Overall Rating Silver
Overall Score 57.87
Liaison Elias Platte-Bermeo
Submission Date July 29, 2021

STARS v2.2

University of Southern California
EN-14: Participation in Public Policy

Status Score Responsible Party
Complete 2.00 / 2.00 Elias Platte-Bermeo
Sustainability Program Assistant
Office of Sustainability
"---" indicates that no data was submitted for this field

Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the municipal/local level?:
Yes

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the municipal/local level:

USC Community & Local Government Partnerships is the University’s primary point of contact and liaison to city and county government as well as community stakeholders, leaders and advocates within six separate neighborhoods in the UPC and HSC communities. The team is dedicated to developing a shared vision with city and county elected officials, local government agencies and community stakeholders. Throughout this process, the department works to understand local government and community sustainability priorities and advocates for expanding partnership opportunities.

Regular examples of ongoing activities include tracking sustainability motions, reviewing city reports and priorities such as the “Green New Deal”, setting up meetings for President Folt to meet with Mayor Garcetti and other city/county elected officials, working with stakeholders to identify USC sustainability experts for public testimony and remaining involved in community discussions focused on climate change, recycling, public transportation, and parks and open space.

BELOW ARE KEY PRIORITIES:

Lincoln Park Lake Renovation:
USC Community & Local Government Partnerships worked with City Councilmember Gilbert Cedillo and supported his efforts to fund the renovations of the Lincoln Park Lake near the USC Health Sciences Campus. USC Community and Local Government Partnerships attended numerous meetings with the council office and provided testimony at three separate public hearings. The total cost of renovations exceeds $24Million.

Bike Lanes along Figueroa Blvd.:
USC Community & Local Government Partnerships has played a key role in the development of bike lanes near the University Park Campus. This project, known as “My Figueroa”, created major bike infrastructure on the public thoroughfare connecting USC to South L.A. and Downtown. USC has worked with the city to make the corridor more bike and pedestrian friendly, and continues to work in partnership with the city and local community leaders to support future efforts.

Expo Park Master Plan:
USC Community and Local Government Partnerships was asked to serve as USC’s appointee to the Exposition Park Master Plan Community Advisory Committee beginning in 2018. As part of this ongoing process, the department worked closely with six Expo. Park Stakeholders, State, City and County officials to develop strategies to expand sustainability practices within the park. As one of the largest passive green spaces in the City of Los Angeles, efforts focused expanding sustainability practices, recycling, zero waste, and parks and recreation opportunities for local youth.

Coliseum Zero Waste Outreach:
The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum ranks as one of the most sustainable stadiums in the country. USC Community and Local Government Partnerships worked with Coliseum leadership, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the Los Angeles City Council city to communicate best practices and advocate for expansion of the Coliseum’s current sustainability footprint.

Community Clean Ups:
USC Community and Local Government Partnerships works in close coordination with city councilmembers to develop community clean-ups featuring USC student and faculty/staff volunteers.

Coordination with Mayor’s Office:
USC Community and Local Government Partnerships regularly connects the Mayor’s office with key university faculty members, researchers, staff and departments to ensure that USC research is utilized in local public policy discussions.

Clean Grid L.A.:
USC Community and Local Government Partnerships worked with the USC President’s office to provide a letter of support for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s Green Access Program. USC confirmed intent to participate in the program in the form of a 24MW purchase of offsite solar power and the lease of select on-site Feed-In-Tariff solar installation locations.


Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the state/provincial/regional level?:
Yes

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the state/provincial/regional level:

USC State Government Relations (SGR) is the University’s liaison to the state government, working with the state legislature and related agencies to advocate for sustainability efforts that support our communities.

Increasing Access to State Financial Aid for Low-Income Students
USC has been very involved with issues surrounding student aid such as full funding of the Cal Grant in the California state budget. Each year, USC financial aid works with the NAI program administrators and the Norman Toppings Scholars program to identify current Cal Grant recipients enrolled at USC to participate in our annual advocacy day in Sacramento. Current USC students meet with state legislators and their staff to discuss the importance of the Cal Grant program and advocate for the continued funding.

In 2021, the Governor has proposed to provide foster youth with a supplemental Cal Grant award (with a maximum award amount of up to $6,000) to students enrolled at a UC, CSU or California Community College. The increased award is not, as proposed, available to foster youth enrolled at private, nonprofit college or university. In 2019-20, the total number of foster youth enrolled in the private, nonprofit sector was at 184 students. In 2020, USC estimates it has enrolled 33 foster youth students. USC will advocate for the final budget proposal to include students enrolled in the private, nonprofit sector.

