—USC — University of Southern California —
As an institution that has always been
inextricably linked to the region it calls home, the
University of Southern California has long been
a source of formal and informal community service. During its early years, much of that service took
the form of education.
During the 20th century, however, as the character of the region began to change, the nature and scope of USC's relationship to the community was transformed as well. The university's clubs, fraternities and sororities regularly undertook community service programs, and the campus created the Trojan Chest
to fund community programs and support various charities. In 1948, Otis Healy, a business administration major at USC, took 80 underprivileged boys and eight counselors to a camp near Redlands for two ten-day
sessions. Troy Camp, as the program came to be called, quickly gained widespread support and has continued to grow, serving an average of 150 children each summer.
USC's commitment to public service was heightened further during the 1960s and 1970s. In 1966, faculty and staff established the Caldwell
Neighborhood Scholarship Fund to provide a four-year award to a recipient from each of nine high schools
within USC's immediate neighborhood. In 1970, two USC students, Ron McDuffie and Dan
Smith, proposed that the university's students levy a
tax on themselves to create the Norman Topping Student Aid Fund, a scholarship fund that would enable more low-income students to attend USC.
Also in 1970, an annual summer tradition was inaugurated on campus: the National Youth Sports Program, a six-week sports and education program for 400 disadvantaged youth aged 10-16, led by USC staff and students. Two years later, USC initiated what became one of the oldest service learning programs in the country: the Joint Educational Project (JEP). Started by the late Barbara Gardner, a research associ¬ate in the Center for Urban Affairs and faculty member in economics, JEP began placing USC student volun¬teers in area public schools, where they quickly made a difference by teaching, tutoring, serving as friends to children needing special attention, and aiding teachers and school staff.
It was during the early 1970s that President John R. Hubbard, citing a need for USC to escalate its commitment to forging partnerships in the
surrounding community, asked the Reverend Thomas Kilgore, Jr. to serve as an advisor on university community issues and to direct the office of Special Community Affairs. Reverend Kilgore went on to advise two more USC presidents after Hubbard and helped establish USC's office of Civic and Community Relations.
In 1993, under the direction of President Steven B. Sample, the university created USC
Neighborhood Outreach, a nonprofit corporation to promote educational, cultural and developmental
opportunities for USC's neighbors. An annual
faculty/staff fundraising program called the Good Neighbors Campaign was initiated in 1994 to raise money for Neighborhood Outreach. In the first three years, the campaign dispersed almost $800,000 in grants to projects in the local community. Much of it was directed at a wide range of innovative programs to enhance the quality of education in the "Family of
Five Schools" for the benefit of the more than 8,000 students at those nearby K-12 public schools. The effectiveness of USC's partnerships with neighborhood schools was confirmed in a number of ways, most prominently in 1997 when Howard Lappin, principal of the Foshay Learning Center, was named California Principal of the Year.
Today, USC's commitment to public service is manifest in more than 300 community outreach programs that touch over 600,000 lives a year. It is a
legacy of caring that promises to enhance the quality of life for all Southern Californians well into the foreseeable future.