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This Q&A is part of a series highlighting the 2022 Black Women Give List honorees.
Carol Goss made a career of advocating for children and families disproportionately affected by inequitable systems in the U.S. When she retired in 2013 as President and CEO of The Skillman Foundation, she spent a year at Harvard University on a fellowship. Now, she is dedicating her time, energy, knowledge, and passion to Warrior Women Against Poverty to give Black families the support they need to thrive.
Goss was recently featured in the 2022 Black Women Give List, an initiative of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, Black Philanthropy Month and The Women Invested to Save the Earth (WISE) Fund. Building on research that demonstrates the unique perspectives women across race and ethnicity bring to philanthropy and recognizing women as leaders for racial justice issues, the list highlights the contributions Black women donors have made around the world.
Goss recently shared her thoughts with Giving Compass. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Briefly, can you describe some of your philanthropic work that you are most excited about?
I founded – with other Black women friends and colleagues – Warrior Women Against Poverty. This is a movement of Black women to support and improve the lives of our most vulnerable children and families. Our mission was to be a friend, a mentor, and provide a network of support that many did not have. We began this work in 2015 in partnership with COTS (a program focused on homeless families and children). I love this work. It has brought enormous understanding and gratitude to me and all of the women we support. This year we had our first community college graduate and she has moved on to a four-year university. I can’t explain the enormous sense of pride we all felt when she graduated.
How have your personal experiences as a Black woman informed your approach to philanthropy?
I grew up in a strong Black family in Detroit. My mother cared about her neighborhood and her community. She was always so encouraging to young people because she recognized them as our future but she also understood that families need support. Some families more than others. I realized that much of my own success is related to other strong Black women, supporting and advocating for me. Aunts and neighbors and teachers and members of my church were all invested in my success and growth. They saw something in me that I couldn’t even see myself. What I realize is I have to give that investment back to others and I do.
Can you discuss the impact you’ve made through Warrior Women Against Poverty and the challenges that still exist?
Warrior Women Against Poverty is a young organization. Our women set goals that will help them move towards self-sufficiency including stable housing, meaningful employment, completing education programs, and stable health and wellbeing for themselves and their children. Our women are completing their GED and going to community college. They have jobs and a cohort has started their own businesses, becoming entrepreneurs. They are artists, caterers, photographers, and human service workers. Their children have made it through the pandemic with minimal loss of learning and they are doing well. This year it is our plan to formalize our evaluation and capture progress against goals. Warrior Women Against Poverty is an all-volunteer organization. We have no paid staff. We are committed women who want to make a difference. We began this work, recognizing there is a war against children in our community. We have to fight for them; we have to be warriors.
What are you most hopeful about?
I am most hopeful and encouraged that our families can weather their current challenges and move toward stability in their lives. The current economic challenges affect our families the most; higher food costs, housing, and gas prices are difficult. They are demonstrating that they have the resilience, the skills, and the support to be successful. We see it in their voices and their interactions with others.
What advice would you give other philanthropists?
Follow your passion, bring patience and hope, and never give up no matter the crisis.