With professional roots in business and the tech industry and family roots in community and civic engagement, Tricia and Jeff Raikes’ values and commitment to improving community run deep. As they embarked on their own personal philanthropic journey, they were inspired by their three children and the belief that real change for the future rests with young people. Founded in 2002 and based in Seattle, the Raikes Foundation has been a leader in catalyzing systems-level change and influencing issues related to young people and impact-driven philanthropy. As living donors and trustees of the foundation, Tricia and Jeff Raikes are deeply committed to their philanthropic initiatives and actively engaged in the strategic direction of the foundation.
The Raikes Foundation has invested nearly $115 million in grants since its founding in 2002 and the Raikes have used their name and influence to leverage impact far beyond their dollars. This first phase of giving has evolved an innovative approach to philanthropy that is committed to equity, collaboration, systems transformation, learning, and advocacy. The Raikes’ approach, combined with the discipline to invest in programming with catalytic potential, has already led to significant contributions in areas related to youth homelessness and education, and has inspired the development of tools and technologies that will transform the work of philanthropy into the future. The Raikes’ commitment to a fresh approach to philanthropy has also attracted a team of exceptional leaders, each a significant contributor to the development of the foundation’s strategy and programming. Now at a pivotal moment, the foundation seeks a new Executive Director who will lead the next phase of impact and increased investment for the Raikes Foundation. The Executive Director will be a trusted advisor to the trustees in the further articulation, refinement, and execution of their philanthropic vision and will bring organizational leadership to the foundation that advances that vision.
The successful candidate will be a seasoned strategist with proven and progressive leadership combined with a track record of innovation, systems change, and a learning orientation that fosters impact and effectiveness in the art of grantmaking and philanthropic investment. The new Executive Director will possess an inclusive leadership style, outstanding management skills, and experience building and supporting high-functioning teams. The new Executive Director will be an adaptive, collaborative leader who engenders trust and respect with the aim of developing philanthropic strategies grounded in social justice and equity that are nimble, responsive, and reflective of the communities the foundation serves and the change the trustees seek through their giving.
The Raikes Foundation is grounded and disciplined by its commitment to impactful philanthropy. Tricia and Jeff Raikes were inspired early on by the catalytic potential of investing in youth and youth-serving systems and at the same time were excited about leveraging their resources and business acumen to support field alignment and innovation in philanthropy. In the first years of the foundation’s work, the Raikes articulated the foundation’s belief in the unlimited potential of young people and its commitment to work toward a just and inclusive society where all young people have the support they need to reach their full potential. This focus led to careful attention to the systemic barriers often impeding the potential of far too many, particularly low-income children and young people of color. The foundation’s work in education, youth homelessness, and expanded learning opportunities focuses on eliminating these barriers and works to change systems that have traditionally been, and continue to be, inequitable.
The foundation’s holistic, collaborative, and innovative approach to systems change is central in all its programs. The foundation works to strengthen the philanthropic and non-profit sectors by engaging in research to better understand the barriers that donors face in giving with impact, developing and strengthening the field of donor support, and developing strategies and tools to increase effective giving. The foundation’s team models its approach to impactful giving through investment in a range of youth systems. Their aspirations include a commitment to making youth and young adult homelessness a rare, brief, and one-time occurrence, to ensuring classrooms enable all children to thrive, and to raising the level of quality in programs that serve students outside the regular school day.
THE FOUNDATION’S GUIDING VALUES
Impact: The Raikes Foundation believes in the potential of philanthropy to better our world.
The power of young people: The Raikes Foundation believes in the boundless potential of young people to change the world. By acknowledging the humanity in every young person and ensuring systems work for those who have been most marginalized, all young people will be able to reach their full potential.
Equity: The Raikes Foundation aspires to a more just and equitable world and accepts its responsibility to understand and address the longstanding racial and social inequities that shape the systems it aims to impact today. Its commitment to equity guides the problems it aims to solve, the partners it chooses, and the actions it takes.
Systemic change: The Raikes Foundation believes that the most enduring impact comes from improving systems, not just focusing on specific programs or organizations. To achieve change at this level, the foundation focuses on high-leverage opportunities for impact where private philanthropy can play a catalytic role.
Collaboration and partnership: Systems-level change doesn’t happen without collaboration and deep engagement with the communities the systems serve. Multiple constituencies must work together to advance solutions. Collaboration is an essential ingredient of the foundation’s approach, both internally and externally.
Learning: The work of the Raikes Foundation is always evolving. The desire to continuously learn drives the foundation to seek and embrace feedback, integrate new information, reflect on successes and failures, and always look for ways to more effectively achieve its mission.
