Research and Policy PROGRAM OFFICER, EDUCATION
PROGRAM OFFICER, EDUCATION
About the Education Program
The Robert R. McCormick Foundation has a decades-long commitment to supporting the education and healthy development of young children in Illinois, ages birth to eight, through investments in early education, and soon plans to broaden that focus to incorporate birth through college grantmaking. A good portion of our current $6 million annual investment goes toward leveraging systemic change in the state’s early education system to improve the effectiveness and quality of care children receive. Ultimately, our aim is to help move city neighborhoods, Chicago as a whole, and the state toward ensuring that all Illinois children – particularly those most in need of extra support – move along their educational journey fully prepared and on-track to thrive to their highest potential.
The Education Program focuses its strategy on systemic ways of cultivating outstanding leaders, teachers, and families, from birth through college. The Program also aims to support its grantees to fully realize and share the impact of their work.
The program is looking for someone passionate about early childhood and K-12 and committed to ensuring more equitable outcomes of groups historically disadvantaged and most at risk of longer-term school failure. The ideal candidate will be a solutions-oriented project manager who can balance competing priorities, engage effectively with internal and external partners, think strategically, and apply philanthropic principles. The Education Program Officer will be a thought partner to the Program Director; stay abreast of policy developments, news, and recent research findings in the sector; and ensure forward momentum with grant proposals as well as the various initiatives in which the Program either leads or participates. This is a promising career opportunity for someone who loves project management and wants to sharpen his or her skills as a future education policy expert.
- Support the Program Director in implementing the Education program strategy by project managing the operational and process aspects of the portfolio:
- Help manage and plan the program grant budget and maintain budgetary projections
- Work closely with the Program Director to solicit and review proposals and letters of inquiry, prepare decline letters, and communicate clearly and responsively to prospective grantees, existing grantees and other organizations that do not receive support from the McCormick Foundation
- Analyze grantee organizations’ legal status, financial data and audits, program goals, and engage in other due diligence reviews.
- Recommend appropriate action to the Program Director as circumstances dictate
- Generate concise, coherent, well-organized, and well-written proposals to be incorporated into McCormick board presentations
- Help conceive of and coordinate meetings, convenings and site visits
- Oversee a portion of the grant portfolio, including evaluating, reviewing and identifying grant opportunities that align with the program’s strategic and philanthropic objectives
- Stay current on issues and trends around early education and develop expertise as well as an understanding of broader policy contexts within early education and the strategy areas to help support strong philanthropic decision-making
- Work closely with the Program Director to develop and deepen expertise in the education program strategy of Leaders, Teachers, Families, Influence and Data
- Be able to work effectively even amid occasional ambiguity or imperfect information
- Promote collaboration and connections among grantee partners and share knowledge, all to advance the Foundation’s and grantees’ goals
- Contribute to efforts to showcase through strategic communications and compelling storytelling grantees’ work and innovative practices occurring in the field nationwide.
- Minimum three to five years of experience in K-12 and/or higher education issues
- Bachelor’s degree required, master’s degree preferred
- Demonstrated passion for the Foundation’s values with commitment to deliver results measured against the Foundation’s mission
- Ability to travel
- Outstanding organization and collaboration skills
- Outstanding project management skills
- Adaptability and flexibility
- Strong Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
- Outstanding written and oral communication skills
- Strong presentation skills
- Must be able to work effectively in a fast-paced, impact-oriented, collaborative environment
- Ability to think strategically
- Openness to continuous learning, including an ability to reflect on and learn from constructive feedback