This fall, the USC Good Neighbors Campaign entered its 26th year as one the university’s most important employee-giving initiatives. Organized by the Office of Civic Engagement and Economic Partnerships, the annual fundraising effort asks USC faculty and staff to contribute a portion of their paychecks in supporting community development programs.
“This initiative enhances education and job opportunities, promotes health, supports economic development and improves public safety,” said Rod Hanners, interim CEO for Keck Medicine of USC. “This is why the campaign is so important. Not only are you benefitting communities in the immediate sense, but you are laying a strong foundation for the future of our society.”
First organized in 1993, the campaign is the umbrella initiative for USC Good Neighbors and United Way. Its intent is to focus employee giving on the communities surrounding the University Park and Health Sciences campuses. During its first year, contributions were made solely to United Way. Then in 1994, contributions specific to USC Good Neighbors began, with grants from the program allocated for the first time in 1995.
Since then, almost 900 local efforts have been supported thanks to donations totaling well over $26 million from USC faculty and staff.
“Good Neighbors allows all members of the Trojan Family to come together to share hope, especially during this critical time, with youth and families who live just across the street from our campus and medical center,” said Carolina Castillo, EdD, executive director of development for Civic Engagement and Economic Partnerships and the USC Good Neighbors campaign director.
In recent years, almost half of the grants go to serve the youth and families residing near HSC. Some of the funded organizations have included Clinica Oscar Romero, which employs promotoras de salud, or community health workers, to conduct community outreach on diabetes, and the Boyle Heights Beat, which encourages high school journalism students to advocate for issues of importance in their community.
In 2019, Keck Medical Center of USC was ranked No. 1 in giving for Administrative Units with $111,949 in gifts from their employees. The previous year, Keck Medical Center also was ranked No. 1 in the same category with $115,135 in gifts.
Additionally, the Keck School of Medicine of USC is currently a partner with five USC Good Neighbors grants, which include:
- Beyond Pregnancy: Providing services to women with a history of gestational diabetes through participation in a lifestyle program.
- Med-COR: A college access program with a focus on health careers.
- VIP (Violence Intervention Program) Mentoring & Tutoring Program: Provides mentoring and tutoring for foster children, victims of child abuse and other youth.
- After COVID-19 Social Emotional Learning: A partnership with AltaMed to provide services that address physical and emotional health concerns.
- College and Career: A partnership with Puente Learning Center to provide educational support through SAT preparation, monthly online college prep workshops and mentorship.
All overhead and expenses of the campaign are covered by USC, enabling 100% of the funds to support local nonprofits and schools.
“So often, when it comes to fundraising efforts, we are unable to personally see the fruits of our charity,” said Paul Craig, chief administrative officer for Keck Medicine. “But in the case of USC Good Neighbors, all we have to do is look around at the enhanced school programs and health services to know that our contributions are making a tangible difference.”
For more information, or to give online, go to goodneighbors.usc.edu.
— Matthew Vasiliauskas