Diversity of knowledge and expertise: The Raikes Foundation uses scientific research and data to inform its work while also proactively seeking out the insights and expertise of people with lived experience from the communities it serves, especially young people.
CURRENT INITIATIVES AND AREAS OF FOCUS
Society has many pressing issues and causes that need to be addressed urgently with long-term solutions and philanthropic support. Over the next 50 years, donors will contribute nearly $20 trillion to nonprofit organizations, and yet high-quality resources offering proven tools and approaches to philanthropy are not easily accessible. This presents an enormous opportunity for those interested in innovation in philanthropy and social sector technologies to contribute to progress on pressing social issues, and to solve some of our greatest challenges. The Impact-Driven Philanthropy Initiative was created because Jeff and Tricia believe that the social sector can do more to help donors who want to give well. They seek to unlock knowledge about how to give with impact for donors who are hungry for opportunities to contribute to lasting, meaningful change. In the summer of 2017, the Raikes Foundation launched the Giving Compass, which aggregates the world’s best information to help donors home in on strategies to give well. The Raikes Foundation is committed to modeling impactful philanthropy and much of its programming focuses on young people.
All young people should have access to rich, supportive, and challenging educational experiences that affirm who they are and prepare them to thrive as adults in family, community, and career. However, the education system today is a relic of another era. Race and class remain the most reliable predictors of students’ educational outcomes at a time when our school systems and our nation are becoming more diverse. The Raikes Foundation focuses on creating an education system that is responsive to the needs and experiences of all young people, particularly students of color and those from low-income backgrounds, and how the science of learning and development points the way. This research reinforces that while what students learn is important, the environment adults create to support them is essential to their success as adults. Investing in an equitable education system is one of the most important contributions to help create a more just and economically viable society.
Every year more than 4.2 million young people, ages 13 to 25, experience homelessness in the United States. Overwhelmingly, they are youth of color and young people who identify as LGBTQ. The foundation believes youth homelessness is solvable. As a society, there are missed opportunities through our public schools, child welfare, behavioral health, and juvenile justice systems to recognize the early warning signs of young people in crisis and connect them to supportive services, in a faster, more integrated fashion. Communities can do more to create an effective crisis response system where youth homelessness can be a rare, brief, one-time occurrence. The foundation offers support and works with others to support communities to better understand the needs of young people, more effectively align services, and offer innovative solutions.
Expanded Learning Opportunities
The Raikes Foundation is in its final year of investment in the Expanded Learning Opportunities (ELO) strategy, a ten-year effort to ensure high quality learning and developmental opportunities for youth outside of the formal school day. The foundation’s investments have led to the development of a statewide system for high quality ELO programs that serves hundreds of organizations across Washington and is linked to the state’s quality system for early learning, ensuring Washington has an integrated framework for quality programs from birth to age 18. As this work is completed in early 2019, the foundation will continue to ensure that the strides made over the strategy’s ten-year lifespan are sustained and key learnings are applied to the foundation’s future initiatives.
Opportunities and Challenges Facing the New Executive Director
With primary responsibility for overall organizational leadership, the Executive Director will work closely with the trustees, staff, and external stakeholders to advance the mission of the foundation and bring leadership in key areas. In the first 12-18 months, the new Executive Director can expect to engage in the following opportunities and challenges:
Build strong and trusting relationships with the trustees that help further refine and focus the foundation’s strategic direction.
The Executive Director will serve as a thought partner to the trustees in the ongoing development of the foundation’s strategy, approach, and philanthropic investments. S/he/they will contribute expertise in effective philanthropy and will provide ongoing counsel on emerging trends and opportunities, as well as ways to more deeply embed an equity lens into the foundation’s grantmaking strategies and partnerships with grantees and key stakeholders. The Executive Director will focus on impact and will support the robust dialogue of the trustees and staff in a culture of ongoing learning and intellectual rigor.
Ensure that the foundation’s philanthropic initiatives continue to align with and fulfill the trustees’ values and vision of impact with an integrated focus on equity and systems level change.
The Executive Director will partner with the senior team to develop, implement, and refine the Impact-Driven Philanthropy initiative in support of the broader field of philanthropy, and the foundation’s current focus areas of Education and Youth Homelessness, as well as future areas of focus. S/he/they will identify opportunities for integration and cross-learning between program areas, explore how the tools of technology and the private sector can be leveraged to advance the foundation goals, and will ensure proposed grantmaking, advocacy, and other investments advance the foundation’s strategic priorities and systems-level change. The Executive Director will also identify strategies to integrate and honor the voices of youth and those with lived experience in the systems and issues the foundation hopes to influence. Finally, the Executive Director will integrate and synergize effective approaches to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), across the foundation and with grantees in close partnership with the organization’s new Director of DEI.
