The Ford Foundation seeks an experienced, engaging, and thoughtful Program Officer to help shape and drive the Foundation’s social justice grantmaking efforts in Detroit, Michigan. The Program Officer should feel equally confident and comfortable working with elected officials, grassroots activists, business leaders, and city residents alike. He or she will be primarily responsible for shaping and implementing the foundation’s grantmaking strategy to produce greater and more equitable prosperity and opportunities for the people of Detroit. This job will be based in Detroit.
Ford Foundation is focused on challenging inequality in all its forms. This goal is reflected in all seven of the Foundation’s program areas, and in all of the regions and places where it works. Given the Foundation’s longstanding and permanent commitment to Detroit, its grantmakers have developed a cross-programmatic approach to reducing inequality to benefit the city’s most vulnerable residents and communities.
The Foundation’s current goal in Detroit is to achieve an equitable recovery from Southeast Michigan’s protracted economic decline and the more acute effects of the Great Recession. In keeping with its commitment to challenge inequality in all its forms, the Foundation is developing an integrated multifaceted strategy to address the structural drivers of inequality in Detroit to create lasting change. Some of the Foundation’s efforts are related to economic issues, such as improving the quality of wages and work, stabilizing neighborhoods, and increasing housing opportunity. It also focuses on strengthening the voice and participation of Detroiters in municipal decision making, supporting the city’s diversity of cultural institutions, bridging the region’s longstanding racial divides, and boosting opportunities for youth. To advance these efforts, the Foundation provides support to community-based organizations, civic institutions, advocacy groups, and organizing networks, and works closely with elected officials, business leaders, and philanthropic partners.
PROGRAM OFFICER'S CORE RESPONSIBILITIES:
The Program Officer will work under the supervision of the Director of Equitable Development. He or she will:
Work closely with the Foundation’s cross-programmatic working group on Detroit grantmaking, as well as the Equitable Development program team to refine the Detroit grantmaking strategy and implement efforts to accomplish significant impact
Engage with prospective and current grantees to assess the quality and alignment of their ideas and proposed work in relation to the Foundation’s goals; evaluate organizational strengths and weaknesses; help grantees develop proposal ideas, goals, and indicators of success
Make grants to organizations that are critical to an equitable recovery in Detroit in a timely manner; engage with grantees during their grant periods to learn about progress and implementation challenges; and draw lessons from grant outcomes
Manage a portfolio of grants, including ensuring strong linkages and synergies between individual grants; convening grantees to support collaboration and shared learning opportunities; analyzing grant reports to inform the broader strategy and relevant fields, and participating in long-term planning for future grantmaking
Represent the Foundation in Detroit, and develop and strengthen relationships with partners in government, the private sector, philanthropy, non-profits, the media, and other sectors
Routinely track and assess major trends, opportunities, and challenges in the region, as well as developments in other U.S. locations that could have an impact on Detroit
Contribute to learning activities related to the Foundation’s place-based initiatives, including analyzing and drawing broader lessons from the results of the Foundation’s grantmaking, and staying abreast of current news, data, and evidence that could be applied to strategy refinement
Communicate with key audiences through a variety of means, including written pieces, speeches and presentations, and strategic communications activities.
BA/BS plus a minimum of 8 years leading social justice strategies and/or subject-matter expertise related to place-based social change in cities or other related topics addressed by the Foundation’s Equitable Development program area; MS preferred
A deep understanding of the U.S. urban policy field, including the fiscal, economic, social, cultural, racial, and gender dimensions that define challenges and opportunities in Detroit
Expertise in addressing the systemic factors that can produce more equitable outcomes for Detroiters, including a deep understanding of structural challenges that lead to racial disparities
A demonstrated track record of productive collaboration and teamwork, intellectual curiosity, and high standards for analytical rigor
Excellent written and oral communications skills, a high regard for transparency and openness, and strong active listening skills
ALIGNMENT TO THE MISSION AND THE CULTURE OF THE FORD FOUNDATION:
Commitment to the Foundation’s social justice mission and core values of equity, inclusion, and diversity
Personal qualities of humility, a sense of humor, open-mindedness, and flexibility
Discretion to handle confidential issues and excellent judgment in handling challenging issues and situations
Action-oriented, entrepreneurial spirit, and ability to work well independently and in teams