NAI: 26 years of preparing South L.A. students for college

May 2, 2017

  • USC’s Neighborhood Academic Initiative sets local students on the path to college as early as sixth grade. 
  • Sixty graduates will head to college, including 22 who were admitted to USC on full-ride scholarships.
  • More than 80 percent of NAI’s students are the first in their families to attend college.
  • Nearly 1,000 students have graduated from the program since it began in 1997. Of those, 398 have been accepted to USC.

Contact: Emily Gersema, (213) 361-6730 or

WHEN: Wednesday, May 3, 5:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.

WHERE: USC University Park Campus; Town and Gown
(665 Exposition Blvd., LA 90089)



  • NAI graduates waving pennants of their future alma mater
  • Academic honors and scholarship awards ceremony
  • Presentation of medals of completion
  • Marilou and Mark Hamill, sponsors
  • Alysha Del Valle, morning traffic reporter for ABC Channel 7, mistress of ceremonies
  • USC and NAI representatives

MORE: To date, the University of Southern California’s Neighborhood Academic Initiative (NAI) program, has graduated 990 students since 1997. All 60 graduates will enroll in college this fall or attend military academy.

Twenty-two of this year’s graduates have been admitted to attend USC in the fall. Other students have been accepted to institutions such as New York University, Rochester Institute of Technology, Seton Hall, University of California at Berkeley, and the University of California Los Angeles. Collectively, the students were admitted to 42 schools.

First-generation college students, who are the first in their families to attend college, represent the majority of program participants. Students hail from local public schools from the university’s neighborhoods in east and south Los Angeles. Graduating students spent seven years attending early-morning tutoring during the week on the USC campus, and went to day-long Saturday classes.

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ABOUT: NAI is a seven-year pre-college, comprehensive, rigorous educational program operated by USC Civic Engagement. NAI prepares low-income, first-generation, under-represented, minority students living in the neighborhoods surrounding USC for access and success at a college or university. Those who complete the program, meet USC’s competitive admission requirements, and choose to attend USC, are awarded a full financial package minus loans. Many NAI students are the first in their family to graduate from high school and in most cases they are the first in their family to attend college. NAI boasts a 100 percent high school graduation rate and a 98 percent college attendance rate. NAI Scholars are accepted to and attend top prestigious universities and colleges across the country including USC, Harvard, Stanford and UCLA. The NAI program has garnered national media attention and serves as a model program for college access and success.

Additional information regarding the USC Neighborhood Academic Initiative can be found at

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