Engaging with the Local Community

As the oldest research university in Southern California, USC has been inextricably bound to the community it serves for more than a century. We have educated countless generations of civic, business, and professional leaders, providing a young and growing city with the physicians, attorneys, dentists, pharmacists, architects, teachers, artists, social workers, and entrepreneurs who have shaped it into one of the most dynamic urban centers in the world.

Today, USC is the largest private employer in Los Angeles and is renowned for innovative partnerships that are blurring the boundaries between campus and community. USC has worked with its neighbors to develop some 400 community engagement programs, encompassing everything from health promotion, business assistance, and job creation to tutoring, educational enrichment, and neighborhood safety.

USC is home to one of the oldest service learning programs in the country—the Joint Educational Project in the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, which offers students the unique opportunity to combine academic coursework with experiences in the community surrounding the campus. Through the Family of Schools program, USC faculty and students are a transformative presence in 15 area schools, working with teachers, principals, and parents to improve K-12 education and serving more than 16,000 families and children annually. Some of these children go on to become Trojans and volunteers in the very programs that helped them succeed. Through the Campaign, we will seek to endow USC’s Neighborhood Academic Initiative (NAI), a rigorous, six-year precollege program designed to prepare low-income students for admission to USC. Those who complete the program and meet USC’s competitive admission requirements are rewarded with a full 4.5-year financial package.

USC students, faculty, and staff routinely serve as mentors and healers, champions, and cheerleaders. But we are also constantly seeking ways to do more for a city ever in flux. Because we fervently believe that we gain more than those we serve through these activities, we are determined to ensure the resources we need to continue these extraordinary alliances, creating an enduring cycle of inclusiveness and opportunity. No other private university in American history has worked to engage more closely with its neighborhoods.