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Record-breaking year for Good Neighbors Campaign

Record-breaking Year for Good Neighbors Campaign
Reyna Vazquez, right, helping out in the Sea Grant program, scoops a fish for Carlos Gutierrez, then a fourth-grader at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School, and mother Beatriz Zeledon

A record-number of USC staff and faculty donated more money than years past to ring up the most successful Good Neighbors Campaign to date.

More than 6,000 Trojans gave $1.38 million for programs that change the lives of families who live in the neighborhoods around the University Park and Health Sciences campuses.

“The generosity of the Trojan Family is spectacular, particularly given the current economic situation. We exceeded our fundraising goal, which means that more than 6,000 university employees believe in positively impacting our communities,” said Tom Sayles, vice president of USC Government and Civic Engagement. “These funds will enable us to engage even more faculty, staff and students in our civic engagement efforts and to support collaborative partnerships with community organizations.”

The campaign received a big endorsement in the middle of its pledge drive when USC president C. L. Max Nikias named community engagement one of his top five priorities at his Oct. 15 inauguration.

As October came to an end and the public push for donations closed, the campaign was still a bit shy of its $1.3 million goal.

But the newest members of the Trojan Family put the campaign over the top just before winter break. Pledges from the employees of the USC Norris Cancer Hospital and the USC University Hospital came out to $75,000 – an increase of $20,000 from the previous year.

The hospital administration also stepped up and matched what their employees had given.

“Our decision to match our employee contribution with an organizational commitment of $75,000 seemed only fitting when considering the true meaning of the USC Good Neighbors Campaign,” said Mitchell Creem, chief executive officer of USC’s hospitals. “At its core, this campaign is about community. At USC University Hospital and USC Norris Cancer Hospital, we understand how important it is to support the well-being of our community and those we serve each day.”

Liliana Jimenez was one of a dozen campaign leaders at USC hospitals who was instrumental in spreading the message to more than 2,000 employees.

“This is a great program,” said Jimenez, a data coordinator of quality and outcomes management. “That 100 percent goes to the community and no money is used for administrative costs is a big key for me.”

Over the last 15 years, the Good Neighbors Campaign has raised more than $11 million for community partnerships that improve educational outcomes for K-12 students, encourage healthy living in the area of obesity and diabetes, and support job training and small business development. More than 400 grants have been awarded to community organizations partnering with USC.

“I am extremely proud to be a member of the Trojan Family. This year was even more special with the generous matching gift we received from the USC hospitals,” said campaign director Carolina Castillo. “I am thankful to each and every university employee who gave – small and large – and particularly grateful to our dedicated campaign leaders who are the voice of the community.”

The time for USC staff, faculty and students to form partnerships with the community and apply for the University Neighborhood Outreach grants is fast approaching.

The university representative planning to be involved must attend a mandatory grant-writing workshop before submitting a proposal. The next workshops are scheduled on the Health Sciences campus (March 3) and the University Park campus (March 25).

To watch a video featuring the Good Neighbors Campaign, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muGzkLv94uI

Tania Chatila contributed to this article.

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Record-breaking year for Good Neighbors Campaign

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