PROGRAM OFFICER – EARLY EDUCATION HEISING-SIMONS FOUNDATION

POSITION DESCRIPTION

PROGRAM OFFICER – EARLY EDUCATION HEISING-SIMONS FOUNDATION

Los Altos, CA – March 2016

The Opportunity

The Heising-Simons Foundation in Los Altos, CA is seeking an Education Program Officer who will manage the Foundation’s Early Education (ages birth to eight years) grantmaking with an emphasis on children’s educational transitions and learning trajectories from preschool through third grade. The Education Program Officer is a key position within the Foundation, and reports to the Education Program Director. The Program Officer will identify and work with prospective and existing grantees, monitor grantee progress, and explore new grantmaking areas. Close collaboration with program officers focusing on areas of early childhood policy, early math, family engagement, and dual language learners will be an important part of the work.

The ideal candidate will have: 1) a relevant graduate degree in child development or early childhood education with a focus on ages birth to eight years (a PhD or EdD strongly preferred); 2) a deep understanding of early childhood development in the context of family and community; 3) in-depth knowledge of research/evaluation methods and expertise in translating research for improvement of policy and practice; 4) substantive experience building programs and/or grantmaking in early childhood education ages birth to eight years; 5) expertise in approaches to aligning professional development and instruction from preschool through third grade; and 6) knowledge of workforce dynamics for early education systems.

The Foundation

Established in 2007 by husband and wife Board Members Mark Heising and Liz Simons, the Heising-Simons Foundation (www.heisingsimons.org) is dedicated to advancing sustainable solutions in the environment, supporting groundbreaking research in science, and enhancing the education of the nation’s youngest learners. The Foundation makes grants at the local, state, and national levels.

The Foundation’s grantmaking is guided by the following values:

  • A belief that education is the route to opportunity.

  • A commitment to promoting sustainability.

  • A belief in research-driven solutions.

 

A commitment to engaging and uniting stakeholders.
The Foundation currently has an asset base of about $370 million. In 2015, the Foundation

awarded $42 million in grants; $22 million were in the Education Program.

The goal of the Foundation’s grantmaking in Education is to prepare children ages birth through eight years for school and life. Emphases are in the areas of: Early Math, Family Engagement, Early Childhood Policy, and Early Educational Transitions. In addition, funding is budgeted for other interests to support grantmaking that cuts across multiple education areas and/or addresses emerging areas of interest (e.g., education and technology, dual language learners). Education funding supports different types of projects: direct services, research and evaluation to ascertain best practices, and policy analysis and advocacy designed to promote the expansion of high-quality early childhood programs. Funding for direct services is limited to San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties in California, but funding for other types of projects can be statewide or national in scope. The Foundation is a young organization and is currently engaged in strategic planning for the Education Program to further its mission and to deepen and invigorate its areas of focus.

Focus: The overall aim of the Foundation’s Early Education work is to create strong trajectories for young children’s learning from birth through third grade. A focus for this portfolio is the early education system in which early learning connects and aligns with later learning, so that education is a continuum rather than a series of fragmented experiences, and the gains made in a child’s earliest years of life can be sustained and expanded. Grantmaking will focus on children’s educational transitions and learning trajectories from preschool through third grade and will attend to professional development and other needs of the early education workforce. Grantmaking will make use of policy, practice, and research strategies. Transitions from infancy into the preschool years and intersections with the portfolios for early math, family engagement, and dual language learners may be considered.

Key Responsibilities

Knowledge

  • Understands the Foundation’s history, values, and current funding initiatives.

  • Possesses in-depth knowledge of early childhood education (ages birth to eight years),

    including current research, policy, and practice issues; innovative programs; and key

    leaders and organizations.

  • Uses expertise to review proposals for research/evaluation, policy, advocacy, or practice.

 

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Program Management

  • With the Education Program Director, further develops strategies for the Foundation’s Early

    Education grantmaking.

  • Identifies and works with prospective and existing grantees, monitors grantee progress, and

    explores new grantmaking areas.

  • Works collaboratively with program officers focusing on areas of early childhood policy,

    early math, family engagement, and dual language learners to coordinate and leverage

    grantmaking opportunities.

  • Screens proposals, applying breadth of expertise and a clear understanding of the

    Foundation’s interests.

  • Conducts site visits to current and potential grantees, and undertakes the consequent travel

    as an integral part of the position.

