Program Officer, Education (RMF)

Position Title: Program Officer, Education
Department: Education 
Position Reports To: Cornelia Grumman, Director of Education
Location: Robert R. McCormick Foundation, Chicago, IL

About the Robert R. McCormick Foundation

The Robert R. McCormick Foundation is dedicated to fostering communities of educated, informed, and engaged citizens. Through philanthropic grant-making and Cantigny Park, the Foundation works to make life better in Chicagoland. The McCormick Foundation, among the nation's largest foundations with more than $1.5 billion in assets, was established in 1955 upon the death of Col. Robert R. McCormick, the longtime editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune. The Foundation awards about $55 million a year across five grantmaking program areas.

About the Education Program

The Foundation has a decades-long commitment to supporting the education and healthy development of young children in Illinois, ages birth to eight, through investments in early education. A good portion of our nearly $6 million annual investment goes toward leveraging systemic change in the state’s early education system to improve the effectiveness and quality of care children receive. Ultimately, our aim is to help move the state toward ensuring that all Illinois children – particularly those most in need of extra support – arrive at kindergarten ready to thrive, and enter 3rd grade on track in literacy and math.

The Education Program focuses its strategy on systemic ways of cultivating outstanding leaders, teachers and care providers, and to support parents to fully optimize their young child’s learning and development at home. The Program also aims to support its grantees to fully realize the impact of their work, and use our own voice to raise awareness and public understanding of these efforts and critical issues in early education.


The program is looking for someone passionate about early childhood, and committed to ensuring more equitable outcomes of groups historically disadvantaged and most at risk of longer-term school failure. The ideal candidate will be a solutions-oriented project manager who can balance competing priorities, engage effectively with internal and external partners, think strategically, and apply philanthropic principles. The Education Program Officer will be a thought partner to the Program Director; stay abreast of policy developments, news, and recent research findings in the sector; and ensure forward momentum with grant proposals as well as the various initiatives in which the Program either leads or participates. This is a promising career opportunity for someone who loves project management and wants to sharpen his or her skills as a future education policy expert.


  • Support the Program Director in implementing the Education program strategy by project managing the operational and process aspects of the portfolio:
    • Help manage and plan the program grant budget and maintain budgetary projections.
    • Work closely with the Program Director to solicit and review proposals and letters of inquiry, prepare decline letters, and communicate clearly and responsively to prospective grantees, existing grantees and other organizations that do not receive support from the McCormick Foundation.
    • Analyze grantee organizations’ legal status, financial data and audits, program goals, and engage in other due diligence reviews. Recommend appropriate action to the Program Director as circumstances dictate.
    • Generate concise, coherent, well-organized and well-written proposals to be incorporated into McCormick board presentations.
    • Help conceive of and coordinate meetings, convenings and site visits.
    • Oversee a portion of the grant portfolio, including evaluating, reviewing and identifying grant opportunities that align with the program’s strategic and philanthropic objectives.
  • Stay current on issues and trends around early education and develop expertise as well as an understanding of broader policy contexts within early education and the strategy areas to help support strong philanthropic decision-making.
  • Work closely with the Program Director to develop and deepen expertise in the education program strategy of Leaders, Teachers, Families and Influence.
  • Be able to work effectively even amid occasional ambiguity or imperfect information.
  • Promote collaboration and connections among grantee partners and share knowledge, all to advance the Foundation’s and grantees’ goals.
  • Contribute to efforts to showcase through strategic communications and compelling storytelling grantees’ work and innovative practices occurring in the field nationwide.


  • Minimum three to five years of experience and at least moderate expertise in early education and K-12 issues
  • Bachelor’s degree required, master’s degree preferred
  • Outstanding organization and collaboration skills
  • Outstanding project management skills
  • Adaptability and flexibility
  • Outstanding written and oral communication skills
  • Strong presentation skills
  • Must be able to work effectively in a fast-paced, impact-oriented, collaborative environment
  • Ability to think strategically
  • Openness to continuous learning, including an ability to reflect on and learn from constructive feedback
  • All offers are contingent upon successful completion of a criminal background check and drug screening

To apply: submit a resume and cover letter to [email protected]

Cantigny Park and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation provide equal employment opportunity (EEO) to all persons regardless of age, color, national origin, citizenship status, individuals with disabilities, race, religion, creed, gender, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, genetic information, marital and housing status.

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  • Biz Ghormley
    published this page in Job Board 2018-06-18 12:19:07 -0400