USC professors, staff donate part of salary to fund local non-profits

SAN MARINO, Calif. (KABC) -- A group of students are making a difference in the world because some University of Southern California professors gave up part of their salary.

Eduardo Mollinedo-Pinon says music changed his life.

In high school, he joined the Foshay Learning Center band after the Good Neighbors program paid for his instrument.

"It was always something I wanted to do but for financial reasons, my family couldn't afford an instrument or music lessons," he said.

With that instrument, Mollinedo-Pinon would earn a full music scholarship to USC and now works for an opera company.

The campaign funds 42 different local non-profits, including a dental bus that serves local school kids and a college prep program with a 100 percent success rate.

"As President of USC, I am the first generation from my family to go to college, and I've always been a big believer that a good education can set a young man or young woman for life," said C.L. Max Nikia.

ON Friday night, Nikias was welcoming to his home hundreds of USC faculty and staff members who donate at least 1 percent of their salaries to fund the work.

Since this program began in 1994, USC faculty and staff have combined to donate more than $20 million for the community.

Tamarra Anderson has donated for years.

"We're learning from each other and with each other, and we're coming together as one community," she said.

High school student Samvel Martirosyan researches potential cures for alcoholism right next to USC professors every day, thanks to the program.

"I'm thankful for the opportunity and I think we can all learn from it in a sense," Martirosyan said.

As an alum, Mollinedo-Pinon now returns to mentor the students so many so often overlook.

"If you give them a chance, the amazing things they can do," he said. "Just look at me, I'm a prime example of that."
Copyright © 2020 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.