Improving Access to Online Higher Education
USC is involved in issues on distant education and interstate reciprocity. USC participates in a workgroup formed by the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU) on the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) to consider ways to move forward on online distance education. USC is also part of a consortium with AICCU, providing significant cost savings to the institution and access to pooled resources to track regulatory and compliance changes in other states. COVID-19 has highlighted the shortcomings of not belonging to SARA, as many USC students come from out-of-state. USC continues to work with AICCU on assessing other pathways to address distance education issues.

Improving Access to Health and Social Service Programs
USC is actively engaged in policies that increase access to health and social services for people experiencing homelessness. USC works closely with its Street Medicine program, which serves the homeless community by providing direct care to the unsheltered and hardest to reach populations throughout Los Angeles, free of charge. The director of the Street Medicine program conducts medical and social service outreach and shares his work with legislative staff and community partners in order to highlight the need for policies that will sustain other Street Medicine programs throughout California.

USC advocates for policies that support the 340B Drug Pricing Program in Medi-Cal, allowing eligible healthcare providers to access discounts on outpatient prescription drugs. Keck Hospital of USC, USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, and USC Verdugo Hills Hospital are 340B covered entities who use the savings to provide free or reduced-price prescription drugs to vulnerable patient populations, free care for uninsured patients, free vaccinations, services in mental health clinics, chronic disease management and community health programs. USC works closely with the California Hospital Association to support policies that maintain the program in Medi-Cal.

Bills relating to Sustainability (as defined by the United Nations) from January 2018 to June 2021:
• AB 598 (Bloom, 2019): Would require a health plan to include coverage for hearing aids for minors. The bill was held at the Governor’s desk.
USC Position: SUPPORT

• AB 369 (Kamlager, 2021): Would require Department of Health Care Services to implement a program of presumptive eligibility for persons experiencing homelessness in order to receive full-scope Medi-Cal benefits without a share of cost. The bill is currently in the Assembly.
USC Position: SUPPORT

• SB 74 (Borgeas, 2021): Would establish a grant program for small businesses and nonprofit entities that have experienced economic hardship from the COVID-19 pandemic.
USC position: WATCH

• AB 1858 (Calderon, 2018): Would provide a financial aid shopping sheet developed by the United States Department of Education (USDE) to inform admitted students or individuals who have been offered admission about financial aid award packages.
USC Position: NEUTRAL

• SB 940 (Beall, 2018): Would expand eligibility for Cal Grant B Entitlement award for a student who is a current or former foster youth by extending the window of time for submission of an initial financial aid application up to age 26 and by increasing the total award level for this student group from four to eight-years of full-time attendance in an undergraduate program.
USC Position: SUPPORT

• SB 972 (Portantino, 2018): Would require K-12 and institutions of higher education to print the suicide prevention hotline telephone number on the back of the student identification card.
USC Position: NEUTRAL

• AB 2070 (Reyes, 2018): Would require that outreach programming provided to students during their orientation would include informing students about specified topics relating to intimate partner and dating violence.
USC Position: WATCH

• SB 691 (Lara, 2018): Would establish a policy of the State of California to afford all persons, regardless of immigration status, equal rights and opportunities in the postsecondary educational institutions of the state.
USC Position: WATCH

• SB 493 (Jackson, 2019): Would expand existing federal title IX protections relating to sexual harassment, grievance procedures, hearing rules, training and civil action.
USC Position: NEUTRAL

• AB 1176 (Garcia, 2021): Would establish the California Connect Program to ensure that high-speed broadband service is available to every household in the state at affordable rates.
USC Position: Support

• SB 40 (Hurtado, 2021): Would create a five-year pilot program, the California Medicine Scholars Program (CMSP), in order to establish a regional pipeline program for community college students to pursue premedical training and enter medical school.
USC Position: Support

• SB 768 (Steve Glazer, 2021): Would expand the eligibility of a book voucher (valued at $175 to $500 per semester/quarter) for eligible CalWORKS individuals who are participating in a full time or part time program to students enrolled at private nonprofit universities.
USC Position: Support


Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the national level?:
Yes

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the national level:

USC Federal Government Relations (FGR) is the University’s liaison to the federal government, working with Congress, the administration, federal agencies and national organizations to advocate for the University and its missions in education, research and public service.

