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Spotlight on Norm Goldberger, City Year Philly’s 2024 Idealist of the Year

Norm Goldberger (center, light blue shirt) and his Ballard Spahr colleagues host a meet & greet for the Bethune Elementary service team, April 2023.

 

City Year Philadelphia’s (CYP’s) 2024 Red Jacket Gala is approaching on Thursday, May 9. This annual event brings together City Year champions for an evening dedicated to raising essential funds for our Student Success Coaches and the thousands of students they serve across 13 schools citywide. RSVP now to join us!

As part of the Gala, we are excited to honor Norm Goldberger, Senior Partner at Ballard Spahr, as one of our two Idealists of the Year. Norm has been involved with City Year since 2002 and has been a key advocate for Ballard Spahr’s engagement with CYP for the past 18 years. As a School District of Philadelphia graduate, Norm is passionate about access to quality public school education.

Read our Q&A with Norm below to learn more about his involvement with CYP and why he is dedicated to advancing educational equity. And stay tuned for our next spotlight on our other Idealist of the Year, Philadelphia City Council President Kenyatta Johnson.

 

How did you come to learn about and get involved with City Year?

I first learned about City Year through my longtime friend, Arthur Block [former longstanding CYP Board member]. We’ve known each other for 56 years, going back to our school days and working together at Wolf Block. When Comcast became involved with City Year, Arthur reached out to me to get Wolf Block involved as well. That initial involvement led to attending the annual Red Jacket Gala, sponsoring events, visiting schools, and getting more deeply involved with the organization in my current role at Ballard Spahr. Over time, I came to believe strongly in City Year’s mission and the importance of educational equity as a critical step toward broader societal impact.

Norm connects with Arthur Block at City Year Philly’s 2019 Red Jacket Gala.

 

What was your reaction when you learned that you had been named Idealist of the Year?

Honestly, my initial reaction was that it was undeserved, because we’re all partners in this work. I know there are many others who contribute far more to City Year than I do. However, if this recognition helps City Year meet its mission and raise money, then I’m truly delighted. I’ve known several people, including my good friend Arthur, who have been honored in past years, and to be among that distinguished company is more than I ever expected.

 

What resonates with you the most about City Year’s work?

What resonates most with me about City Year’s work is their school-based service approach to addressing inequities in our education system. While many programs focus on funding, legislation, or other political issues, City Year’s efforts are about hands-on, grassroots action. I believe that addressing the challenges in the school system is crucial for addressing broader equity issues in society. City Year’s dedication to this cause is what keeps me involved and inspired.

Norm (center, pink shirt) attends a tour of Ballard Spahr’s sponsored school, Bethune Elementary, in May 2023.

 

What does education equity mean to you?

Education equity, to me, means that every child has access to the resources, instruction, and support they need to engage in their learning and reach their maximum potential. It’s about leveling the playing field so that everyone has equal access and opportunity to succeed. I believe that addressing education equity is essential for creating a more just and equitable society.

 

What’s your most memorable moment or greatest accomplishment from your time being involved with City Year?

One of my most memorable moments was meeting a former Corps member, Joe Staszak [current City Year Enterprise Improvement Director], and hearing his story. Joe’s experiences and his dedication to serving his community left a lasting impression on me. Additionally, visiting a school and seeing that students need and deserve updated technology, like newer computers, was a real reminder of the challenges our education system faces and the urgent need for positive impact.

 

Are you considering a year of service, or do you know someone who is? City Year Philly is currently hiring full-time tutors and mentors for the 2024-2025 school year. Start your journey today!

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