Position Announcement: Program Officer

Posted: June 28, 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. 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.

Polk Bros. Foundation was established by members of the Polk family who owned and operated the Polk Bros chain of retail stores. 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, especially those most affected by poverty.

The Position

The Foundation’s grant-making team operates as generalists, reviewing organizations in several of the Foundation’s program areas, while also maintaining a specialty in particular area(s). The Foundation is currently seeking to fill a Program Officer position with a specialty in health and human services, particularly focused on public health and youth/families.

The majority of the Foundation’s grants to health programs provide comprehensive health education and services in schools and in community settings to reduce health disparities, address barriers that keep students from learning, and enable residents to make informed decisions about appropriate care, reduce high-risk behaviors, and improve health outcomes.

The Foundation’s grants in youth/family support typically fund programs that promote healthy family relationships and youth development and offer equitable access to supportive services that improve learning, increase self-sufficiency and resilience, and reduce violence.

Responsibilities: The Program Officer is responsible for conducting proposal analyses and making grant recommendations to the Board of Directors at six meetings throughout the year. The Program Officer also collaborates with program staff to 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 grant-making 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 relevant programmatic areas of health, youth development and/or family services.
  • Exceptional management skills, deadline management, sense of responsibility and accountability.
  • An understanding of the operation and role of foundations is helpful; prior grant-making 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 both:

  1. A resume, and
  2. A cover letter that speaks to how your experience meets the needs outlined