Education Program Officer

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (Hewlett Foundation) seeks a collaborative, creative, data-driven, and outcomes-oriented leader to serve as a Program Officer in its Education Program. As a key member of the foundation’s Education team, the new Program Officer will devise and oversee a grant-making strategy within the Deeper Learning portfolio; will partner effectively and build strong relationships with grantees; and will constructively track the progress of grantees and grantmaking strategies, in service of ongoing learning and adaption, and will provide substantive feedback to the grantee community. The Program Officer will also be deeply engaged in national conversations regarding educational equity and improvement, and will prioritize the sharing of best practices related to impact, sustainability, and scalability with the field writ large.

Reporting to the Education Program’s new director, Kent McGuire, the Program Officer will work closely with a dedicated and dynamic team of colleagues to advance the portfolio’s overarching goal of improving public education in the U.S. by ensuring today’s students develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in college, career, and civic life. Building on the strong track record of the Education Program’s work supporting high-quality, high-performing organizations and seeding new organizations that bring a fresh approach to the field – and as the Education Program begins its planning process for the coming years under Kent’s leadership – the Program Officer will have the unique opportunity to help drive and shape the Education Program’s strategy for the future and to participate in early direction- and agenda-setting conversations about the Program’s priorities.

The successful candidate will provide innovative thought leadership, and will bring a strong desire to improve the impact of grantmaking through varied quantitative and qualitative means. She or he will also bring a keen understanding of education systems and best practices for their improvement, exceptional skills in working and communicating effectively with others, and a deep commitment to addressing issues of equity and diversity in education today.

The executive search firm Isaacson, Miller is assisting the Hewlett Foundation with this important search. All inquiries, nominations, and applications should be directed in confidence to the search consultants as indicated at the end of this posting.

Role of the Program Officer

Reporting to the Education Program Director, and working in partnership with four other Program Officers, the new Program Officer will design, implement, monitor, and evaluate a portfolio of grants addressing issues related to educational improvement, equity in public education, and increasing students’ achievement of Deeper Learning outcomes.

The successful candidate will bring content expertise, intellectual curiosity, cultural sensitivity, and both breadth and depth of knowledge in the program area in order to be an effective team member and to provide thought leadership in the field. The Program Officer will participate fully in Hewlett Foundation life, including sharing best practices with colleagues and initiating and engaging in foundation-wide activities. Specifically, the Program Officer will work to address the following challenges and opportunities in the role:


The Program Officer will establish and maintain effective relationships with current and prospective grantees, and bring the gravitas and expertise needed to communicate and promote the value of Deeper Learning initiatives to a diversity of stakeholders. As a trusted partner, the Program Officer will manage active grants, assesses their progress, respond to financial and programmatic reports, and ensure that sound financial controls are in place for each grant and that funds are spent wisely and according to grant agreements. The Program Officer will also work to oversee and develop effective and responsive guidelines for measuring the success of programs and grants. Specifically and in consultation with the Program Director, the Program Officer will commission and manage relevant third-party evaluation of the grantmaking strategy to test key assumptions about the strategy’s approach, to incorporate lessons into future decision-making, and to share key findings within the foundation, with grantee partners, and with the broader public.

As a key representative of the foundation, the Program Officer will organize and coordinate foundation-sponsored meetings of grantees and key field experts, and also represent the foundation externally at appropriate meetings, conferences, and site visits.

Planning and Strategy

In partnership with the Education Program Director, the Program Officer will implement a strategy that is aspirational and continually tested against carefully articulated outcomes, defined goals, and clear programmatic objectives. The Program Officer will work closely with grantees to develop and modify strategies that effectively use available resources while fulfilling program goals. Additionally, the Program Officer will develop briefing papers and topical reports that broadly contribute to the foundation’s understanding of new approaches, best practices, and issues in education reform.

As the Deeper Learning and OER initiatives continue to evolve, there may be additional opportunities for joint grantmaking efforts within the Education Program to enhance the team’s collective work. As such, the Program Officer will seek opportunities to partner with others on the Education Program team and will think creatively about cross-programmatic initiatives or other opportunities where it might be fruitful and productive to partner with colleagues.

Qualifications and Characteristics

The Program Officer should be a nimble, outcomes-driven thinker, a leader with a collaborative spirit and the willingness to take smart risks in order to advance knowledge of effective educational practice. She or he should bring a deep personal commitment to and experience with education practice and policy, and an appreciation for the challenges that practitioners face in the field. The successful candidate could have a background in a variety of settings – non-profit, government, private – and may bring professional experience across different parts of the education sector. The Program Officer should be comfortable operating within a relatively flat organizational structure and be able to work both autonomously and cooperatively with team members. The Program Officer must be based out of the Hewlett Foundation office in Menlo Park, CA, and is eligible to serve a term of eight years.

