Cardinal and gold streamers burst into the air as President C. L. Max Nikias presented a $1.5 million check Tuesday afternoon to USC’s Good Neighbors Campaign, an initiative to raise funding for community outreach from faculty and staff.
The check, which will benefit 42 programs, represents the funds yielded from last year’s campaign. It was presented to community partners during the kickoff event for this year’s campaign at Alumni Park.
Nikias announced a fundraising goal of $1.6 million for this year’s campaign, which will last through the month of October. The GNC benefits programs aimed at supporting and improving education, safety and health programs in the local community.
During his remarks, Nikias applauded the program, founded in 1993, for making lasting differences through funding education programs.
“When you read a child a book, he will learn for a day. But if you teach a child to read, he will learn for a lifetime,” Nikias said to an audience of students, university employees and community partners. “Programs like this not only help members of our community reach milestones, but also reach their full potential.”
Daniel Zavala, a GNC manager for the USC Radisson, encourages employees, friends and guests to participate in the initiative. Zavala said the program yields positive benefits for the community.
“It’s a great opportunity to meet student organizations and after school programs around the neighborhood,” Zavala said.
Nikias said though only 40 percent of faculty and staff made a donation last year, he urged greater participation from employees. The $1.6 million goal would be reached if every full-time employee at USC donated $2 a week, Nikias said.
“I ask you to ask yourself the following,” Nikias said. “Will I help a child to become the first in her family to attend college? Will I help and reach members of our communities through greater exposure to the arts? Will I help families learn more about wellness so they can lead more healthy lives? And will I help ensure the streets of our neighborhoods remains safe for our residents?”
Since 1994, GNC has raised more than $14 million. Thomas Sayles, senior vice president for university relations, said the program is unique to USC.
“When I talk to other university leaders they say, ‘Oh, it’s a wonderful program, we should do it.’ But they never do,” Sayles said. “I guess they just don’t have the Trojan spirit to really get it done.”