The Susan Thompson Buffett Foundation (STBF) is now seeking nominations and applications for a Program Officer for its College Access and Success Team. STBF is a private grant-making Foundation with a U.S. home office in Omaha, Nebraska, and a global office in Kigali, Rwanda. With annual spending in excess of $500 million, it is one of the largest private foundations in the U.S. The Foundation has two main areas of grant making: 1) supporting efforts to reduce unintended pregnancy and ensure access to safe abortion for women in the U.S. and around the world and 2) to enable low-income students in Nebraska to attend and succeed in college. The Foundation currently employs 43 staff across 14 states in the U.S. and 7 staff in Kigali, Rwanda.
The Program Officer (PO) will oversee grantmaking that supports clear and accessible pathways for Nebraskans wishing to pursue a college or university degree. The PO will lead strategic thinking within the college access space, regularly reviewing literature and issues relevant to the mission and field and examining how access initiatives fit into the mission of the College Access and Success division. The PO will create and implement strategic plans to strengthen pathways to college and identify and address equity gaps. The PO will communicate regularly with college, community, and external stakeholders and serve as the point of contact for initiatives related to college access. The Program Officer will work closely with high school counselors, college preparation programs, and community organizations to build strategy and cohesion across multiple sectors, so students, no matter where they are from, have a clear pathway to college.
About College Access and Success
The College Access and Success (CAS) division of STBF, led by the Vice President of College Access and Success, manages the Foundation’s grantmaking to ensure all Nebraskans have access to higher education and the resources to successfully complete their degree. The mission of CAS is to provide sustainable, long-term access to higher education opportunities and support to degree completion for at-promise Nebraskans (i.e., students who are low income, many of whom are also first-generation college students, and students of color). A small yet dynamic team of people dedicated to student success, the CAS division works collaboratively with partners across the state to strengthen the higher education system that provides learners (specifically at-promise and adult learners) with robust educational opportunities. Using an equity lens, the CAS team is focused on creating sustainable systems change, maximizing the impact of financial aid, and creating evidence to support high-impact practices to reach these goals. We believe that all students deserve a college experience that is affordable, makes them feel like they belong and matter, and that maximizes their chances of success. The CAS team works with institutional and community partners to achieve these goals, while also interacting regularly with students and family members to gain primary knowledge of our ongoing efforts. The Buffett Scholarship program is the largest grant within the unit, funding nearly 3,500 students annually to attend a public institution tuition-free in the state of Nebraska.
The Foundation is intent on safeguarding the values that drive our culture:
Respect for Donor Intent
Appetite for Risk and Tolerance for Failure
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Passion Tempered by Objectivity and Evidence
Compassion and Love of Humanity
Honesty and Integrity
Kindness, Respect, and Humility
The CAS PO will need to have a genuine understanding of, and appreciation for, the significance of these values and aspirations and how they are operationalized in the work the Foundation undertakes. Finally, the candidate will need to be aligned with STBF’s progressive values, including unambiguous support for an individual’s reproductive freedom.
The Program Officer will bring a deep spirit of humility, honesty, and collaboration to the role of grant maker, managing grants within the college access space while also actively seeking opportunities to work with others on the team. Successful Program Officers are careful stewards of the Foundation’s resources, while having the opportunity to engage in the following areas of work:
Co-Develop and Manage Goal-Oriented College Access Strategy and Work Plans for CAS
Serve as a Partner and Relationship-Builder with Grantees, Applicants, other Funders, and Stakeholders
Steward the Foundation’s Resources through Budgeting, Grant Monitoring, and Compliance
Collaborate Internally to Advance Collective Work and to Uphold a Strong Team Culture
While no one candidate will embody all the qualifications enumerated below, the ideal candidate will possess many of the following professional and personal abilities, attributes, and experiences:
Abilities and Attributes
Demonstrate a deep commitment to ensuring equal access to and completion from higher education and to creating opportunities for low-income and/or underserved students (including adult learners).
Be organized, efficient, and detail-oriented – capable of maintaining a quick pace of work with high quality.
Provide innovative thinking with knowledge of, and experience in, higher education and transition programs.
Seek input from and value the uniqueness of people from different groups and identities. Work effectively with individuals of diverse cultures, interpersonal styles, abilities, motivations, or backgrounds. Challenge practices or policies that may be exclusionary. Proven commitment to race equity.
Develop and maintain effective working relationships with team members, internal and external partners and others using strong interpersonal skills. Work effectively with people outside formal authority to accomplish goals. Practice kindness, authenticity, and optimism when working with others.
Ask questions and probe all sources for answers; see underlying or hidden patterns; look beyond the obvious and not stop at the first answers. Use rigorous logic and methods to learn, analyze and understand why barriers exist/problems occur; generate and implement creative, cost effective and realistic solutions.
Look for new or alternative ideas from a wide range of sources. Consider future consequences and trends while considering future possibilities.
Communicate effectively both in writing and verbally. Listen carefully and seek mutual understanding in daily interactions. Demonstrate skill in public speaking and ability to convey complex content in clear ways to a range of audiences.
Be comfortable in situations of conflict. Demonstrate an ability to say “no” when necessary and appropriate and have the confidence to choose the correct answer over the popular one. Show tolerance for ambiguity and be very comfortable with constant change brought on by internal and external pressures or expectations. Understand the value of flexibility and adaptability.
Background and Experience Qualifications
Minimum: Bachelor’s degree in education, sociology, or related field.
Minimum: Five (5) years of experience in college access and success programs or support services for underserved students, including experience managing direct reports, relationships, projects, or processes.
Preferred: Master’s degree in education or related field.
Preferred: Professional experience in excess of seven (7) years with increasing responsibility directly related to the role.
Preferred: Experience working in an environment with colleagues and partners across multiple locations.
Travel Requirements: The foundation is headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska and the successful applicant must reside within Nebraska. If working outside of Omaha, it is expected that travel to Omaha would occur twice a month and to other places in Nebraska to do site visits/meetings 4-6 times per month.
Hiring Requirements: As part of our standard hiring process for new employees, employment will be contingent upon successful completion of a background check and proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 and any recommended booster doses, subject to applicable laws.
Compensation: Compensation for the Program Officer role starts at $148,000. The Foundation also provides comprehensive benefits.
This search is being led by Cara Pearsall and Robert Diggs of NPAG. Candidates may submit their cover letter, outlining their interest, qualifications, and experience in the college access and success space, along with their resume, via NPAG’s website.
Accommodations: If you require accommodation due to a disability in the application or recruitment process, please submit a request to email@example.com.
We are committed to creating a workplace where employees thrive both personally and professionally. This includes not only creating a diverse team where everyone feels represented, respected, and included, but also embedding these values across our work and practices. All applicants who are drawn to serve our mission will enjoy equality of opportunity and fair treatment without regard to race, color, age, religion, pregnancy, sex, sexual orientation, disability, gender identity, gender expression, national origin, genetic information, veteran status, marital status, and prior protected activity.