Program Associate, Science (HSF)

The Heising-Simons Foundation is a family foundation based in Los Altos, California. The Foundation works with its many partners to advance sustainable solutions in climate and clean energy, enable groundbreaking research in science, enhance the education of our youngest learners, and support human rights for all people.

Mark Heising and Liz Simons each grew up with a tradition of giving, learning about the importance of the communities that surrounded them, and of the value of philanthropy. They met at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1979.  Liz earned her masters in education from Stanford University, became a Spanish-bilingual teacher, and founded Stretch to Kindergarten, a spring-summer early childhood education program. Mark earned his master’s in electrical engineering and computer sciences from the University of California, Berkeley, became a chip design engineer, and went on to hold six U.S. patents. In 2007, they established the Foundation, and were later joined on the board by their daughter, Caitlin Heising, who graduated from Brown University and works with a nonprofit human rights and strategic philanthropy consultancy.

The Foundation’s board and staff feel incredibly fortunate to work with, and support, great leaders and organizations in vital endeavors.

In 2016, the Foundation awarded more than $54.8 million. Since its first grant in 2007, the Foundation has awarded more than $233 million.

Position Summary

The Program Associate (PA) provides administrative and program-related support to the Foundation’s Science team. As assigned by the Program Director (PD) of Science, the PA may be involved in the initial screening of potential grantees, arranging and attending meetings with potential and actual grantees, preparing docket and board materials, and monitoring ongoing grants.

The PA works closely with the Grants Manager to ensure that grantmaking under the Science program adheres to Foundation policies, procedures, and deadlines.

The PA will support the Foundation’s Science Program Officers (POs) and PD. This full-time, nonexempt position reports to the PD of Science and is located in our Los Altos, CA office.

Primary Responsibilities

  • Provide primary clerical and administrative support to the Science PD and POs, including managing meeting requests, travel and other logistical arrangements, logistical details for internal and external meetings, keeping contacts databases updated, formatting presentations and other electronic documents, maintaining the Science team’s grant files, and draft or edit correspondence and reports.
  • Provide grants administration support for the maintenance of all active grants in the Science portfolio, including regular communications with grantees, report receipt and follow-up on overdue reports, authorizations for no-cost extensions or changes in the grant budget and report or payment schedules, ensuring grant files are complete and updated as needed, entry of all related information and attachment of documents such as reports and closing summaries in the grants management database, and responding to all requests, deadlines, and any special assignments from the Grants Manager or the Science PD.
  • Ensure the timely receipt and internal distribution of concept papers and proposal submissions.
  • In coordination with the PD and POs, prepare a series of written products for Science grants in advance of deadlines for grants and docket preparation, including grants-level summaries, budgets, and/or overview memos and program-level narratives, budgets, memos, surveys, and/or presentations and compile all grant materials in accordance with grantmaking policies and procedures and within deadlines set forth by the POs and the Grants Manager.
  • Participate in meetings and training sessions organized by Grants Management, Human Resources, and/or Finance.
  • Assume a lead role and serve as first point of contact in compiling, reviewing, and responding to unsolicited grant requests: requests additional information from organizations, if necessary to complete a review; and communicates declinations and the rationale of the declination to the grantseekers orally and/or in writing.
  • Maintain a thorough knowledge of the priorities and grantee selection criteria for the Science program and a working knowledge of the priorities of the Foundation’s other program areas. Respond to telephone or email requests for program area information from potential grantees.
  • Conduct research and maintain an internal database on potential grantees and partner institutions, including intermediary organizations. Assist colleagues in gathering background information, history, and organizational data on prospective grantees to inform the review process and ensure the eligibility of prospective grantees in the early phase of consideration.
  • At the request of or in consultation with the PD and POs, arrange and attend meetings of grantees in the Foundation’s office or in the field on site visits. Manage the logistical arrangements, coordination, and follow-up activities related to meetings on- or off-site, as needed. For on-site meetings, work collaboratively with the Office Services Coordinator to plan and carry out events.
  • Prepare consultant contracts and assist in coordinating activity of the consultants with internal colleagues or grantees, as needed. Prepare required documents for the establishment and approval of individual consulting contracts. Assist with monitoring expenditures related to the approved budgets, ensure reimbursement of authorized expenses, maintain supporting documentation of related contracts, and work with the Finance department on year-end budget reconciliation.
  • Conduct research and data analysis, and prepare reports as assigned by the PD and POs. Remain abreast of current research, activities, and trends in philanthropy by reviewing professional publications, and attending related conferences, meetings, and other events.


  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent education and experience.
  • 2+ years of related work experience; experience with philanthropy, nonprofit organizations, and/or in one of the Foundation’s areas of interest, particularly physical science, is a plus.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • Computer proficiency in all Microsoft Office applications; experience with grants management or other databases is a plus.
  • Able to plan and prioritize workflow and meet deadlines.
  • Able to work independently and reliably, take initiative, and be solution-oriented.
  • Excellent attention to detail, accuracy, and follow-through.
  • Flexibility and willingness to assist others, as needed.
  • Able to explain the Foundation’s history, values, and current funding initiatives and accurately articulate the goals and objectives of our Science program.
  • A sense of teamwork, community, humor, and integrity.

Equal Employment Opportunity

The Foundation is an equal opportunity employer. We welcome a diverse pool of applicants and make employment decisions based on merit. Foundation policy prohibits the unlawful discrimination based on race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, pregnancy, national origin, ancestry, citizenship, age, marital or caregiver status, physical disability, mental disability, military service, legally protected medical condition, prior record of arrest or conviction, 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, any special needs at the time of application.


The Foundation offers an excellent benefits package and salaries that are commensurate with education and experience.

To Apply

Please apply here:

Applications will be considered until the position is filled.

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