The Good Neighbors Campaign solicits donations from USC faculty and staff to raise funds for both the USC Neighborhood Outreach and United Way organizations.
Funding is distributed in the form of university and community partnership grants to charities and programs around the surrounding area of USC. These programs range in focus from promoting education to assisting people in finding employment and housing.
“We are just ecstatic at the generosity of the faculty and staff and their dedication to the Good Neighbors Campaign,” said Carolina Castillo, executive director of planning and development at the USC Office of Government and Civic Engagement.
Castillo added that the increase in donations demonstrates USC’s continued commitment to being a partner in the local community.
“This strengthens both the university and the community. It truly is a win-win situation,” Castillo said.
In 2009, the USC Good Neighbors Campaign raised $1.2 million. This was aided in part by the USC Hospitals, which matched the entire amount raised by their employees for the campaign.
Jonathan Spees, chief financial officer for USC Hospitals, said that they were encouraged to contribute to the campaign because they viewed it as an effective way of giving back to the community.
“We thought this was a terrific program with lots of benefits,” Spees said. “We wanted to honor our obligation of giving back to the area around USC, and we thought, ‘What better way of doing this than by making a donation?’”
Spees added that although it is unlikely these large donations will continue in the future, USC Hospitals still wants to support local programs and organizations that aid local community members.
“We want to focus on giving back more diplomatically than just through cash donations. However, we haven’t had a chance to fully develop our community benefit programs yet, so that is something that we are definitely working on,” Spees said.
The Joint Educational Project (JEP) has benefitted from grants from the Good Neighbors Campaign in the past, incorporating several thousands of USC student-volunteers.
“In the past, we have usually received between $40-45,000 from the Good Neighbors Campaign. Most of the money goes to student salaries for coordinators who help to oversee the program,” said Christina Koneazny, associate director of administration of JEP.
Tammy Anderson, director of JEP, said the organization writes an annual proposal for a grant from the Good Neighbors Campaign to help offset administrative and training costs.
“For the many past years now, we have benefitted through the funds we receive to help us pay for our coordinators, specifically within our USC ReadersPlus program,” Anderson said.
Chelsea Snyder, one of the student coordinators at JEP who receive their salaries from the Good Neighbors Campaign, said that raising this kind of money creates an enormous impact.
“It’s very exciting to know that they not only achieved their goal but exceeded it as well,” Snyder said. “It’s so important that people from USC, and especially students, are willing to help their community and make a difference.”
Lena Cronin, a sophomore majoring in communication, said she saw the Good Neighbors Campaign as a way to merge USC and the surrounding area.
“It shows that students here aren’t just in a bubble, and that we’re socially aware of what is going on around us,” Cronin said.
The Good Neighbors Campaign typically increases its annual goal by $100,000 each year, although a goal for next year has not yet been set.
Castillo said USC Neighborhood Outreach has three specific funding priorities that will be considered for funding grants this coming year.
“We want to focus on improving educational outcomes, particularly in K-12 students, improving health outcomes, particularly in the area of obesity and diabetes and supporting job training and small business development,” she said. “Ultimately, we just want to make a greater impact on our community.”