Attract, nurture, and motivate a highly capable and talented staff in support of the foundation’s mission.
The Raikes Foundation is proud of its talented, passionate, and leader-full team. The Executive Director will continue to foster a learning culture grounded in intellectual curiosity where staff is supported to engage in substantive dialogue internally, with trustees, and externally with grantees and key stakeholders. The Executive Director will provide leadership, professional development opportunities, and coaching to a staff of 16, ensuring that the foundation’s programs are supported by top talent and that all employees share in successes of the foundation. S/he/they will also work closely with key staff members of the family office to ensure a seamless execution of the foundation’s work and coordination with other activities of the trustees.
Build strong and trusted partnerships externally to advance the foundation’s mission and represent the foundation in tandem with or as surrogate for the Trustees.
The new Executive Director will inspire and motivate others to engage in the mission and values of the Raikes Foundation and will identify and build partnerships and opportunities for collaboration that further the foundation’s impact. Working closely with the Communications team, s/he/they will elevate the foundation’s profile and influence through the implementation of a strategic communications and advocacy plan and seek opportunities to share the foundation’s approach and influence the field.
QUALIFICATIONS OF THE IDEAL CANDIDATE
While no one candidate will embody all the qualifications enumerated below, the ideal candidate will possess many of the following professional and personal abilities, attributes, and experiences:
- Vision, expertise, and leadership advancing the field of effective philanthropy, particularly in the development and implementation of practices and tools to keep equity at the center.
- A deep personal and professional commitment to social justice and equity with a sophisticated and nuanced understanding of the issues and challenges facing the populations the foundation serves; a servant leader with an authentic and grounded approach who conveys passion, humility, and a strong values orientation.
- Proven success in an externally facing leadership role, preferably in a nonprofit, philanthropic, or other mission-aligned organization.
- Experience leading a comparably sized staff and skill to collaborate across the foundation and with the family office.
- Ability to build trust quickly and be a thought partner in the development of the trustees’ vision for their philanthropic impact; organizational adeptness to translate that vision into priorities and goals and align resources effectively.
- Deep commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and a sophisticated understanding of the systemic, structural, and historical challenges that impact youth, especially youth of color and LGBTQ youth.
- Sophisticated understanding and experience achieving impact using philanthropic tools to affect change through policy/advocacy, influencing the field, and/or innovative grantmaking.
- Systems-level thinking and demonstrated experience leading advocacy and policy work at both the state and federal level in areas relevant to the foundation; experience building and supporting public and private partnerships to achieve greater impact.
- Proven track record of delivering regular and well-organized information to trustees in order to ensure alignment, strong organizational governance, operational excellence, and strategic focus; experience managing change, leading through growth and transition, and creating a shared vision.
- Exceptional communication skills, including communicating in a compelling, inspirational manner in a variety of settings.
- Experience leading teams with a high degree of emotional intelligence and trust; a leadership style that is driven by active inquiry and learning, an intellectual curiosity that seeks to creatively synthesize ideas and input from multiple sources, and the ability to recognize excellence.
- Proven ability to lead thoughtfully and intentionally, gathering input, acting on feedback, making appropriate yet at times difficult decisions, and demonstrating sound professional judgment; maturity, gravitas, and self-knowledge to know when to step into the spotlight and the humility and team orientation to know when to let others take the lead.
- Team orientation, creativity, entrepreneurial spirit, and sense of humor necessary to create an inclusive and equitable culture where staff are supported to maximize their full potential and share in the joy and passion of mission-driven work.
- Bachelor’s degree required, Master’s preferred in a field related to the foundation’s work.
More information about the Raikes Foundation may be found at: www.raikesfoundation.org .
This search is being conducted with assistance from Katherine Jacobs, Carolyn Ho, Callie Carroll, and Chris Cannon of Nonprofit Professionals Advisory Group (NPAG). Please send nominations and/or applications including cover letter describing your interest and qualifications, your resume, and where you learned of the position to: RF-ED@nonprofitprofessionals.com
The Raikes Foundation’s ability to achieve its mission is enhanced by a diverse team, an inclusive culture and programmatic strategies that apply an equity lens. The foundation seeks candidates who possess the knowledge, skills, and lived experience that contribute to the diversity of our team and share a commitment to equity.
NPAG is a national executive search and consulting firm dedicated to serving the mission-driven community. We partner with global mission-driven clients to deliver highly-tailored, innovative, and strategic senior- and executive-level search services. www.nonprofitprofessionals.com .