- In what ways do you see New Schools for Baton Rouge’s work aligned with the work of the United Way in Baton Rouge?
At Capital Area United Way, we believe that every child should be empowered to succeed, both professionally and personally. Our mission is to improve lives by leveraging partnerships to advance the common good and to create opportunities for a better life for all. When a child is successful in school, it is a win for the entire community. New Schools for Baton Rouge’s work to recruit and launch high quality schools in our city is aligned with our vision for quality early learning environments and schools. Our work focuses on addressing the three building blocks for a better life: education, income stability and healthy living. At CAUW, our goal is to create long-lasting changes by addressing the underlying causes of problems in Baton Rouge. Together, NSBR and CAUW can work to address the big issues facing the education landscape in our city. There is an opportunity to change the way we, as a community, are thinking about success, how we are talking about success, and how we are measuring success.
- How is the United Way evolving the way it measures a high quality education?
I look at it through the lens of a parent and ask myself “would I want my son to go to school here?” A big part of a high quality education system is parents having access to a diverse set of options, all of which are quality options. At an individual school, I would want to see that the teachers have access to the tools to develop critically important skills; and I would want to know that high quality, high performing teachers were being retained. Another important factor for parents is that the school looks warm and inviting, it has an atmosphere that makes you feel good about being there. As an organization, we place an emphasis on engagement across different groups. We want to see an environment where people–parents, community members, students, administrators—can be connected and know how to be engaged.
- What is the impact of a high quality education system on a community?
A high quality education system has a direct economic impact on a community. Every community needs a strong, qualified workforce. A qualified workforce has strong candidates in fields that vary from certificate programs and trade schools to our degreed workers and those attending professional schools. A quality education system is a sure way to deliver that workforce. Baton Rouge needs high quality schools that can move any student, regardless of their race or income level, to being successful in college, career, and life.
- What do you think is possible for education in Baton Rouge and Louisiana? How do you see the civic community playing a role in that vision?
Anything is possible for education in Baton Rouge, as long as we have a community that is committed to driving the vision. As the United Way refocuses our mission and our strategies, we are ready to make what seems impossible possible. With organizations like New Schools for Baton Rouge thinking of bold new strategies to address problems and a new superintendent leading the East Baton Rouge School System, Baton Rouge is positioned to reshape education. If Baton Rouge, through the civic community and business leaders, can develop a clear and shared vision on what success looks like for our community, we have the power to turn our education system around, and it won’t take a generation. Community must be part of the plan and the solution so that we can drive a clear vision of success that champions the most important individuals in all of this work: students.
Darrin Goss Sr. is the President/CEO of Capital Area United Way. Darrin joined Capital Area United Way after serving as Vice president, Community Impact for United Way of Greenville County in South Carolina. Darrin earned his undergraduate degree from Wofford College and an advanced degree from North Greenville University. He has served our county as an Army Officer holding several leadership and command positions. Darrin is married to Martetha “Vee” Goss, and the couple has one grown son, Darrin Goss, Jr.