Program Specialist
Open Society Foundations

The Open Society Foundations seeks a Program Specialist to work as part of its economic advancement team in U.S. Programs. U.S. Programs works to build a vibrant society that invites all people to participate fully in civic, economic, and cultural life.  It supports efforts to advance equality, fairness, and justice with a focus on the most vulnerable and marginalized communities and the most significant threats to open society in the U.S.

Within U.S. Programs, the economic advancement team engages in grantmaking and supports programmatic initiatives to advance economic opportunity for communities of color, recent immigrants, and the poor by augmenting their participation in the economy and advocating for the transformation of the economic system in which that participation takes place.

The Program Specialist will work with the USP economic advancement team, including program officers responsible for grantmaking portfolios. The economic advancement program has three main areas of focus:

  • Reducing the racial wealth gap by increasing access to fair and responsible financial services, and high quality housing for communities of color and immigrants.
  • Sectoral approaches that focus on key areas of the economy that are disproportionately occupied by workers of color and are likely to grow or persist in the future, such as child care.
  • Future economy dynamics, especially focused on the implications for the public sector in retaining a social safety net and adapting regulations as part of defining the government’s appropriate role in an evolving economy.

Job Profile

The Program Specialist is a professional program role at Open Society, performing a wide range of responsibilities that materially advance program strategies.  The role requires specialized knowledge of economic advancement and equity issues how to use the various tools available to OSF for accomplishing its objectives, including bringing about social change.  Responsibilities are carried out with a high degree of independence, although collegial problem-solving is a hallmark of Open Society work.  The contributions of the Program Specialist include the identification of high potential new partners, the assessment of organizations in the field, the design of grants, and the assessment of grants and portfolios. The Program Specialist may also take the lead on projects or issues—such as research initiatives, convenings, or advocacy efforts—as assigned. The Program Specialist role may include any or all of the following and/or similar activities:

  • supporting programmatic efforts by conducting a wide range of activities related to the grant making process and/or analytical work in support of field development, advocacy, regional consultations, and integrative activities
  • conducting research and collecting data/information to be used in decision-making, strategy development, budget planning, and evaluation of the grants portfolio and other program processes
  • designing and carrying out field scans and on-going field monitoring
  • analyzing grant proposals (including budgets), designing grants (types of support, degree of flexibility, duration, payment structure, reporting/learning expectations, etc.) and drafting grant recommendations
  • partnering closely with Program Administrative Specialists to ensure the efficient flow of grants processing and similar information
  • developing the concept, agenda, key players, etc. for convenings, research initiatives, and advocacy efforts and partnering closely with Program Administrative Specialists to ensure effective implementation
  • contributing to assessment of organizations, including primary responsibility for assessment of organizational finances and budgets
  • performing administrative tasks or projects as needed and assigned, including processing grants, developing tools and templates, coordinating event logistics, and processing vendor contracts and consultancy agreements
  • participating in evaluating grant portfolios
  • developing and maintaining a network of relationships with key actors, including advocates, practitioners, academicians, policymakers, funders, civic and business leaders, and the media

Candidate Profile

The successful candidate will have knowledge and experience in economics, fair housing, racial justice, economic advancement, labor policy, or related field. S/he also must have a strong commitment to social justice understanding of the impact of race, ethnicity, and wealth on economic opportunity. The Program Specialist is expected to stay abreast of pertinent developments, policies, reform initiatives and opportunities. The Program Specialist must have demonstrated capacity to translate the Program’s strategic plans into action and to assess impact. The successful candidate will also have the following qualifications:

  • bachelor’s degree (B.A.) from a four-year college or university in a relevant field of study or equivalent experience; graduate degree desirable
  • 3-5 years of progressively responsible experience in a situation relevant to the duties of this role
  • knowledge and experience in economic advancement, housing, worker rights or related field
  • strong commitment to social justice and a nuanced understanding of the impact of race, ethnicity, gender, and social class on policies and programs for economic advancement
  • highly skilled in researching and processing information and analyzing its importance in informing programs and strategies
  • excellent written and spoken communication
  • ability to recognize and work effectively in compliance with internal policies and external constraints
  • willingness and ability to exercise sound professional judgment on issues of sensitivity
  • demonstrated ability to respect others’ opinions, listen well, and respond to colleagues with awareness and sensitivity to cultural communication differences
  • diplomatic, discreet, able to handle confidential matters with a high level of integrity.
  • well-developed emotional intelligence, including self-awareness, self-management, and empathy
  • organized, strong project management ability, self-directed on work initiatives, strong attention to detail, and ability to manage competing priorities and deadlines
  • ability to work constructively and collegially with colleagues at all levels in the hierarchy of the organization as well as with external partners
  • strong commitment to inclusion and respect for all colleagues regardless of identity or seniority
  • strong commitment to open society values of rights, justice, accountable governance, human dignity, and democratic practice
  • collaborative, collegial working style and sense of humor

Application Instructions:  Please upload a cover letter, resume, and a writing sample as one document when submitting an application.

Work Environment and Physical Demands:  Essential functions are typically performed in an office setting with a low level of noise.  Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.  We are strengthened by the diversity of our colleagues across the Open Society Foundations, and we welcome and actively seek applications from people of all cultures, backgrounds, and experiences.

We are strengthened by the diversity of our colleagues across the Open Society Foundations, and we welcome and actively seek applications from people of all cultures, backgrounds, and experiences.

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