Program Officer, William Penn Foundation

Posted by William Penn Foundation on December 5, 2016

Title: Program Officer

Specific Focus: Education, Advocacy, and Special Projects

Reports to: Education Program Director

Direct Reports: 0-1

Location: Philadelphia

Travel: Regional/Domestic Travel – 5-10%

Effective Date: November 2016

The William Penn Foundation is dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Greater Philadelphia region through efforts that increase educational opportunities for children from low-income families, ensure a sustainable environment, foster creativity that enhances civic life, and advance philanthropy in the Philadelphia region. Since inception, the Foundation has made nearly 10,000 grants totaling over $1.6 billion. In 2015, the Foundation made grants totaling over $100 million and held assets of over $2.3 billion.

The Foundation’s three core priorities are to:

  • Increase the number of children from low-income families in Philadelphia receiving a high-quality education.
  • Ensure clean water by protecting the Delaware River watershed.
  • Foster a vital and diverse cultural region by investing in the health and sustainability of arts and cultural organizations and in great public spaces.

The Foundation believes that strategic grantmaking in these areas is critical to the success of the region and seeks candidates who will operate with a sense of urgency and leadership in advancing this work.

Position Summary

As a member of the education team, the Program Officer will lead grantmaking focused on the development and maintenance of policies that appropriately resource schools, centers, and programs in Pennsylvania. This will include managing an existing $5-6 million portfolio of grants supporting advocacy, research, and communications related to education policy; working closely with a colleague to oversee early childhood education advocacy grants; monitoring implementation and evaluating impacts of Foundation-supported advocacy efforts; and identifying emerging needs and planning for future advocacy grantmaking.

In addition to the focus on education advocacy funding, the Program Officer will have substantial responsibilities that advance the Foundation’s work across program areas. The Program Officer will be expected to serve as a resource for colleagues across the Foundation on policy and advocacy issues, best practices, and requirements. The Program Officer will work with other colleagues to identify and understand trends, issues, challenges, risks, and opportunities for the Foundation, and will lead other internal and external planning, evaluation, and/or communications projects. While the direct focus of the Foundation’s work is regional, it is assumed and desired that the Program Officer’s influence on thought leadership be national.


  • Develop specific grants and initiatives to advance coordinated education issue-focused advocacy campaigns.
  • Identify evidentiary and dissemination needs that support advocacy efforts.
  • Provide expertise to staff Foundation-wide and consult with legal counsel on advocacy strategies, effective and appropriate foundation roles related to advocacy, and legal restrictions and requirements.
  • Facilitate project planning, coordination, reporting, monitoring, and communication among grantees to ensure successful completion of the work.
  • Maintain and build content expertise by staying abreast of current research and data at the national and local levels, and by participating in related convenings and conferences.
  • Participate in education program team meetings, planning, and goal setting.
  • Create annual and multi-year plans to support progress toward the Foundation’s objectives, and identify and track gaps and needed adjustments.
  • Prepare written materials for internal and external audiences that summarize active and potential grants and effectively communicate the Foundation’s objectives.
  • Communicate regularly with grantees, project partners, and potential funders of advocacy efforts.
  • Represent the Foundation in diverse communities, including speaking engagements, and participate in key internal and external meetings.
  • Other responsibilities as assigned.

Depending on the interests, experience, and expertise of applicants, responsibilities will include some or all of the following:

  • Planning and implementation of internal projects that strengthen operations across the Foundation. This may include program planning and grant portfolio reviews, development of organizational infrastructure, or data collection and analysis.
  • Strategic communication with internal and external stakeholders, including preparing materials and learning opportunities for the Foundation’s Board of Directors, the broader Philadelphia community, and philanthropic colleagues.

Education, Training, and Experience

  • Advanced degree in education, policy, law, or related field preferred
  • Bachelor’s degree required
  • A minimum of six years of relevant work experience
  • Experience with and knowledge of education policy and advocacy, including knowledge of Philadelphia and Pennsylvania regulations and statutes
  • Familiarity with public education and education funding
  • Understanding and experience with multiple modes of educating diverse constituencies about complex issues
  • Demonstrated commitment to improving public education
  • Experience setting priorities in dynamic environments
  • Experience developing, managing, and implementing multi-party projects with defined objectives, deliverables, monitoring, and evaluation of results
  • Experience developing strategy
  • Experience with evaluative research methods preferred
  • Proficiency with MS Office including PowerPoint and other presentation skills

Required Competencies

Strategic Agility and Ability: Ability to see risks and opportunities and design innovative approaches backed by strong analysis, planning, and problem solving.

Outcomes-Focus: Results-driven approach, supported by a focus on quality and strong project management skills, deadline management, sense of responsibility and accountability and the ability to effectively multi-task. Strong work ethic.

Attention to detail and timelines: Excellent organizational skills with attention to detail, ability to manage time effectively with multiple projects on different time frames, and excellent ability to collaborate with colleagues to complete tasks.

Partnership and Relationship Building: Strong professional representation, interpersonal relationship abilities, intercultural knowledge and appreciation, strategic partnership building. Operates with poise, humility, diplomacy, and tact.

Communications and Management: Strong interpersonal and communication abilities; exceptional writing, oral, and listening skills; skills in team building, coaching, mentoring, delegating, inspiring and motivating internally and externally.

Openness and Curiosity: An awareness that excellent ideas come from many sources.

Physical Demands/Work Environment

The physical demands and work environment characteristics described are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to walk, bend, sit, talk, lift, or hear. The employee is regularly required to stand, walk, and use hands and arms to operate general office equipment (personal computer, telephone, file cabinet, copier, printer). The employee may occasionally lift and/or move up to ten pounds. The noise level in the work environment is usually low to moderate.

The William Penn Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and considers applications without regard to race, color, religion, creed, age, gender, marital status, or sexual orientation. All who believe they meet the stated qualifications are invited to apply.

Interested candidates should send a resume and cover letter to

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