USC Civic Engagement

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Throughout its storied history, USC has placed a high value on being a good neighbor—and on programs and projects that have a positive impact on surrounding neighborhoods.Over the decades, we have come together with local residents, community partners, civic leaders, and area businesses in one of the most ambitious social-outreach programs of any university in the nation.

Transcript of USC Civic Engagement

  • Working with our neighbors to build a strong community


    When we look at the need throughout our

    world, we must feel very compelled to help.

    This universitys visionary leadership, stellar

    faculty, and outstanding students reach

    beyond the campus walls to not just make a

    difference, but to effect real and far-reaching

    change in the community they call home.




    While USC consistently draws both the most talented students from around the globe, and faculty members who produce scholarly and creative work that changes our world, we remain fully committed to the communities that surround us in Los Angeles. At the heart of our mission is a longstanding dedication to our local neighborhoods, a solid commitment to nurturing bonds that remain mutually beneficial.

    Perhaps no effort reflects this more strongly than our NEIGHBORHOOD ACADEMIC INITIATIVE (NAI). This vibrant program supports low-income, at-risk students and their families with educational and social services. Beginning in sixth grade, NAI students come to USC for seven full years of accelerated classes, Saturday schooling, and college counseling. Those who meet USCs competitive admissions requirements receive full financial support for their undergraduate education. This initiative has become a model for other universities programs, and we are now in the process of expanding it to our Health Sciences campus.

    In addition to NAI, USC has seen outstanding results with its FAMILY OF SCHOOLS program, and we now look to build on this success with another innovative program: USC FAMILY OF BUSINESSES. This initiative will provide local businesses with community broadband connectivity, as well as technical assistance in communications, website design, marketing, and traditional business consulting services. These businesses will also draw on the scholarly and creative expertise of USCs diverse schools and units. We believe these lasting relationships will strengthen the economic health, sustainability, and stability of our surrounding neighborhoods, while following the trajectory of so many other exceptional USC initiatives.

    These singular programs reflect the spirit of the USC community. Time and again, as the Trojan Family extends its embrace beyond our campuses, USC and its surrounding neighborhoods stand up together, building bonds and partnerships that benefit everyone for generations.



    USC and its surrounding neighborhoods stand up together, building bonds and partnerships that benefit everyone for generations.


    USC in the NeighborhoodPOWERED BY A COMMITMENT TO COMMUNITYThroughout its storied history, USC has placed a high value on being a good neighborand on programs and projects that have a positive

    impact on surrounding neighborhoods. Over the decades, we have come together with local residents,

    community partners, civic leaders, and area businesses in one of the most ambitious social-outreach programs of any university

    in the nation. In the early 1870s, when Los Angeles was a rough-and-

    tumble frontier town with a population of 10,000, a group of public-spirited citizens dreamed of establishing a university in the region. It took nearly a decade for that vision to become reality, and when USC first opened its doors, there were 53 students and 10 professors.

    Today, the university is home to some 38,000 students and 23,000 faculty and staff, who carry on a tradition of

    active engagement with the community. USC has remained committed to its original University Park neighborhood as well

    as to its Boyle Heights/Lincoln Heights neighborhood, home of the Health Sciences campus since its opening in 1952. Both areas are

    among the most culturally vibrant and historically significant in the city, and both areas are integral to the identity of our university.

    Our commitment to community-building can be seen at every level of the university. It encompasses the participation of our research facilities, individual schools, departments, and programs, as well as our hospitals and health centers.

    USC Civic Engagement supports and promotes more than 400 community initiatives in our local neighborhoods. As an institution, we are committed to helping young people realize their dream of a college education. We are striving to assist families and small businesses in gaining access to resources that support their health and vitality. We are proud to protect, develop, and cherish our neighborhood communities.







  • Early Roads to Success


    Its been said that a community can be measured by how it treats its most vulner-able members. In the vibrant communities surrounding USC, the health, safety, and education of our children come first. Here, an array of university- and government-funded programs help set neighborhood kids on the right path, even before they can walk down it.

    The UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA SCHOOL FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION (SECE) provides education and communal support to the children and families of Los Angeles. Since its inception in 1970, the program has operated numerous Head Start State Preschool childcare and development centers for children ages three to five, as well as home-based Early Head Start programs for infants. Understanding the holistic needs of children, USC offers services that reach beyond education to include parenting classes, social services, health and nutrition support, and mental-health counseling.

    The university also welcomes the opportunity to initiate new programs such as Kinder 2 College, a pilot project that aims to pair boys in first through third grade with mentors who help to develop their reading skills.

    At USC, we realize that an investment in children is an investment in the future of our community. From prenatal care to literacy tutoring, these early childhood programs put children on a solid path toward health, happiness, and success.



    During the late 70s, James Reese noticed a striking correlation between young defendants inability to read and having a criminal record.

    As a Los Angeles Municipal Court judge in Compton, Reese had sentenced scores of juveniles convicted of misdemeanor offenses to perform community service in lieu of doing jail time. One day, he received a call from a woman in charge of the community-service program. She told me that of the 80 or 90 boys I sent to her, she could only place about 20 in projects because they were basically illiterate, said Reese, who is now retired from the Los Angeles County Superior Court bench. They couldnt fill out the application form. Some couldnt even sign their names.

    That eye-opener combined with his earlier observations of client illiteracy when he was a defense attorney and a legal-aid program organizer led Reese to fund KINDER 2 COLLEGE.

    A USC pilot project, the initiative will pair 100 boys in first through third grade with mentors who devote four or five hours a week to developing their reading skills. Local principals and teachers select the boys based on socio-economic factors such as an absent father, a family member on drugs, living in poverty, and other criteria.

    In addition to his legal-system experi-ences with illiteracy, Reese, who has lived in the Lafayette Square area of mid-town Los Angeles since 1956, unearthed sometimes surprising results when he conducted informal research on education and incarceration.

    For example, there is a glaring difference between the cost of educating a teenager who has entered the juvenile justice system and the cost of remedial training in grades one to three.

    In the early years, its about $1,700. Once hes in the juvenile justice system, its more than $10,000, Reese said.

    There was also the shocking discovery of how some states plan their prisons. I found that the State of California and eight or nine other states were studying the reading scores of fourth-grade males to determine how many prison cells to build eight years out, he said. That means were warehousing these boys.

    Conversely, said Reese, I know what can happen to boys if theyre given the right encouragement. Its not just about giving them the technical assistance of tutoring. Its about instilling self-confidence.

    Reese firmly believes Not everyone can go to college, but they should all learn to read so that they can vote, can read a newspaper. If you cant pass a fourth-grade reading test, how can you know whats going on? Its so basic. Its being prepared to be a participating citizen.

    His own early preparation began in New Orleans. There, despite being in a segregated school system and having an alcoholic father who made family life difficult, he benefited from the dedication, reinforcement, and support that teachers gave students, and I was a recipient of that throughout my education. Reese later taught elementary school in that city before he entered the Army during World War II, and then moved to Los Angeles.

    In 1946, on the GI bill, he received his juris doctorate degree from the USC Gould School of Law. Even though he was the only African American student in the school at the time, he felt at home.

    That positive experience was a strong reason he established Kinder 2 College at USC. Im getting all the support an institution can give me to put this project into effec