School kicks off annual Good Neighbors Campaign
Posted October 7, 2009 at 12:16 am in News
In its 15th year of fundraising for the community, USCâs Good Neighbors Campaign is beginning its annual October push to increase the amount of money raised and the percentage of faculty involved.
The Good Neighbors Campaign, initiated by President Steven B. Sample on the heels of the Los Angeles riots of 1992, is an annual fundraising program that facilitates USC faculty and staff donations to community programs.
Despite the current economic climate, Thomas Sayles, USCâs vice president for government and community relations said the campaign is encouraging faculty and staff to continue to donate.
âOne of the things weâre saying to folks is that we know things are tough right now in the general economy,â Sayles said. âBut if you think itâs tough for us, think about how tough it is for people in the surrounding communities.â
The campaign kicks into gear every October, setting goals and soliciting donations from faculty and staff. This year, the Good Neighbors Campaign is hoping to raise $1.2 million and record 50 percent participation from USC employees, according to Thomas Sayles, USCâs vice president for government and community relations.
Last yearâs goal, which the campaign successfully met, was
$1.1 million and 42 percent participation.
From 1995 to 2008, the program has raised $10 million, and all of the money has gone to 365 grants to fund local programs. About half of the money this year will go to school-based programs, Sayles said.
Grants are distributed based on applications and community organizations must join with a university partner to apply.
Last yearâs campaign funds went to 37 different community programs, some of which are benefiting from the outreach. Each program received a grant between $3,500 and $53,000.
One program that has received grants in the past â and more than $14,000 from last yearâs campaign â is the Health Sciences Campus Community Health Fair. Scheduled for Oct. 17, the fair will provide free flu shots and health screenings.
âLiterally thousands of people can get screened,â said Cesar Armendariz, the director of community outreach at HSC. âOne family even drove all the way from the Inland Empire to get screened because they donât have health insurance. Thanks to the fair they can get a shot and get screened and see if theyâre OK.â
Matthew Calzetta of the Keck School of Medicine is currently working on Proyecto Verde, a plan to create a community garden at Clinica Romero, a community center in Koreatown. The project received its first grant last year, with more than $12,000 going toward a garden to beautify the area and serve as both an educational and therapeutic space.
âI started planning before I even knew about the Good Neighbors Campaign, but another doctor had planned to do the same thing,â Calzetta said. âEverything worked out well â we just set all of the criteria and got the grant.â
Another program, Fit Families, has been funded by Good Neighbors for three years and received a grant of more than $19,000 last year. Fit Families helps kids from ages 10-17 integrate healthy activity into their lifestyles.
âIt has been inspirational,â said Cheryl Resnik, an assistant professor of clinical physical therapy and the director of Fit Families. âWeâve even had kids bring their parents in because they were concerned about their parentsâ health.â
With their goal even higher than last yearâs, the leaders of the Good Neighbors Campaign hope that it will be able to make an even bigger impact.
âAs one of our deans once said, whatâs good for USC is good for the community, and whatâs good for the community is good for USC,â Sayles said. âIt really is a real
partnership and itâs something we can all be very proud of.â