Early Childhood Education and Education Systems Program Officer for Latin America and the Caribbean

  • Nonprofit Full Time
  • International
  • City: Mexico, preferred location Mexico City, Yucatan Peninsula, or Chiapas

Website W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF)

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 by Will Keith Kellogg, is a leading philanthropic organization dedicated to providing equal opportunities for children to thrive. With a mission that transcends boundaries of sex, race, creed, and nationality, the foundation collaborates with communities to create favourable conditions for vulnerable children’s development in education, health, and overall well-being. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation impacts social change through grants in the United States, Mexico, and Haiti, specifically with a commitment to innovation. The Kellogg Foundation continually evolves to address the ever-changing needs of society, emphasizing the health, happiness, and well-being of children.

In Chiapas and the Yucatán Peninsula, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation has actively supported community-visioning processes to amplify Indigenous voices and discern community priorities. Presently, grantees in these regions are fostering alliances to improve quality in primary school education, promote culturally and linguistically relevant learning, and elevate teacher quality. Additionally, efforts are underway to bolster family incomes by supporting entrepreneurism, expanding agricultural production and developing new value chains. The foundation is also working towards improving access to quality maternal-infant health services and advocating for potable water to enhance nutrition. On a national scale, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation is engaged in developing systems to better serve children and families, emphasizing the establishment of robust public-private partnerships with both governmental and non-governmental organizations. This includes the active inclusion of Indigenous communities and leaders in crucial decision-making processes, underscoring a commitment to fostering equity and community engagement.

The Program Officer at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation holds a critical role with responsibilities including executing specialized work, managing program portfolios, fostering key stakeholder relationships, and implementing projects in Chiapas and the Yucatán Peninsula. They play a vital role in grant screening, funding recommendations, and on-the-ground program oversight. With a focus on building authentic relationships and providing high-level technical assistance, this role will contribute to strategic planning, articulate change strategies, and identify impactful grant opportunities.

Purpose of role and responsibilities

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), a leading philanthropic institution helping communities create the conditions children need to thrive, is seeking nominations and applications for the position of Program Officer, Early Childhood Education and Education Systems, based in Mexico. In recent years, the foundation has sharpened its focus on improving conditions for vulnerable children, concentrating on three key factors of success and their intersections: education and learning; food, health, and well-being; and family economic security. The foundation has made a generational commitment to grantmaking that advances the vision of a future in which every child thrives.

The Program Officer performs as a strategic and systems-thinker, and a partnership- and network-builder, who has achieved notable success in the field. Leading and overseeing grantmaking efforts aimed at advancing high quality education experiences for children and families in Chiapas and the Yucatán Peninsula. The Program Officer will be particularly focused on leveraging the foundation’s role in supporting the educational success of Mexico’s youngest residents. The candidate will have a deep understanding of the systemic and racial barriers that families and communities face and the structural and historic challenges of accessing high-quality, culturally responsive educational experiences, and promising opportunities to reshape the education experience and benefits for children, families, and communities.

The Program Officer will join the foundation to address timely educational challenges in partnership with communities already experiencing the highest levels of education inequity. The Program Officer will join an extraordinary team of individuals who are passionate about eradicating education and social disparities and improving well-being for all children and can expect to engage in the following opportunities:

Early childhood education and education systems. The Program Officer has a strong analysis of the systemic barriers that have prevented marginalized communities, families, and educators from gaining access to a range of local and state support systems and be actively engaged in breaking down those barriers to advance education equity and successful educational outcomes. The Program Officer position will develop a robust network connecting long-standing and emerging leaders, institutions, industries, and grantees in the region that support the foundation’s mission and inform and advance its work in Chiapas and the Yucatán Peninsula. The Program Officer will expand and deepen the foundation’s work in education equity shaping the work and supporting communities to enhance the well-being of children and families throughout Mexico.

Systemic change and technical assistance. The Program Officer will identify and recommend grantmaking opportunities that leverage WKKF investments for maximum impact in creating systemic change and will build and maintain strong authentic relationships with grant seekers and grantees, external partners, and local and government officials, ensuring mutual understanding of WKKF program direction, goals, and expectations. The candidate will provide high-level technical assistance to grantees including conducting site visits and consulting on model development, partnership negotiations, leadership capacity building, and coaching.

Strategic learning and evaluation. The Program Officer works closely with WKKF’s Learning and Impact team to incorporate assessment components into program efforts to measure progress and impact on early childhood and education systems development. The candidate will document and circulate lessons learned from grant investments, networking meetings, and other foundation-related activities. The Program Officer will work collaboratively to identify and prioritize knowledge and learning from the foundation’s work to shape and inform future investments and partnerships.

Communication and dissemination of knowledge. The Program Officer will build public goodwill and policy awareness of issues affecting vulnerable children and families and their impact on early childhood and education systems development. The candidate will contribute ideas on how the foundation’s knowledge and learning could be packaged and disseminated to benefit nonprofit executives, business leaders, government officials, community leaders, parents, and other external stakeholders of the foundation. The candidate will serve as a credible, articulate representative and spokesperson for the foundation and will communicate strategic direction and funding interests to various audiences, internal and external to the foundation.

