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Good Neighbors Campaign tops $1 million

For the first time in its 14-year history, the USC Good Neighbors Campaign, which supports collaborations between neighborhood organizations and groups of USC faculty and staff, has surpassed the $1 million mark in a single year.

President Steven B. Sample, who initiated the program in 1993, called this a “wonderful affirmation of the spirit of USC’s staff and faculty and of the extraordinary partnership the university has developed with its neighbors. When you see university employees contributing over $1 million from their own paychecks to fund joint university-community projects that make our neighborhoods better, you know there is something special going on.”

This year, some 4,400 employees donated to the program, and nearly 500 of them pledged 1 percent or more of their salaries. This is a statistic that is particularly gratifying to the president, who increased his own giving this year to 3 percent of his salary.

The 2007 campaign, “A Tradition of Giving,” which began Oct. 1, exceeded its $1 million goal by “tens of thousands of dollars,” said Carolyn Webb de Macias, vice president of external relations, who oversees the campaign. “We are all thrilled that the USC faculty and staff were so generous.”

Last year’s campaign raised a then-record $911,000 from 3,922 donors. The difference this year, said Carolina Castillo, director of external relations, who manages the campaign, was the “energy and momentum” of the 97 campaign leaders, key administrators, deans, faculty and staff. “The enthusiasm was contagious, and you could feel it across both campuses.”

David Galaviz, director of community outreach on the Health Sciences campus, said that the HSC campaign focused on identifying the three distinct neighborhoods that make up that area — Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights and El Sereno — and promoted the opportunity to help local schools during a time of public budget shortfalls.

Individual academic and administrative units within the university brought their skills into the campaign. The video used to promote the campaign, which can be seen on USC’s YouTube channel,, was created by students at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. Auxiliary Services sponsored an antique car show. And the USC Marshall School of Business has turned its campaign into a year-round fund-raising project involving alumni, students and friends.

The Good Neighbors Campaign began two years after Sample became president of the university. When he arrived in 1991, Webb de Macias said, he embarked on a listening tour. “He talked to people in all areas of the city and all areas of USC. He asked ‘What are the issues? What’s important? What should USC do?’ ”

He then outlined five community initiatives to address what he heard, focusing on safety, education, housing, employment and economic development. He also established the Good Neighbors Campaign to encourage faculty and staff to support community partnership projects.

Since its inception, the Good Neighbors Campaign has awarded nearly 300 grants — more than $8 million  to fund these partnerships. The university covers all of the campaign’s administrative costs, so 100 percent of the money raised goes to programs. Funds are allocated through the USC Neighborhood Outreach Program and the United Way.

Now that the campaign has passed the $1 million mark, Sample said, “it has clearly demonstrated how USC’s culture of public service serves as a model for universities and cities nationwide. People here can see the importance of the campaign, and they want to continue to develop it.”

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

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