Media Advisory: USC access program celebrates college-bound students

June 10, 2021

For nearly three decades, the USC Leslie and William McMorrow Neighborhood Academic Initiative, or NAI, has prepared students from South Los Angeles and the city’s Eastside for college success. NAI will celebrate its 24th graduation with 83 students, their families and the people who’ve made NAI a nationally recognized, free college preparatory program.


Contact: Ron Mackovich, or (213) 810-8583; or Tran Le at, or (213) 330-9787.

WHAT: Neighborhood Academic Initiative Gala and Awards Ceremony

WHEN: Saturday, June 12, 4:00 – 6:00 pm PST

WHERE: Virtual; a link will be provided upon RSVP


  • USC McMorrow NAI 2021 graduates and families
  • Carol L. Folt, President, University of Southern California
  • Pedro A. Noguera, Dean, USC Rossier School of Education
  • Robert Margolis, the Robert and Lisa Margolis  Family Foundation
  • USC and NAI representatives and alumni


  • USC’s Neighborhood Academic Initiative sets local students on the path to college as early as sixth grade.
  • NAI’s class of 2021 includes 83 graduates. All are headed for college, 62 received offers of admission to USC and 58 will have committed to attend USC this fall on full scholarship.
  • More than 90% of NAI students are the first in their family to attend college. NAI students are from Los Angeles Unified School District schools in the neighborhoods near USC campuses.
  • Over 1,300 students have graduated from the program since 1997.


Since its first graduating class in 1997, the USC McMorrow Neighborhood Academic Initiative has provided rigorous academic programming, vital mentoring and academic advisement services, as well as skills development and mental health support, to over 1,300 NAI scholars and their families. The initiative serves 900 sixth to 12th grade students annually and over 250 undergraduates in college. Here are a few highlights from 2021:

  • More than 90% of NAI students are the first in their family to graduate from high school and attend college. Most NAI students are from public schools in neighborhoods near USC.
  • 100% of the 83 NAI graduating seniors will attend college this fall.
  • 74% of NAI scholars — 62 of 83 — were offered full rides to USC.
  • NAI’s high school graduation rate is 100%, and 99% of NAI graduates attend college.
  • Foshay Learning Center, an LAUSD public school near USC’s University Park Campus, is the university’s top feeder school for the incoming freshman class.
  • 17 NAI scholars from Wilson and Lincoln high schools on the city’s Eastside were offered admission to USC. They represent the second NAI cohort to graduate from those schools.
  • The NAI team delivered food and personal protective equipment; registered families for vaccinations; created a calendar of resources in English, Spanish and Mandarin; organized clothes and diaper donations; and connected students to school supplies and laptops.

NAI students spend seven years attending early morning tutorials and full-day Saturday sessions at USC. During the pandemic, NAI programming took place online. Parents and advocates commit to monthly seminars covering child development, communication, home-learning environments, the college application process and financial aid.

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