Program Officer -- Education (KF)


Program Officer – Education

The Kresge Foundation’s Education Program has an immediate opening for a Program Officer.


About the Foundation

The Kresge Foundation is one of the top 20 private foundations in the United States and is metro Detroit's largest foundation. With a $3.6 billion endowment and a staff of nearly 100 employees, we work to expand opportunities in America's cities for people with low incomes. We do this through grantmaking and social investing nationally in arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services and community development in Detroit. The foundation’s state-of-the-art headquarters maintains an array of energy-efficient, water-conserving and health-promoting systems. The foundation also operates an office in Detroit’s Midtown district.


About the Education Program

Kresge’s Education Team supports both college access and success, through collaborative, practical, and flexible investments that emphasize investee relationships. The team has three main strategies:

  • Urban Pathways to College, which focuses on postsecondary access for traditionally aged students from under-represented groups, and adults returning to postsecondary education.
  • Capacity Building for Student Success, which supports institutions focused on low-income and under-represented students, such as community colleges, Minority Serving Institutions, public institutions and special mission institutions, to enhance student success through better advising, improved data analytics, enhanced business models, more clear transfer pathways, and stronger leadership, et al.
  • Urban Higher Education Ecosystems, which seeks to strengthen an entire city or metropolitan area’s ability to increase cross-sectoral and systemic approaches to increasing college attainment for its community.   

The team works across the nation, but has four focus states (California, Florida, Texas and Michigan) and oversees Kresge’s only international work in South Africa. The team also works in the Foundation’s focus cities of Detroit, Memphis and New Orleans.

This is an exciting time for postsecondary philanthropy. A large group of regional and national foundations have worked collaboratively with nonprofit and governmental partners to increase postsecondary access and success. Over the past several years, college enrollment and attainment rates have increased steadily and a number of successful innovations have emerged. At the same time, race-based and other equity gaps remain persistent and many promising reforms and innovations have yet to scale significantly.

About The Position

The Program Officer for Education will assist in the design and implementation of a grantmaking program that seeks to increase postsecondary attainment in cities while eliminating gaps for low-income students and students of color, especially African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, and other under-represented groups.  

The team seeks Program Officer candidates with a strong experience and a demonstrated commitment to low-income people, social justice and the eradication of race-based and other equity gaps. Our grantmaking areas have included:

  • Advising
  • City-based efforts to improve local college access and success
  • Community Colleges
  • College Access programs
  • Data analytics
  • Developmental education
  • Higher education technology
  • Institutional advancement
  • Minority Serving Institutions
  • Non-academic barriers to student success
  • Public higher education
  • South African higher education policy
  • State higher education systems
  • Transfer and articulation
  • U.S. federal, state and local higher education policy

The individual filling this position will report to the managing director and work in close partnership with other members of the Education Team, as well as with the foundation’s Program Operations and Information Management Team, Communications Team and Social Investment Practice, a team that uses loans, loan guarantees and deposits in support of Kresge program goals.  

The position is based in metropolitan Detroit.


Primary Responsibilities

  • With the Education Program managing director and team, contribute to grantmaking strategy development for the program. Contribute to the team’s program development.
  • Participate in funder and cross-sector collaboratives to achieve program objectives.
  • Contribute 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, have individual and collective responsibility for reaching annual investment and grant targets.
  • Obtain, maintain, and share a high level of knowledge of the most effective strategies and current thinking in the field: What works? What are the most effective and /or innovative ways to support the work? What are effective strategies to implement with partners?
  • Participate in national networks, affinity groups, and other external efforts to advance the program’s strategies and the team’s standing within the higher education field.
  • Interact with other Education grant makers, nonprofit leaders, and public and private sector stakeholders active in postsecondary education to assess developments in the field and strategic points for philanthropic engagement.
  • Work with other Kresge program teams on mutually planned and developed collaborative efforts and represent the team on internal foundation working groups and committees.
  • Prepare, individually and with other team members, strategy papers and other written materials for the foundation’s management and Board of Trustees.
  • Develop grant outcomes and evaluation criteria for one’s own grants; review reports and interpret results; reach annual grants target; and identify potential grant opportunities through letters of inquiry and grant proposals.
  • With the Social Investment Practice, evaluate the feasibility of alternative forms of capital support for organizations aligned with the program strategy and contribute to the program’s embrace of social investment tools.
  • Within the team calendar, conduct site visits and partake of professional development opportunities.
  • Demonstrate effective problem solving, decision-making and timely delivery on work products and deadlines.
  • Perform other duties as assigned.


  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience in relevant or related fields is required. MA or PhD in relevant field is strongly preferred.
  • Minimum of five years of experience and demonstrated leadership in relevant postsecondary education or related fields.
  • Experience in higher education reform, including any related background in urban planning or community development.
  • Strong commitment to the foundation’s vision, values, and equity goals with the ability to demonstrate that commitment in daily interactions.
  • Previous grantmaking or lending experience is preferred, but not required.
  • Excellent analytical and writing skills.
  • Experience in the development, implementation and evaluation of strategies to effect change.
  • 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.
  • Effective time-management and problem-solving skills, with demonstrated ability to manage a diverse and demanding workload on deadline.
  • Experience in project development and management, budgets and work plans, and negotiation of contracts.
  • Strong communications skills and interpersonal skills, including the ability to speak publicly and work effectively as a member of a team.
  • Experience working collaboratively across the nonprofit, private and public sectors.
  • Ability to undertake extensive (~30%) national and, on occasion, international (typically, South Africa), travel.


To apply, please send your resume and cover letter to [email protected]. The deadline for application submission is September 5, 2018.  

Kresge is proud to be an Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer. We do not discriminate based upon race, religion, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, status as a protected veteran, status as an individual with a disability or other applicable legally protected characteristics.

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  • Tamir Novotny
    published this page in Job Board 2018-08-17 10:00:31 -0400