Good Neighbors Campaign marks 20th Anniversary

The USC Good Neighbors Campaign, a grant program established on the heels of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, marked its 20th anniversary this October.

The GNC has spent the past two decades raising over $17.7 million dollars in support of building and sustaining a positive relationship with the local communities around USC’s campuses.

Last year, over 5,500 USC faculty and staff members raised more than $1.7 million dollars for the campaign, setting a new record.

“The campaign has grown significantly,” said Carolina Castillo, campaign director and executive director of development for USC Civic Engagement. “We have a pretty ambitious goal for the 20-year anniversary.”

This year’s goal for the campaign is set at $2 million.

“The Good Neighbors Campaign is a signature program for the university because of the impact we are able to have on our community,” Castillo said. “All of the funds and gifts that are collected for Good Neighbors come from university employees, staff and faculty.”

All of the money raised by the university’s employee giving program is used to support programs with an emphasis on providing enhanced educational opportunities, as well as those that serve the community through the promotion of health and well being and economic development.

The primary objectives for the 20th year of the GNC and onward include an increased focus on peer-to-peer outreach and increasing the GNC’s marketing efforts to broaden the visibility of the campaign. No specific event has been held to celebrate the campaign’s October anniversary. GNC looks forward to thanking donors, however, with a 20th Anniversary commemorative pin and two complimentary tickets to the USC v. Army men’s basketball game on Dec. 28.

Student-led organizations such as Troy Camp, Street Law and Young Researchers are among the 50 programs funded by the GNC.

“This is an opportunity also for our students to take advantage of their public service work that they are doing with the local community,” Castillo said of the opportunity the program provides in regard to student involvement and the development of civic-leadership skills.

Troy Camp is one example of an organization funded by the campaign that relies heavily on the involvement of student volunteers. The student-led youth development group seeks to broaden the horizons of children throughout the local community through long-term mentoring relationships with USC undergraduate students.

“For me, the most rewarding part of working with Troy Camp has been seeing the way that some of the kids open up to me and the other counselors. Being a kid is hard, no matter where you come from,” Troy Camp Director of Communication Brad Silling said. “I think one of the biggest benefits of Troy Camp is that it provides kids a safe space in which they’re free to express themselves and just be kids in a positive and goal-driven atmosphere.”

The generous contributions from the GNC make up a significant portion USC Troy Camp’s, as well as many other programs’, annual budgets and facilitate the continued success of such programs.

“The campaign has given us the opportunity to grow our weeklong summer camp in May, allowing us to take nearly 200 elementary school students in the past few years,” Silling said. “Without the support of the GNC, we would not be able to reach as many students and have such a strong relationship with families in the surrounding community.”