Position Announcement: Program Officer

Posted: October 9, 2018

Polk Bros. Foundation is a private independent foundation dedicated to building and strengthening Chicago's families and communities, especially those most affected by poverty. The Foundation focuses its work at the intersection of Chicago's most pressing issues to address the complex roots and devastating effects of poverty, challenge inequity, and ensure that all Chicagoans have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

The Foundation actively partners with local nonprofit organizations, other foundations, corporations and government agencies, working to reduce the impact of poverty and provide area residents with better access to quality education and vibrant arts organizations, preventive health care and basic human services.

In 2019, the Foundation will celebrate 30 years of partnership with the organizations that are working hard to make a difference in the lives of Chicagoans. Since its founding in 1988, the Foundation has partnered with more than 3,000 Chicago nonprofits to build strong communities and families, increase access to quality education and the arts, improve health, and strengthen organizations and the sectors in which they work. Polk Bros. Foundation is one of the largest funders of Chicago nonprofits, granting more than $25 million to nearly 400 nonprofit partners every year, and managing assets greater than $400 million.

The Position

The Foundation’s grantmaking team operates primarily as generalists, reviewing organizations in several of the Foundation’s program areas. The Foundation is currently seeking to fill a Program Officer position to review organizations across all of its program areas, with a heavier emphasis within (but not limited to) its Strong Communities grantmaking.

The Foundation’s Strong Communities grants support the creation and preservation of affordable housing, homelessness prevention and intervention, workforce and community economic development, community safety and legal services. The Program Officer will also review proposals in the Foundation’s Strong Families, Education, Arts Access and Learning, Health and Enhanced Capacity program areas, as needed.

Responsibilities: The Program Officer will conduct proposal analyses and site visits and in consultation with senior staff make grant recommendations to the Board of Directors at six board meetings throughout the year. The Program Officer will also provide feedback and input to help senior staff shape and assess the Foundation’s strategies, theories of change and impact. The Program Officer will work under the direction of the Vice President of Programs.

Important Skills and Qualifications: The Program Officer will possess leadership and interpersonal skills and will embrace the Foundation’s culture of accessibility, transparency and fairness and demonstrate an open, caring attitude in working with others, as well as a high level of written and oral communication skills. The Program Officer should demonstrate a track record of collaborating with stakeholder community members with integrity, forthrightness and genuineness.

The successful candidate will be able to think strategically and creatively and work with service providers and foundation colleagues to strengthen ongoing grantmaking programs and identify new opportunities for support. The Program Officer will be self-directed and interested in the service orientation of the Foundation’s work.

Education / Experience

  • M.A. degree preferred and a minimum of five to seven years of relevant experience.
  • A deep appreciation and passion for Chicago and its residents, and a commitment to the Foundation’s mission.
  • Strong knowledge of the Chicago nonprofit community, as well as an understanding of nonprofit organizational development.
  • Field experience in programmatic areas relevant to the grantmaking of Polk Bros. Foundation. Versatility and a breadth of experience across social service areas is preferred.
  • Exceptional management skills, deadline management, sense of responsibility and accountability.
  • An understanding of the operation and role of foundations is helpful; prior grantmaking experience is not required.

Analytical Skills

  • Superior analytic and writing skills, including the ability to assess and synthesize complex information into a clear, concise summary.
  • Demonstrated investigative bent and informed judgment about program development and management; the ability, through questioning, informal research and prior experience, to understand the feasibility and potential impact of proposals.
  • Ability to monitor and analyze impact, trends and research and translate into evidence-based strategic recommendations.
  • Knowledge of financial statements is helpful but not required.

Collaboration and Communication Skills

  • Demonstrated ability to work as part of a team to develop, implement, evaluate and inform long-term, client-centered projects and initiatives.
  • Ability to work comfortably and develop relationships with people who hold diverse perspectives.
  • Capacity to work amicably in small office with high volume of work.
  • Commitment to the Foundation’s tradition of continuous improvement.

Compensation/Benefits: The Foundation offers competitive compensation, commensurate with experience, and an excellent benefits package. Polk Bros. Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and seeks to maintain the diversity of its staff.

Application Process: Polk Bros Foundation has hired Sheila Leahy with SAL Consulting, Inc. to manage the search. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis and interested parties are encouraged to apply early.

Please submit applications to Polksearch@gmail.com with only YOUR NAME in the subject line. If you do not receive a confirmation of receipt within 24 hours of submitting your application, please contact SAL Consulting, Inc. at salcon@salcon.cnc.net.

Applications must include these three components:

  1. A resume
  2. A cover letter that speaks to how your experience meets the needs outlined above
  3. A two-page writing sample.