Public Service Program Receives Grant
Wednesday, Jun 27, 2012
Street Law embraces relationship with local teens
By Maria Iacobo
The USC Neighborhood Outreach program has awarded a grant to USC Street Law, a program that connects law students with neighborhood schoolchildren to share a practical education about the law through topics and situations relevant to their lives.
“This grant is one recognition of the many ways our students and Office of Public Service work to improve our community,” says Robert K. Rasmussen, Dean and Carl Mason Franklin Chair in Law and Professor of Law and Political Science.
Street Law, one of the USC Gould School of Law’s public service programs, allows law students to serve as mentors for inner-city middle and high school students. In addition to weekly lessons about law, democracy and human rights and teaching respect for law, the neighborhood students are invited to spend a day at the law school each semester. “Mentor Day” allows neighborhood students to engage with USC students about the value of staying in school and getting into college.
Crystal Luisjuan, 17, a rising senior at New Designs Charter School, says she benefits from the frequent visits of USC Law students whom she has been learning from over the past three years.
“Each year we study a different topic,” Crystal says. “In ninth grade, we learned about English common law. This year we learned about different types of contract law, the amendments and how a courtroom works.”
Previous grants have funded the purchase of textbooks for students and legal curriculum training for their teachers. The addition of the textbooks provides a more meaningful learning experience for the high school students, according to Malissa Barnwell-Scott, director of the law school’s Office of Public Service.
“At New Designs, they now have a teacher who is able and willing to teach a class in law,” Barnwell-Scott says. “The grant provides the opportunity for students to have a deeper understanding of the law.”
Every year, 60 to 100 law students volunteer to visit the high schools to talk about different aspects of the law and how it applies to the students. They also help to de-mystify the entry to higher education and law school.
“It gives us the opportunity to meet people who are actually studying the law,” says Jasmine Aguilar, 16, and a rising senior at New Designs Charter School. “We’re both students.”
Aguilar also says that the law students helped the high school students recognize how laws impact their lives and the lives of their families, and encouraged them to share the legal information with others.
“The law students really enjoy going to the classrooms,” Barnwell-Scott says. “In addition to Mentor Day on the USC campus, they are planning to take their students on a field trip to the Los Angeles Superior Court.”
USC Neighborhood Outreach works to enhance the quality of life in the neighborhoods surrounding the University Park and Health Sciences campuses. Gifts from USC faculty, staff and other donors through the annual USC Good Neighbors Campaign are the primary source of USC Neighborhood Outreach funding.