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Keck School kicks off campaign with call for greater participation

by Carol Matthieu

On the eve of the 2008 USC Good Neighbors Campaign, leaders of the Keck School of Medicine called on staff and faculty to participate more fully in the program and to become more active in the University’s outreach efforts to the community.

During a Sept. 29 meeting of campaign leaders from the School, John Cleary, chief of staff, spoke on behalf of Keck School Dean Carmen A. Puliafito, emphasizing that the programs funded by the Good Neighbors Campaign aid and nurture the same community that serves as the University’s home.

“We are members of the community, we aren’t apart from it, and that’s something the dean realizes and wants to emphasize across our campus,” Cleary said.

“Programs funded in pediatrics, ophthalmology, the campus health fair and all kinds of things supported by the Good Neighbors Campaign are particular to the health science campus, so our support here is important.”

Cleary said that the Keck School has the lowest University-wide participation rate — 10 percent — and said Puliafito has set a goal of 15 percent participation for this year’s campaign.

“That’s an incredibly achievable goal. We have a challenge in front of us, and we appreciate your support in helping us meet it,” Cleary said.

Carolina Castillo, executive director of planning and development in the office of Civic and Community Relations, and Good Neighbors Campaign director, said the University encourages participation in the campaign and “wants people to become active in our community. This is one way people can do that to support our neighborhoods.”

USC Neighborhood Outreach (UNO), the non-profit organization funded by the Good Neighbors Campaign, was born from the desire to focus the University’s philanthropy efforts in the communities surrounding the Health Sciences and University Park campuses.

See a list of Health Sciences Campus-area schools and programs that benefit from the campaign.

Last year’s campaign marked the first year since its inception 14 years ago that the University-wide $1 million goal was reached. With 37 percent faculty and staff participation in last year’s campaign, Castillo added, “there’s a lot of room for growth.”

For the 2008-2009 fiscal year the campaign funded 38 programs surrounding the University’s two campuses. This year’s campaign goal is $1.1 million University-wide.

At the meeting, Joseph Cocozza, research assistant professor of ophthalmology, spoke about his first-hand experience as an UNO grant recipient. As co-director of the Education and Outreach Program at the NSF Engineering Research Center, Cocozza oversees the Science for Life program whose “overall objective is to increase the number of students going into science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) because it’s a gateway into a good, productive life.”

UNO currently funds a Science for Life program for grades three through five at Murchison Elementary School. Longitudinal studies of this program for the past five years show that with “Every grade that we looked at, we can see a significant increase in student achievement in science, and these aren’t easy tests,” said Cocozza.

Priscilla Aldrete, office assistant in the Department of Anesthesiology, said that as a parent of two elementary school-aged children, she understands the promise these programs offer. “I’ve never had experience with this, but now I’m interested to ask the schools my daughters’ are in, do they have these [types of] programs, especially science. I hope they do.”

The 2008 USC Good Neighbors Campaign began on Oct. 1 and runs through Oct. 31. USC faculty and staff will receive campaign informational and pledge packets via campus mail this week.

Visit USC’s Good Neighbors Campaign Websitefor more information on the annual initiative.

To see how your contribution can directly change the lives of community members who live around USC’s University Park and Health Sciences campuses, watch the Good Neighbors Campaign Video.

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