Carol Goss is selling hope — for free.
Goss, an advanced leadership fellow at the Harvard University School of Business, will share a free, public talk — “No Longer Stuck in Place: Hope for the Future” — as the first speaker in the 2014-15 season of the Brothers on the Rise, Alpha Phi Boule and Association of Black Faculty and Staff Lecture Series.
Her presentation will be held Wednesday, Nov. 5, at 7 p.m. in the Student Union Ingman Room.
The subject of hope, particularly as it applies to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, is familiar territory for Goss, who retired last year after 15 years with Detroit’s Skillman Foundation, the last nine as president of that storied nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the future of Motor City children.
“I’ve mentored a lot of young people, given them a lot of advice on how to be successful, and I believe that older adults with experience should find ways to share,” said Goss, whose career in philanthropy also includes stints with the Stuart Foundation in San Francisco and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, Mich.
The success Goss will speak about can come from directions many young people haven’t even considered, she noted: “I hope that young people will think about other options like having your own business or pursuing careers in higher education. Opportunities for success are out there, and they represent achievable goals.”
Such goals don’t happen magically, she added. “Success requires a very intentional effort. But before that, young people need to have hope. They need to be able to see themselves as having a future and having a goal before they can work toward both. That sense of hope is what I plan to talk about.”
Goss, who grew up in Detroit as one of five children in the tight-knit Goings family, gave credit to her family and the surrounding community: “There was a shared commitment to protection and encouragement for children. The challenges that today’s young people still face were there, but the support we had was strong.
“Nowadays that protection and encouragement are sometimes lacking in families and in communities. Yet that doesn’t mean that young people today can’t be successful.”
With three daughters, Goss is especially tuned in to the challenges facing young African-American women trying to escape poverty. She cited a study by the National Women’s Law Center showing a startling lack of progress.
“We don’t hear about the abysmal high school graduation rates and college matriculation rates for these girls, or how many of them as adults are still relegated to low-wage jobs. We have to do something about this.”
A call to action will be central to her speech. “My message is a message of hope,” she said. “If the students who listen will work hard, if they’ll display grit and determination, if they really see themselves in the future and work toward that goal, they don’t have to be fated to a life of poverty.
“Success is tangible, and it can be achieved.”
The event is co-sponsored by the Black Student Union, Latino Student Union and the Association for the Advancement of African American Women.