Darrin Goss Sr.
President and CEO, Coastal Community Foundation
Ordained minister Darrin Goss Sr. has pastored three churches.
As president and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Coastal Community Foundation (CCF), he can also be considered an evangelist for high-quality education.
CCF manages endowment funds used to address community needs in nine counties along South Carolina’s coast.
“For the past four years, we have focused on three community priorities that we’ve heard from Lowcountry residents,” said Goss. “First is supporting high-quality education. Second is economic mobility and opportunities for marginalized communities. Third is housing affordability as it relates to who has access to the best schools in the region.”
Education, equity, and access. Teach For America South Carolina (TFASC) lies at the meeting place of these priorities.
Goss acknowledges the kinship.
“What I learned in education is that we need to create an ecosystem of great schools that are supported by great teachers and administrators,” he said. “We must create flexibility and autonomy to engage kids at the point of influence. TFASC’s fantastic model supports an ecosystem of great educators.
Goss first saw the power of Teach For America (TFA) in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where he was president and CEO of Capital Area United Way.
“I was a ‘Teacher for the Day’ working with a TFA member,” remembered Goss. “I saw the eagerness of young minds in a classroom led by a young TFA teacher. I’ve never forgotten that.”
He added, “What inspires me about TFASC is its teachers. They bring energy and honesty to the profession – it is powerfully refreshing to me. High-performing teachers need empathy to truly serve their communities, and it is there in abundance. I see TFASC as a calling and a service.”
Goss started his career journey by earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Wofford College in 1993. After college graduation, he served as a U.S. Army officer, then worked at Sunoco, Wofford College, and United Way in both Greenville, South Carolina and Baton Rouge. Along the way, he earned his master’s degree in Christian ministries from North Greenville University.
In 2016, Goss took the helm of CCF, which is headquartered in Charleston. He now oversees management of more than 700 charitable funds and $410 million in combined assets. These resources make CCF one of the 70 largest community foundations in the United States.
Goss shared, “At CCF, we have a philosophy: We don’t do things to communities; we work with communities. A critical first step is communication – talking with the community. They need to be a part of the redesign and reimagining of their schools. Their voices are our tuning fork.”
“Funding and other kinds of support need to align with the local economics and culture. Why? Because culture eats strategy for lunch,” added Goss. “We start by listening to people, then applying and implementing – to the degree that’s practical – what people want for their children.”
Under his leadership, TFASC recently moved its offices into CCF’s building, and CCF continued to support TFASC through several community grants, including a three-year catalyst grant that was awarded in 2022 to launch TFASC’s New Teacher Academy.
His advice to TFASC teachers?
“Show up and be who you are,” said Goss. “The reason you came to this work is that you have a passion. The same things that put the drive in your heart make you effective in the classroom and in your community. Be your authentic self. Be the educator you are – you have great value.”
“And stay, if you can. South Carolina needs you to be in the classroom,” he concluded.
South Carolina schools and students will say amen to that.