Policy and Advocacy
Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people's health and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to ensure that all people-especially those with the fewest resources-have access to the opportunities they need to succeed in school and life. Based in Seattle, the foundation is led by CEO Jeff Raikes and co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.
The foundation's U.S. Program works with a range of partners toward greater opportunity for all Americans largely through the attainment of secondary and postsecondary education. By making college and other forms of education both accessible to and successful for all, we hope to help break the intergenerational cycle of poverty that prevents families and communities from opportunities to reach their full potential. The U.S. Program works to advance:
- College Readiness and Success. Education is the broadest avenue to opportunity and the most influential factor in ensuring that children will grow up to do as well or better than their parents. Today, a postsecondary education is the most important requirement for jobs that pay a family wage. Our goal is to ensure that 80 percent of students will graduate from high school prepared for college, with a focus on low-income and minority students reaching this target, and to double the number of low-income young adults who earn postsecondary degrees or certificates by age 26 each year.
- Strong Communities in the Pacific Northwest. As a family foundation, we are committed to strengthening our communities and providing new avenues of opportunity for those most in need in Washington State, the foundation's home. Our main goal in the state is to help all children begin kindergarten ready to succeed and cut family homelessness in half over the next decade.
The Senior Program Officer, Post-Secondary Policy Development will work with the US Program Advocacy and Policy Team and will lead and execute the foundation's investments in its policy work in this arena. In this capacity, the Senior Program Officer will develop and drive a set of strategies that support the development of postsecondary policies that contribute to dramatic improvement in post-secondary credit accumulation by the end of a student's second semester and ultimately credential completion.
Specifically, the Senior Program Officer (SPO) for Post-Secondary Policy Development will be embedded with the USP Postsecondary Success Team and his/her responsibilities will include the following deliverables and activities:
Develop a Grant Portfolio. Independently, and in consultation with colleagues, develop a grant portfolio to support:
- awareness and adoption of effective practices and model policies in developmental education;
- examples of state policy options to align college ready standards linked to diagnostic assessments and placement policies in post secondary;
- state and federal policy options to facilitate the shift to structured programs of study and encourage breakthrough delivery models;
- state and institutional improvements in the effectiveness of need-based aid to promote completion.
Work collaboratively with other program officers at the foundation on the Advocacy and Policy and Postsecondary Success teams to execute grant portfolio.
Develop actionable milestones and metrics for individual grants and for portfolio in line with dashboards established by the US Program Advocacy and Policy and Postsecondary Success teams and considering the role of research and evaluation in the development of investments.
Review, refine and align an existing portfolio of relationships, grants and approaches to optimize resources and results.
Prospect for potential new grant opportunities, analyzing their feasibility, shaping specific opportunities, presenting recommendations internally, and negotiating grant agreements.
Advise and Support US Leadership in key topics. Write informational briefings and other materials on key issues for the US Program Advocacy and Policy leadership team and foundation leadership, in consultation with US Program Advocacy and Policy and Postsecondary Success Deputy Directors as appropriate.
Provide strategic thought partnership to critical federal, state and multi-state grantees on policy issues related to Postsecondary Success. These grantees may be in the SPO's grant portfolio or may sit elsewhere on the US Program Advocacy and Policy and Postsecondary Success teams and ensure effective relationships with key stakeholders inside and outside the foundation, including the foundation's programmatic teams, business partners, grantees, vendors, and others.
Represent the Foundation to the public: bringing together disparate and influential individuals and groups; mobilizing them to take action on complex and highly visible problems; navigating and negotiating in highly charged situations.
At least 7 years of prior experience operating at the state policy level and, preferably, also at the federal level on higher education issues, policies and financing, including familiarity with institutional practices and state policy regarding K-12 and PS alignment, placement, and institutional and state transfer and articulation policies.
An advanced degree in a relevant discipline or equivalent work experience required.
Extensive project management experience and an ability to effectively prioritize projects, completing in a timely manner with outstanding attention to detail.
Must be able to take rough concepts and develop concrete work plans, listen and understand issues from a number of perspectives so that communications sent out are clearly and thoughtfully articulated.
Exceptional analytical, organizational and communication skills in positions requiring communication with a broad and diverse audience at all levels of the organization.
Must be skilled in group problem solving and working to resolve problems with complex concepts in a dynamic setting.
Must possess strong judgment with a demonstrated ability to handle multiple tasks with competing priorities. Ability to manage confidential information and situations with efficiency, flexibility, diplomacy, while cultivating trust within the team.
Superior writing and presentation skills with extensive use of tools within the Microsoft office suite.
As part of our standard hiring process for new employees, employment with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will be contingent upon successful completion of a comprehensive background check.
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