Impact and racial equity. The program officer will join a networked team focused on grant making locally and nationally that advances key initiatives in Early Childhood and Education Systems development and addresses root causes of, including but not limited to, access to programming, teacher and staff training and development, equitable pay, culturally and linguistically relevant programming, community engagement and race equity and racial healing. In partnership with place-based and national initiatives, this Mexico based program officer will be an active contributor to a matrixed organization that prioritizes a learning and equity-focused approach to investment decisions and toward achieving the desired impact and improvements for children and their families.

Qualifications

The ideal candidate will be first and foremost committed to the foundation’s mission and will have a current understanding of broad systemic forces affecting education equity and the well-being of children, their families, and their communities. The candidate will be distinguished as a leader in the field of early childhood education and education systems, with a strong team orientation, a high tolerance for ambiguity, and the ability to adapt quickly to change. While no one person will embody all the qualities enumerated below, the ideal candidate will possess many of the following professional and personal abilities, attributes, and experiences:

Core experience

  • Bachelor’s degree in a field relevant to the assigned area is required and an advanced degree is preferred.
  • Minimum five years (eight to ten preferred) of related work experience and demonstrated success in a field or fields relevant to assigned responsibilities, specifically significant relevant community and state systems experience in early childhood education and education systems. Significant relevant work experience with strong networks and contacts with a deep and comprehensive understanding of program design and development, systems, networking, and community change is preferred.
  • Track record of successfully leading and developing others and comfort within highly collaborative organizations and cross-functional teams.
  • Familiarity and experience with philanthropy as a tool to promote and advance high-quality, culturally, and linguistically grounded early childhood education and primary education and educational equity.
  • Strong networks in Mexico, specifically- In Chiapas and the Yucatán Peninsula and the ability to shape community, state and national initiatives based on community input, and to connect communities to state and national public and private sector resources.
  • Fluency in Spanish and English is required. Basic knowledge in at least one indigenous Mexican language of Maya, Tseltal and/or Tsotzil is preferred. Fluency in Haitian Creole, Portuguese, and/or French preferred.

Early childhood education/ Primary school education expertise

  • Sophisticated understanding of educational disparities and solutions in Mexico and related systems and policy landscapes at the local, state, indigenous, and national levels.
  • Ability to successfully navigate the different social, and political forces at play in local governance systems in Mexico.

Policy and partnerships

  • Skilled understanding of philanthropy’s role in supporting community organizing and policy advocacy to leverage current trends, movements, and opportunities in early childhood and education systems development. Experience leading efforts to build coalitions between government, nonprofits, and employers who are committed to high-quality, culturally, and linguistically appropriate early childhood education and educational equity programs and initiatives.

Systems thinker

  • Demonstrated flexible, multidisciplinary thinking required to address early childhood education and educational equity and the drive to shape and inform the work based on immediate issues and emerging opportunities found in communities; understanding of the broad social and economic forces that affect communities and families and shape educational programming efforts.
  • Capacity to develop and implement impactful programs and effectively communicate strategic frameworks to grant-seekers, stakeholders, and collaborators; deep and comprehensive understanding of community engagement, program design, policy and systems change.

Relationship builder

  • Strong relationship building and communication skills; demonstrated success in forging and stewarding partnerships with the private sector, tribal governments, federal, state, and local government agencies, foundations, policymakers, and stakeholders in early childhood education and educational equity support of children and families.
  • Critical consciousness to effectively work with and support vulnerable communities including an appreciation for historical context, discernment of relationship nuances and power dynamics, and understanding of cultural, racial, and ethnic realities.
  • Holistic and multi-dimensional approach to leadership development, organizational change, and community transformation; ability to think globally while working locally, representing WKKF to a variety of stakeholders and intermediaries in a credible and influential way and in a selfless manner.

Emotional intelligence

  • Demonstrated ability to have authentic dialogue around sensitive issues including funding priorities, WKKF expectations, and community concerns; highly developed emotional intelligence and active listening skills, and the ability to use interpersonal skills in collaborative, diplomatic ways.
  • Successful experience working as part of a multidisciplinary team and working effectively with persons from diverse cultural, racial, and ethnic backgrounds, including tribal members; willingness to set aside a personal agenda in favor of organizational and community goals and objectives.
  • An optimistic outlook and the humor, integrity, and patience necessary to work within a transformative environment.

Execution

  • Excellent writing, editing, analytical, and oral communication skills including the ability to collect, synthesize, and present information and findings.
  • Ability to multitask and meet deadlines within designated timeframes, as well as demonstrated resourcefulness in setting priorities for oneself and team; strong organizational skills and exceptional attention to detail with the ability to work both independently and collaboratively, to take initiative and contribute ideas.
  • Ability to represent WKKF to a variety of stakeholders and intermediaries in a credible and influential way, with a selfless manner focusing on values and the greater good.
  • Ability to travel to our communities approximately 50% of the time is required and regular attendance on-site at the Battle Creek headquarters to facilitate interaction and alignment with other grantmaking teams and programs is required.

To apply for the post

To apply for this role, please submit a copy of your CV/resume and a cover letter outlining your interest in the role and how you fulfil the requirements set out in the job announcement by clicking on link.

If you have any questions about the role or organisation and would like an informal chat ahead of submitting a formal application, please reach out to Ruth Gardner at ruth@darylupsall.com. An applicant’s pack is also available upon request.

The deadline for application is Monday 26th February 2024.

 

To apply for this job please visit recruitcrm.io.


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