For this important role, the foundation seeks candidates with the following experiences, characteristics, and abilities. While no one candidate will embody every quality, the successful candidate will bring many of the following qualifications and attributes:

  • Deep experience working with education organizations and leaders, and an appreciation for the levers needed to facilitate systemic change in our country’s public education system.
  • Deep knowledge of evidence-based education research and evaluation methodology, as well as the principles of replicating and scaling successful educational models.
  • Experience leading and managing research in areas related to the program’s grantmaking and an ability to implement work with limited staff support.
  • A nuanced understanding of issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion in education; and experience working on these issues in practice.
  • Demonstrated commitment to learning and collaboration, and to working in authentic partnership with colleagues, grantees, and other key partners; an unwavering commitment to the foundation’s Guiding Principles.
  • Familiarity with research and trends in education assessment and technology.
  • Proven ability to define program objectives, evaluate progress, and independently manage projects.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills.
  • Interest in and willingness to travel (approximately 25 percent time nationally).
  • Independent initiative and a collegial spirit in sharing ideas and receiving feedback.
  • Adaptable, flexible nature; warmth, humor, and energy; integrity and humility.
  • Prior foundation grantmaking experience, in a relevant field, is preferred.
  • A graduate level academic degree in a related field is highly desirable.

About the Education Program

In March 2010, recognizing the critical need to upgrade the U.S. education system and the skills and knowledge of students, the Hewlett Foundation board of directors adopted a seven-year strategy to guide its Education Program. Under this strategy, the majority of the Program’s resources have been directed toward making grants to organizations that support setting new standards for equity and excellence in U.S. public education. The strategy also focuses on improving the conditions for education reform in California and on promoting open educational resources.

Today, the Education Program makes grants to help students succeed in college, work, and civic life by building toward Deeper Learning competencies and expanding access to Open Educational Resources. (Both programs are discussed in further detail below.) The Education Program pursues these goals by investing in organizations that develop and advocate for innovation in ideas, practices, and tools, as well as those that participate in the public policy debate on these issues. In 2016, the Education Program awarded 102 grants totaling $55 million to 118 active grantees.

Building on this work, the Education Program remains committed to deepening its focus on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in its grantmaking and related work. The Program plans to support with greater intentionality the most underserved performers and underrepresented students in the education pipeline, while maintaining its continued commitment to ensuring the success of all learners. Over the summer of 2016, the Education Program launched a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) pilot project with current Deeper Learning grantees. To date, through the DEI pilot, the Education Program has allocated approximately $500,000 across 10 organizations that are seeking to improve their internal DEI practices and capacities.

Deeper Learning

While the job market in the United States has changed significantly, the country’s K-12 classrooms operate in the same way as they did in the industrial era of the early 1900s. When today’s students graduate, the most valuable skill sets they can bring to the jobs of tomorrow go beyond basic math and English skills. The Hewlett Foundation seeks to help students become college and career ready and become engaged citizens at home.

To that end, the Education Program works to align K-12 schools in the U.S. to deliver and measure Deeper Learning – a set of six interrelated competencies: mastering rigorous academic content, learning how to think critically and solve problems, working collaboratively, communicating effectively, directing one’s own learning, and developing an academic mindset (a belief in one’s ability to grow).

The Deeper Learning portfolio is national in reach – examples of grantees include the Alliance for Excellent Education, the Learning Policy Institute, and the Council for Chief State School Officers – with targeted Deeper Learning pilot programs in California and New Hampshire, among other states.

Goals of Deeper Learning

Resetting learning goals – refocus schools on building deeper learning competencies by supporting policy reform to improve education goals, assessment, accountability, and practice. This includes engaging a community of researchers, policy leaders, and advocates to support such reform.

Strengthening assessment – help teachers use classroom-based formative and performance assessments to improve their practice, providing teachers and students with real-time, actionable feedback. Support a broad system of assessments to measure and facilitate student learning.

Scaling teaching practices – promote the creation and demand for high-quality instructional materials, and foster a community of practitioners that can test and demonstrate innovative teaching practices with the potential to influence instruction broadly, paying particular attention to historically disadvantaged communities.

Establishing a research base – invest in research to determine whether, how, and under what conditions deeper learning improves the lives, long-term career potential, and civic engagement of young people, including research on dispositions that are difficult to measure.

Open Educational Resources

In 2002, the Hewlett Foundation began investing in open educational resources (OER), which are high-quality teaching, learning, and research materials that are openly licensed and free for people everywhere to use and repurpose. Hewlett’s Education Program was one of the first institutions to invest in the field, helping to launch both MIT’s Open Courseware Initiative and Creative Commons. Since then, the foundation has partnered with several content producers as well as technical assistance advisors and policy groups to support the creation of an ecosystem of OER groups.

In addressing the costs and quality of learning in the U.S. and the dearth of high-quality course materials, the foundation sees an unprecedented opportunity to scale OER and unleash its potential to improve education for the future. Grantmaking promotes the uptake of OER as mainstream materials by supporting its use to address particular problems in education, such as the cost of textbooks in community colleges and more.

Goals of Open Educational Resources

K-12 – support the development of effective, high-quality, standards-aligned open educational resources for teachers and students in the United States, and promote OER as a way to increase educational access and equity in the developing world.

Postsecondary education – reduce the cost of college and increase the quality of pedagogy by ensuring that OER, including open textbooks, are freely and openly available for postsecondary courses, and that OER-based degree pathways are widely accessible in community colleges.

Infrastructure investment – support people and institutions promoting OER, research on OER effectiveness, and the technical basis for OER, including policy and advocacy, research, open licenses, interoperability, and accessibility standards.

Applications, Inquiries, and Nominations

Screening of complete applications will begin immediately and continue until the completion of the search process. All inquiries, nominations, referrals, and applications should be sent in confidence via electronic mail to:
Ericka Miller, Vice President
Katie Rockman, Managing Associate
Andarla Hodge, Associate
Isaacson, Miller
(617) 262-6500

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes a diverse pool of candidates in this search.

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