  • Writes coherent, accurate, and complete summaries of funding requests.

  • Monitors progress on approved grants, including scheduling and setting standards for, and

    reviewing, interim and final reports.

  • Answers substantive questions about individual projects and program areas and assesses

    contributions of these investments towards the Foundation’s strategic objectives.

  • Provides non-financial support to grantees, including advice concerning capacity building,

    fund development, project activities, and evaluation.

  • Works closely with Foundation Communications staff on issues related to Early Education.

    Reporting

  • Attends Board Meetings to discuss and support grant recommendations.

  • Provides program information to and interacts with the Board throughout the year.

  • Keeps Education Program Director, Foundation management and the Board informed on

    developments in the Early Education program area. Prepares senior staff and the Board for meetings, conferences, and grantee visits.

    Professional Development

  • Participates in joint efforts with other foundations and foundation affinity groups. Knows the

    funding landscape, including other funders who support similar projects.

  • Represents the Foundation professionally by responding to inquiries, attending meetings

    and conferences, and/or publishing in appropriate venues.

  • Develops position papers on new subject areas and/or for new Foundation initiatives,

    including developing RFPs for funding within assigned areas.

  • Seeks professional development opportunities to broaden knowledge of early education,

    philanthropy, and/or the non-profit sector.

  • Keeps current with research findings and advances in methods.

 

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Qualifications

  • A Master’s degree in a relevant field required; a PhD or EdD is strongly preferred.

  • A background and deep understanding of early childhood development and education, with

    a focus on ages birth to eight years, including knowledge of key early childhood education

    research findings and best practices.

  • Ideally, a minimum of five years’ relevant educational or professional work experience in

    early childhood education with some focus on transition to kindergarten and elementary school. Candidates who are current or recent graduates of advanced degree programs may be considered if their focus of study/research has been on relevant early childhood education.

  • An understanding of the research enterprises in major research universities and institutions in the U.S., and experience in and knowledge of research and evaluation methods.

  • Experience and understanding of California’s early education policy and practice and linkages with K-12 education would be a plus.

  • Demonstrated initiative and the ability to plan and think strategically about program design and implementation, manage large projects and budgets, set realistic goals and objectives, effectively balance multiple priorities, and excellent time management skills.

  • Excellent research, writing, and communication skills, including an ability to synthesize material and to identify major opportunities in a specific area.

  • A highly self-motivated individual who takes initiative, possesses strong interpersonal skills, and develops productive relationships with colleagues, grantees, and stakeholders as part of multifaceted partnerships.

  • An understanding of how foundations function and of the grantmaking process. Prior experience in philanthropy or grantmaking organizations preferred.

  • Excellent communication skills and the ability to represent the Foundation in diverse forums.

  • Personal motivation to exhibit the Foundation’s values, and support the Foundation’s mission, vision, and goals.

  • Integrity, solid judgment, and critical thinking skills.

  • Skilled in Microsoft Excel/Word/Outlook/PowerPoint.

  • Ability to travel locally and nationally as needed to achieve the goals of the Education

    Program and the Foundation.

  • A sense of humor and a commitment to teamwork.

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Physical Demands

  • Generates written communications using a computer.

  • Works at a desk for 2-3 hours at a time.

  • Lifts and moves documents and supplies (not to exceed 25 lbs.)

  • Bends to file or retrieve documents.

  • Travels in private vehicles and public transport.

    Compensation and Culture

    The Foundation offers an excellent benefits package and a salary that is commensurate with education and experience.

    The Foundation employs a small staff and is dedicated to promoting an environment of collaboration.

    The Foundation is an equal opportunity employer, welcomes a diverse pool of applicants, and makes employment decisions on the basis of merit. Foundation policy prohibits unlawful discrimination based on race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, pregnancy, national origin, ancestry, citizenship, age, marital status, physical disability, mental disability, military service, legally protected medical condition, or any other consideration made unlawful by federal, state, or local laws. Reasonable accommodation will be made so that qualified applicants with disabilities may participate in the application process. Please advise in writing of special needs at the time of application.

    Application Process

    Interested applicants should send a resume, cover letter and salary information by email to:

    Martha Montag Brown & Associates, LLC

    www.marthamontagbrown.com
    Email: Martha@marthamontagbrown.com Phone: 818.790.8873

 

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