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Good Neighbors Campaign hosts kickoff celebration

Good Neighbors Campaign Hosts Kickoff Celebration
Kidwatch volunteers took part in the celebration at Alumni Park.

Now in its 18th year, the USC Good Neighbors Campaign kicked off Sept. 28 with a celebration at Alumni Park.

The campaign, organized by USC Government and Civic Engagement, invites faculty and staff to donate to USC Neighborhood Outreach and United Way programs. Since the university covers all campaign costs, 100 percent of the donations support local community efforts.

“The true test of a university is whether it can make a difference for the local community. While our aspirations and accomplishments are shared with the world at large, this commitment begins immediately with the communities surrounding our two campuses,” said USC president C. L. Max Nikias. “What we have done together over the last few years has been amazing.”

Last year, nearly 40 percent of USC faculty and staff contributed to the campaign.

Even amid a challenging economy, the campaign has set a 2011 goal of $1.4 million, up from last year’s $1.3 million. In 2010, more than 6,000 faculty, staff, alumni and friends of the university contributed an average of $200 to the campaign with single donations or payroll deductions.

Thomas S. Sayles, senior vice president for University Relations, is optimistic about reaching this year’s goal.

“Civic engagement is a top priority for USC, and I have no doubt that the Trojan Family will help us continue to make a profound and transformative difference in our neighborhoods by giving as much as they possibly can this year,” he said.

“The Good Neighbors Campaign is especially dear to me, and I know firsthand about the societal challenges that residents of South Los Angeles face each day,” continued Sayles, who grew up in that area, near the University Park campus. “The campaign is providing long-term solutions by working with educators, health care professionals, social workers, business owners, community residents, civic leaders and elected officials to improve life for many, and not just a select few.”

“Opening Doors,” the 2011 campaign theme, indicates the scope and purpose of the fundraising effort, said campaign director Carolina Castillo. “The campaign shows our community that we intend to continue our careful stewardship of our surrounding neighborhoods. It is opening doors to improved health and fitness, educational advancement and business opportunities.”

The 2011 grant recipients include the HSC Community Health and Wellness Fair, which provides preventive health services and screenings; the After ‘Cool Theatre Program, which offers after-school arts instruction; Connecting Literature to Life, which is designed to increase interest in reading and writing; Mission Science, which provides science and technology instruction to more than 500 elementary students annually; and After School Sports Connection, which offers instruction in basketball, soccer, volleyball and martial arts.

The kickoff, which was attended by faculty, staff, students and friends of the university, included display tables staffed by community partners, performances by USC Thornton School of Music students and the Foshay Learning Center Jazz Ensemble, a presentation of a mock check for $1.2 million to 2011 grant recipients by Nikias and Sayles, and reflections by USC’s Neighborhood Academic Initiative graduate and USC freshman Guadalupe Cardona.

This year’s campaign marks the first time donations can be made entirely online at “We wanted to offer an online option, which not only makes contributing easier, but also helps us reinforce the university’s green initiatives,” Castillo said.

Since the campaign launched in 1994, donations totaling more than $12.5 million have funded 459 grants to support university-community partnerships in the neighborhoods surrounding the University Park and Health Sciences campuses.

The Good Neighbors Campaign runs through Oct. 31, but donations can be made any time during the year.

To view the campaign’s online giving page, visit

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Good Neighbors Campaign hosts kickoff celebration

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