University of Southern California

$15k Raised at 5K
Campus Event will Build Libraries for Children
March 22, 2013 • by News at Marshall

The USC chapter of the World Is Just a Book Away (WIJABA) raised $15,000 to build two libraries for underprivileged children in Indonesia and Mexico at its third-annual 5K run on March 3.

Founded in 2008 by James Owens, associate professor of clinical management communication at the USC Marshall School of Business, WIJABA aims to empower future leaders by promoting literacy and education.

"These libraries will serve more than 500 children, many of whom have never held a book before," said Stephanie Wetzel '14, co-president of the WIJABA USC Club. "These libraries are built in very poor areas, either in Mexico or Indonesia. The books offered to the children are written in either the local language or English, a good mix of both."

Co-presidents Wetzel and Aaron Barg '14 coordinated this year's event, which drew approximately 375 participants. They were assisted by VP of Operations Emily Welch '14; Treasurer Claire Staggs '14; VP of Programming Kelsey Knapp '15 (who planned the children's 1K and activities); VP of Philanthropy, Panhellenic Council Claire Baugher '14; and VP of Philanthropy, Interfraternity Council Kevin Koeller '15.

In addition, Ken Park MBA '05, associate director of MBA admissions, volunteered his time and played a key role in pulling the event together. Marshall MBA alumnus Jonathan Schwartz '05 sponsored the event through the company he founded, Splits59, and USC alumni Alexander Evans-Pfeiffer and Barak Federman donated cookies from their philanthropic business, Kuki Squared, for the race and opportunity drawing. 

"This 5K was by far the largest yet," said Owens. "The co-presidents did an incredible job: expanding the event, initiating a 1K for children under age 10, including 30 USC fraternities and sororities and partnering with the USC Association of Indonesian Students. Having sponsorship through Splits59, along with Jonathan Schwartz's and Ken Park's time and energy, also made an enormous difference in helping to reach the fundraising goal."

Many of the WIJABA USC Club's current members are in fraternities and sororities at USC. In total, 127 sorority members and 88 fraternity members participated in the event. The library in Indonesia, opening this summer, will be named in honor of the Panhellenic and Interfraternity Councils of the University of Southern California. The one in Mexico, which will open in May, will be named the USC WIJABA Club 5K Library 2013.

Since its founding in 2010, the WIJABA USC Club has raised funds to build a total of four libraries, including the two to be built this year. The national organization has built more than 50 libraries and launched two mobile libraries with 50,000 books for more than 27,000 underprivileged primary school children in Indonesia and Mexico. 

"In the 16 years I have worked at USC, I have seen the power of Trojan networking," Owens said, "and I am so proud to be part of this 5K race organized by USC students.

"The fact that 375 people participated and that it raised $15,000 to build two libraries for more than 500 children is an amazing illustration of the power of the Trojan Family coming together to do good in the world," continued Owens, who noted the 14-person WIJABA Board includes six USC alumni—four from Marshall—and that Dean James G. Ellis also serves on the Advisory Board.

About the USC Marshall School of Business
Consistently ranked among the nation's premier schools, USC Marshall is internationally recognized for its emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation, social responsibility and path-breaking research. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, one of the world's leading business centers and the U.S. gateway to the Pacific Rim, Marshall offers its 5,700-plus undergraduate and graduate students a unique world view and impressive global experiential opportunities. With an alumni community spanning 123 countries, USC Marshall students join a worldwide community of thought leaders who are redefining the way business works.