USC FGR is tracking hearings, legislation, executive orders, and engaging with the Congressional delegation, higher education trade associations (AAU, ACE), and relevant counterparts on campus to advance or edit the following:

Legislation:
- GREEN Act – Rep. Thompson, amend tax code to provide incentives for renewable energy (Feb. 2021)
- CLEAN Future Act – Rep. Pallone, comprehensive legislation to achieve net zero GHG pollution, combat climate change, put Americans back to work, and rebuild the economy (March 2021)
- American Jobs Plan – President Biden, modernize the nation’s infrastructure (March 2021)
- Endless Frontiers Act – Sens. Schumer and Young, strengthen US leadership in critical technologies through fundamental research (April 2021)
- Climate Smart Ports Act – Rep. Barragan, EPA to establish a grant program to eligible entities to purchase and install zero emissions port equipment and technology (Jan. 2021)

Executive Orders:
- Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis (Jan. 2021)
- Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad (Jan. 2021)
- Scientific Integrity Presidential Memorandum (Jan. 2021)
- Establishing the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (Jan. 2021)

Other:
- Coalition letter to former EPA Administrator Wheeler on the importance of transparency in regulatory science (May 2020)


Does the institution advocate for public policies that support campus sustainability or that otherwise advance sustainability at the international level?:
Yes

A brief description of how the institution engages in public policy advocacy for sustainability at the international level:

In partnership with the USC Office of Sustainability, USC Athletic Director Mike Bohn signed a letter that expresses USC Athletics’ commitment to participate in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, via the United Nations Sports for Climate Action, an initiative that invites sports organizations and their stakeholders to support and help achieve global climate change goals.
The UNFCCC sets out to accomplish two objectives:
• Achieve a clear trajectory for the global sports community to combat climate change, through commitments and partnerships according to verified standards, including measuring, reducing, and reporting greenhouse gas emissions, in line with the well below 2 degree scenario enshrined in the Paris Agreement
• Use sports as a unifying tool to federate and create solidarity among global citizens for climate action

In order to accomplish the above 2 goals, the UNFCCC has identified five core guiding principles, and requires signatories to express the intent to incorporate and consider these broad goals into strategies, policies and procedures. These principles include:
1. Principle 1: Undertake systematic efforts to promote greater environmental responsibility;
2. Principle 2: Reduce overall climate impact;
3. Principle 3: Educate for climate action;
4. Principle 4: Promote sustainable and responsible consumption;
5. Principle 5: Advocate for climate action through communication.

From January 5-9, 2021, USC participated in the National (now Global) Council for Science and the Environment annual conference and Global Drawdown – Research to Action Conference to exponentially amplify opportunities for collaboration and progress. The overarching theme of the joint conference was Research to Action: Science and Solutions for a Planet Under Pressure. The first half (January 5–7) was facilitated by NCSE and focused on the physical and social realities of climate change and the way this impacts people, ecosystems, markets, and the places people live. The latter half (January 7–9) was facilitated by Project Drawdown with an objective to share the latest knowledge on climate solutions, and their effective communication and implementation to bring research to action.

Website link: https://unfccc.int/climate-action/sectoral-engagement/sports-for-climate-action/participants-in-the-sports-for-climate-action-framework#eq-1


A brief description of other political positions the institution has taken during the previous three years (if applicable):

USC has been very involved with issues surrounding student aid such as the Pell Grant program, Work Study, the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, TRIO, Head Start, and Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need through the federal government. Additionally, USC FGR has engaged Members of Congress and their staffs on opportunity zones. USC lies within an opportunity zone, a program meant to spur investment in undercapitalized communities.

USC FGR has facilitated virtual meetings with President Carol Folt and Members of Congress to discuss issues of importance like federal investments in higher education, (climate) research and sustainability, and the workforce pipeline. Traditionally, the USC President makes an annual visit to capitol Hill to personally visit with members of the California delegation, and others, to brief them on these issues and others of importance to the university.


A brief description of political donations the institution made during the previous three years (if applicable):
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Website URL where information about the institution’s sustainability advocacy efforts is available:
Additional documentation to support the submission:

USC Office of Government Relations is the primary liaison between USC and elected representatives and public agencies. Members of the government relations teams, under the leadership of vice president Martha Escutia, meet regularly with officials representing the city and county of Los Angeles, representatives in state government, and leaders in Washington D.C. The USC Office of Government Relations is part of the division of University Relations.

For more information: https://localgov.usc.edu/about/

Additional websites:

https://green.usc.edu/

https://sustainabilitysolutions.usc.edu/

https://green.usc.edu/2028-planning/

https://dornsife.usc.edu/wrigley/

https://dornsife.usc.edu/environmental-studies/

https://china.usc.edu/topics/environment

http://schwarzenegger.usc.edu/institute-in-action/energy-and-the-environment

https://unfccc.int/climate-action/sectoral-engagement/sports-for-climate-action/participants-in-the-sports-for-climate-action-framework#eq-1

The information presented here is self-reported. While AASHE staff review portions of all STARS reports and institutions are welcome to seek additional forms of review, the data in STARS reports are not verified by AASHE. If you believe any of this information is erroneous or inconsistent with credit criteria, please review the process for inquiring about the information reported by an institution and complete the Data Inquiry Form.