America has shown a striking lack of progress almost 150 years after President Ulysses S. Grant signed the Civil Rights Acts of 1871 for the purpose of “securing to all citizens of the United States the peaceful enjoyment of the rights guaranteed to them by the Constitution and the laws” and to prevent the deprivation of “the emancipated class of the substantial benefits of freedom.” Black Americans are routinely killed by police officers. Immigrant children are in cages at our Southern border. Healthcare, educational and economic inequity and instability are rampant in low income and minority communities nationwide. This is unacceptable. Responding to the urgency of our time, USC has committed to prepare, disperse and support its students to function as Agents of Change working with community-based stakeholders in the City of Los Angeles to research, structure and implement circumspect solutions to civil rights issues in systemic and individual contexts – right now.
Legal services and grassroots advocacy organizations throughout the region, as well as government agencies at both the local and state levels have already committed to hosting the first cohorts of Agents of Change students. Our students will work with our partners on areas of focus including racial justice, housing rights, immigrants rights, environmental justice, unhoused rights, and criminal justice reform.
Our current partners include:
USC Dornsife's Agents of Change: Civil Rights Advocacy Initiative brings community-based advocacy into pedagogy by weaving together direct action and a custom-tailored curriculum involving instructional collaboration between community activists, legal practitioners and government officials, on the one hand—and USC faculty on the other, with classroom learning based upon real civil rights advocacy experiences. You will work with renowned civil rights mentors in the field of your choice and build meaningful relationships with fellow students, fellow advocates, clients, and potential future employers. Throughout their participation in the program, students receive from USC approximately $1,000 per month for expenses, such as rent and food. These funds are need-based, but not limited by your overall financial aid package. They are in addition to other money you receive. Being an Agent of Change will require a significant commitment from you. It will take a great deal of time, passion, and energy — all in the service of meaningful civil rights work. The application process is selective, and we accept a limited number of highly motivated students with a demonstrated commitment to social justice. We seek students who are hard-working, self-directed and demonstrably resilient in the face of challenges. In the application process, be sure to also highlight your ability to communicate effectively and work well collaboratively on a team. For any questions about the program or the application process, please contact us here.