Program Officer (SFF)

Program Officer; Reports to Director of Strategic Grantmaking, Headquarters in Cupertino, CA; regular travel required up to 40%; possible work remote

About Us:

The Sobrato Family is committed to building a strong and vibrant Silicon Valley community through business and philanthropic leadership. The Sobrato Family Foundation operates primarily as a place-based grantmaker that invests in organizations serving the residents most in need in Santa Clara, San Mateo and Southern Alameda counties. The Foundation utilizes both real estate and cash to achieve a positive local impact, by providing in-kind office and meeting space at its three nonprofit centers in Redwood Shores, San Jose and Milpitas; awarding multi-year grants for general operating support to a wide-range of Silicon Valley nonprofits; and implementing two place-based strategic grantmaking approaches focused on expanding opportunities for low-income beneficiaries: the 21st Century Education and the Pathways for Success programs.

In addition, the Foundation operates the Sobrato Early Academic Language (SEAL) model, to accelerate the success of English Learner students in preschool and elementary school. The model was developed in 2007-2008, piloted in three schools in 2008-2013, and has been rapidly replicating since 2013 – with 89 active schools in 2016-2017 that are located in Silicon Valley, other parts of the Bay Area, the Sacramento region, the Central Valley, and in Southern California. As a complement to SEAL’s expansion, the Foundation is beginning to pursue opportunities for statewide advocacy around the needs of English Learner students, and for advancing research-based education policy that will better support this critical, rapidly growing population of children in California. The Foundation now seeks a new colleague to focus on this potential impact - and is open to considering locating the position in Silicon Valley, or elsewhere in California, with an expectation of statewide activities.


The Program Officer (PO) will serve as a member of the grantmaking team, reporting to the Director of Strategic Grantmaking (DSG). Working closely with the DSG, the PO will conduct grantmaking and help steer long-term strategies and partnerships to achieve the Foundation’s goals for improved state and local English Learner policies. The Foundation maintains a lean grantmaking team, and the PO will operate within a set of close collegial relationships where all team members also contribute to the strategy and/or execution of the local funding programs focused on education, economic mobility, and community development in Silicon Valley.

The successful candidate will have demonstrated a positive track record in philanthropy/social investing as a program officer or through a related position - and ideally, will bring deep knowledge of and prior experience with advocacy and policy strategies. The PO will be a strategic thinker and flexible collaborator with an entrepreneurial mindset, who enjoys applying creative tactics. She or he must have excellent listening skills, and can communicate in written and spoken messages that are succinct and compelling.

The position is located in the Foundation's headquarters in Cupertino, CA, and there is required travel of up to 40%.  There is a possibility of working partially remotely based upon business circumstances.

Key Responsibilities:


  • Staying abreast of current research, policy, activities, and trends related to SFF’s grantmaking programs, particularly in regards to models, practices and accountability for English Learner students.
  • Developing annual program goals, corresponding activities, potential indicators of success, and budget considerations as part of the Foundation’s annual planning and budgeting cycle.
  • Participating in regular team meetings to coordinate work, report on progress, flag challenges, and offer insight and expertise with grantmaking department colleagues - as well as across teams with colleagues that handle grants administration, evaluation/learning, and capacity building activities.
  • Providing updates and briefings to the Board of Directors, as directed by and in coordination with the DSG and the CEO.
  • Building collaborative, positive working relationships and effective communication channels with all staff.
  • Representing the Foundation effectively by remaining knowledgeable of the main goals and activities of the organization’s programs that fall outside the grantmaking areas.


  • Deepening the impact of the grantmaking programs:

-        Help shape the early direction and milestones for SFF’s English Learner policy and advocacy work;

-      Contribute to the 21st Century Education program’s long-term strategy, based on the theory of change;

-        Support the gradual expansion of the Pathways for Success platform, based on the theory of change.

  • Identifying potential grantees and projects, analyzing and evaluating grant proposals, and preparing and presenting recommended proposals for funding under the strategic grantmaking programs.
  • Supporting the cycle-based review and completion procedures of grants under the general operating support program, including application screening and due diligence, site visits, previous grant reviews, etc.
  • Leading regular meetings and phone calls with grantees and partners; monitoring and assessing grantee performance against established grant terms and agreements.
  • Responding to problem-solving situations, providing technical assistance as appropriate, and maintaining an open, ongoing relationship with grantees.
  • Identifying possible evaluation/learning, capacity-building, and communication priorities and activities from the grantmaking programs for consideration by and shared planning with other relevant colleagues.

Networks and Convening

  • Building networks with nonprofit, government and philanthropic leaders to align targets and coordinate efforts.
  • Establishing clear purposes and outcomes for convening grantees, and lead the planning of well-designed meetings and events that serve to benefit grantees, the Foundation, and the field at large.
  • Representing the Foundation to various constituencies, including participation in joint efforts or collaboratives, outside meetings, and conferences.

 Qualifications and Abilities:

  • Minimum Bachelors degree required; Master’s degree preferred.
  • Minimum 7 years of related experience.
  • A background in philanthropy and/or nonprofits reflecting a capacity to develop and expand innovative programs on-the-ground and via indirect approaches as such as policy, knowledge dissemination, etc.
  • Impeccable judgment, and an ability to invest grant funds strategically with a high degree of accountability.
  • Work well independently and within a team, demonstrating a high degree of flexibility, and collaboration.
  • Ability to be proactive and constantly reset priorities responsibilities in a fast moving and rapidly changing environment.
  • An engaging personal presence and the communication skills necessary to interact with diverse audiences.
  • Hold the highest expectations for personal and organizational standards and achievement.
  • Strong sense of self-confidence, self-awareness, and a sense of humor.
  • Excellent computer skills, including Microsoft Word and Excel; fluent use of tools and platforms that facilitate engagement and productivity when traveling, or from a remote location.

Additional Information:

  • Salary commensurate with experience
  • Highly competitive benefits package
  • Full-time, exempt position

Equal Employment Opportunity 

The Foundation is an equal opportunity employer, welcomes a diverse pool of applicants, and makes employment decisions on the basis of merit. Foundation policy prohibits unlawful discrimination based on race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, pregnancy, national origin, ancestry, citizenship, age, marital status, physical disability, mental disability, military service, legally protected medical condition, or any other consideration made unlawful by federal, state, or local laws.

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