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Good Neighbors sets $1.1 million goal

Hope and change are being tossed around quite a bit this election season, but at USC it appears those two words have not lost their meaning.

Faculty and staff instilled hope as they raised a record $1 million last year to benefit local children and change their neighborhoods for the better.

The expectations have not been lowered this year. The Good Neighbors Campaign plans to raise another $1.1 million through USC employee gifts and pledges. The fund-raising effort kicked off Oct. 1.

“The future of L.A. depends on the well-being of its families, the vitality of its neighborhoods and businesses, and the education of its children,” USC President Steven B. Sample said. “Through our Good Neighbors Campaign, our faculty and staff fund the programs that help local businesses grow and that help young people learn about science and music, improve their skills in reading and teamwork, and prepare them for college.”

Sample started the program in 1993, two years after he became president, making neighborhood safety, education, housing, employment and economic development a priority.

The campaign creates a partnership between USC and the community as the money raised is distributed to programs created by area residents in concert with USC faculty, staff or students.

One innovative project developed a fotonovela, a kind of a graphic novel, to help increase knowledge of dementia among low-income, low-literacy Latino families. Another program attempts to teach children about conflict resolution to prevent violence. And over the past 10 years, the Neighborhood Academic Initiative has helped 475 students excel in high school — including 173 who were admitted to USC.

Those are just three of the 328 grants — totaling more than $8 million — that have been awarded since the campaign’s inception nearly 15 years ago.

All of it was made possible because of the generosity of USC employees. Last year about 4,400 donated to the program, and nearly 500 pledged 1 percent or more of their salaries.

“The success of last year’s Good Neighbors Campaign in exceeding our $1 million goal has really inspired faculty, staff and especially our campaign leaders,” said Carolina Castillo, executive director of planning and development at USC Civic and Community Relations. “By coming together we can be active partners in our communities. Everyone is fired up about reaching our goal again this year.”

Nearly 100 staff and faculty members volunteer as campaign leaders to get the word out about the effort and inspire colleagues to donate.

Every donated dollar goes directly to the programs that focus on health, safety and education because the university covers all of the campaign’s administrative costs.

“The outreach programs funded by the Good Neighbors Campaign benefit everyone — university faculty, staff, students and neighborhood families,” Castillo said. “It is a testament to how far-reaching our efforts are and the difference they make in the lives of children and families from one generation to the next.”

For information about the Good Neighbors Campaign, including a full list of programs funded, visit

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