Program Officer – Education

The Kresge Foundation is a $3.5 billion private, national foundation that works to expand opportunities in America’s cities through grantmaking and investing in arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services and community development efforts in Detroit. In 2014, the Board of Trustees approved 408 awards totaling $242.5 million; $138.1 million was paid out to grantees over the course of the year, including a $100 million award to the Foundation for Detroit’s Future, a fund created to soften the impact of the city’s bankruptcy on pensioners and safeguard cultural assets at the Detroit Institute of Arts. In addition, our Social Investment Practice made commitments totaling $20.4 million in 2014.

Available Position: Program Officer – Education

Our Education Program has an immediate opening for a program officer.

Our Board of Trustees recently approved a refinement to the Education Program. With this refinement, we will fund efforts designed to support student-focused postsecondary access and success in cities, with a special focus on low-income, first-generation and underrepresented students. 

The new program officer will assist in the implementation of this new strategic direction. The program team seeks to support pathways to and through college for students; build the capacity of institutions that focus on low-income, first-generation and underrepresented students; and support and enhance local higher education ecosystems to improve postsecondary attainment. While the bulk of the team’s work is domestic, it also oversees a small budget supporting postsecondary access and success in South Africa – Kresge’s sole international grantmaking area. 

The Education Program uses the full array of tools available to foster change, including planning grants, project grants and general operating support, and is exploring possible program-related investments for organizations whose work directly corresponds with funding priorities.

The individual filling this position will report to the Education Program team’s managing director and work in close partnership with a small team of program staff, as well as with the foundation’s grants management staff and with peer foundations promoting postsecondary access and success. This position is based in metropolitan Detroit.

Primary responsibilities of the program officer position include:

  • With the Education Program managing director and team, contributing to grantmaking strategy implementation for the program.
  • Participating in funder and cross-sector collaboratives to achieve program objectives.
  • Contributing to the team’s development of criteria to evaluate the effectiveness of the portfolio and participate in the evaluation of the results.
  • With other team members, sharing collective responsibility for reaching annual investment and grant targets.
  • Obtaining, maintaining and sharing a high level of knowledge of the most effective strategies and current thinking in the education and social-change fields – what works, what are the most effective and/or innovative ways to support the work and how to implement strategies with partners.
  • Interacting with other education grantmakers, nonprofit leaders and public- and private-sector stakeholders active in postsecondary access and success to assess developments in the field and strategic points for philanthropic engagement.
  • Preparing, individually and with other team members, strategy papers, grant recommendations and other written materials for the foundation’s management and Board of Trustees.
  • Identifying grant possibilities that advance the Education Program’s strategies.
  • Evaluating ideas submitted via in-person meetings, phone calls, letters of inquiry and/or grant proposals.
  • Analyzing grantee reports and updates.
  • With other team members, exploring the use of social-investment tools – such as program-related investments – to achieve program objectives.



  • A minimum of five years of experience and senior leadership in relevant postsecondary or nonprofit education services fields is required.
  • A bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience in the postsecondary access and success is required; a master’s degree and relevant credentialing preferred.
  • Grantmaking experience is preferred.
  • Experience in the development, implementation and evaluation of strategies to affect change is required.
  • Experience in working collaboratively across the nonprofit, private and public sectors is required.


  • Excellent analytical and writing skills.
  • Effective time-management skills, with demonstrated ability to manage a diverse and demanding workload in a fast-paced environment.
  • Strong verbal communication and interpersonal skills, including the ability to speak publicly and work effectively as a member of a team.
  • Demonstrated financial-analysis skills, including the ability to analyze audited financials, balance sheets and business plans of nonprofit organizations; facility with complex financial instruments desirable.
  • Excellent project-management skills and the ability to chart one’s own direction collaboratively.

Supporting the work of the Education Program team

  • Ability to serve as an ambassador for the foundation externally, including the ability to undertake extensive (about 30 percent of time) domestic and, on occasion, international travel.
  • Demonstrated familiarity with several of the Education Program team’s grantmaking areas, including minority-serving institutions; community colleges; college-access programs; state higher education systems; city-based efforts to improve local college access and success; higher education technology and productivity; counseling and advising; transfer and articulation; nonacademic challenges to student success outside of the classroom; institutional advancement; South African higher education; and/or knowledge of our primary domestic focus states.


  • Commitment to the foundation's vision and its five values (stewardship, respect, creativity, partnership and opportunity), and the ability to demonstrate that commitment in daily interactions. 
  • Commitment to low-income people and social justice.

Please send a cover letter and resume to [email protected] by May 20, 2015.

The Kresge Foundation is an Equal Opportunity Employer and we welcome a diverse pool of candidates. We offer a competitive total compensation package including health, dental, vision, long-term disability and short-term disability insurances, generous paid time off and a 401K employer contribution and employee match program. We also provide professional staff development and tuition reimbursement.

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