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Program Officer, Great Learning, William Penn Foundation

  • October 11, 2019
  • Philadelphia, PA

Image result for william penn foundationThe William Penn Foundation is a leading American philanthropy located in Philadelphia. With over $2 billion in assets and a $100+ million annual grant budget, the Foundation is a vital part of the civic life in one of the country’s most important and historically significant regions.  The Foundation has charted a vision consistent with its enduring focus on education, the environment and the cultural vitality of Greater Philadelphia.

The Foundation’s three core priorities are to:

  • Increase the number of children from low-income families in Philadelphia receiving a high-quality education.
  • Ensure clean water by protecting the Delaware River watershed.
  • Foster a vital and diverse cultural region by investing in the health and sustainability of arts and cultural organizations and in great public spaces.

Our team is inspired by the projects and organizations we support through our grants.  We seek candidates who are equally passionate about Philadelphia, share our sense of urgency, and believe improvement happens through collaboration, critical thinking, and hard work.

Job Summary

As a member of the Great Learning team, the Program Officer’s primary responsibility will be to lead grantmaking focused on instructional improvement to increase the number of children in Philadelphia reading on grade level by the end of third grade.  This will include managing an active grant portfolio of $10-15 million supporting training and professional development; identifying and developing new opportunities to strengthen early literacy instruction across the city; monitoring implementation and evaluating impacts of Foundation-supported efforts; and identifying emerging trends and planning for future grantmaking.

In addition to the focus on support for early literacy instruction, the Program Officer will have responsibility for the Foundation’s work that is focused on increasing the high school graduation rate in Philadelphia. Because this is a secondary area of focus for the Foundation, the Program Officer will be responsible for identifying opportunities to collaborate with other funders to advance this goal, allowing the Foundation to contribute to citywide momentum toward this important outcome.

The Program Officer may also play a supporting role in other grantmaking related to early learning for children in Philadelphia.

The Program Officer will have substantial responsibilities to contribute to the overall success of the team and program area.  The Program Officer will be expected to serve as a resource for colleagues across the Foundation on early literacy development, high quality instruction, and the structures and systems that lead to widespread instructional improvement and student achievement. The Program Officer will work with colleagues to identify and understand trends, issues, challenges, risks, and opportunities for the Foundation, and will lead other internal and external planning, evaluation, and/or communications projects. 

Reports To

Program Director, Great Learning



  • Develop specific grants and initiatives to ensure that students are receiving effective early literacy instruction.
  • Identify evidence and dissemination needs that support instructional improvement.
  • Build relationships with leaders and funders of instructional improvement around the region and the nation.
  • Provide expertise to team staff on effective strategies to support adult learning and professional development.
  • Identify opportunities, within Foundation priorities, to support continued momentum on increasing high school graduation rates.
  • Facilitate project planning, coordination, reporting, monitoring, and communication among grantees to ensure successful completion of the work.
  • Synthesize and summarize complex information for review by Foundation leadership.
  • Maintain and build content expertise by staying abreast of current research and data at the national and local levels, and by participating in related convenings and conferences.
  • Participate in education program team meetings, planning, and goal setting.
  • Create annual and multi-year plans to support progress toward the Foundation’s objectives; identify and track gaps and needed adjustments.
  • Prepare written materials for internal and external audiences that summarize active and potential grants and effectively communicate the Foundation’s objectives.
  • Communicate regularly with grantees, project partners, and potential funders of aligned efforts.
  • Represent the Foundation in diverse communities, including speaking engagements, and participate in key internal and external meetings.

Responsibilities may also include:

  • Planning and implementation of internal projects that strengthen operations across the Foundation. This may include program planning and grant portfolio reviews, development of organizational infrastructure, or data collection and analysis.
  • Strategic communication with internal and external stakeholders, including preparing materials and learning opportunities for the Foundation’s Board of Directors, the broader Philadelphia community, and philanthropic colleagues.
  • Other responsibilities as assigned.


Expected Competencies

  • Strategic Thinking: Ability to see risks and opportunities and design innovative approaches backed by strong analysis, planning, and problem solving. 
  • Outcomes-Focus: Results-driven approach, supported by a focus on quality and strong project management skills, deadline management, sense of responsibility and accountability and the ability to effectively multi-task. Comfort with clear outcome expectations and accountability.  Strong work ethic.
  • Attention to detail and timelinesExcellent organizational skills with attention to detail, ability to manage time effectively with multiple projects on different time frames, and excellent ability to collaborate with colleagues to complete tasks.
  • Partnership and Relationship Building: Strong professional representation, interpersonal relationship abilities, intercultural knowledge and appreciation, strategic partnership building. Operates with poise, humility, diplomacy, and tact.
  • Communications and Management: Strong interpersonal and communication abilities; exceptional writing, oral, and listening skills; skills in team building, coaching, mentoring, delegating, inspiring and motivating internally and externally.
  • Openness and Curiosity:  An awareness that excellent ideas come from many sources.



  • A minimum of 10 years of relevant work experience
  • Experience with and knowledge of effective instructional improvement strategies in elementary grades, including knowledge of relevant research and contextual issues
  • Expertise in early language and literacy development and instruction
  • Direct experience supporting teachers, schools, and systems with improvement efforts
  • Familiarity with facilitators of, and obstacles to, high school graduation
  • Demonstrated commitment to improving public education
  • Experience setting priorities in dynamic environments
  • Experience developing, managing, and implementing multi-party projects with defined objectives, deliverables, monitoring, and evaluation of results
  • Experience developing strategy
  • Experience with evaluative research methods preferred
  • Proficiency with MS Office including PowerPoint and other presentation skills


Advanced degree in education or related field preferred.  Bachelor’s degree required.


Physical Demands/Work Environment

The William Penn Foundation values diversity, inclusion, and equity as matters of fairness and effectiveness. We are committed to hiring and retaining a staff that reflects the diversity of the communities we serve, fostering an inclusive working environment where staff of all backgrounds feel welcomed and engaged in the Foundation’s mission, and to promoting racial equity in our work.

The physical demands and work environment characteristics described are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to bend, sit, talk, lift, or hear. The employee is regularly required to use hands and arms to operate general office equipment (personal computer, telephone, file cabinet, copier, printer). The employee may occasionally lift and/or move up to ten pounds. The noise level in the work environment is usually low to moderate.

How to Apply

The William Penn Foundation is an Equal Opportunity Employer and encourages applications from individuals underrepresented in the philanthropic sector, including people of color, and persons with non-traditional work and educational experience. All who believe they meet the stated qualifications are invited to apply. Applications may be submitted to wpfjobs@williampennfoundation.org

William Penn Foundation


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