Senior Program Officer, Education Research Infrastructure
Washington, DC or Seattle, WA
Up to 35%
Job Description Summary
The vision of the foundation’s U.S. Program (USP) works to ensure all students in the US have access to educational opportunities, from Pre-K to postsecondary, that enable them to develop the knowledge, skills, and agency needed thrive as adults and contribute to their communities. As part of USP, the foundation’s K-12 team seeks to significantly increase the number of Black, Latinx, and low-income students who earn a diploma, enroll in a postsecondary institution, and are on track in their first year to obtain a credential with labor-market value.
The current infrastructure for education research & development is highly fragmented, complex, variably funded, and bureaucratic. Researchers and developers of new ideas in education, be they academics, school and district practitioners, or entrepreneurs, have conflicting interests, and limited incentives and weak structures to collaborate and produce useful evidence about effectiveness of education practices and tools at meaningful scale. Despite hundreds of millions of dollars invested in education research annually, the field struggles to identify what practices, models and tools positively impact which students, in a wide range of school environment. We believe innovation is possible and needed, to shift the paradigm of education research, to make it more responsive to the questions practitioners have, inclusive of ideas and inputs from communities, and faster, cheaper and more effective in delivering clear conclusions about what’s working
This Senior Program Officer will be charged with leading our program strategy to improve education research and development infrastructure, inclusive of data collection and reporting schema, processes and methodologies for developing and validating education interventions in productive partnership with schools and communities in service of solving critical education challenges that require the testing of new ideas. This is an emerging portfolio, where we seek to develop an array of partnerships and collaborations with a range of actors in pursuit of a new way of doing things.
Develop and implement a portfolio strategy focused on improving the research data infrastructure, development and validation processes and methodologies for education innovations and catalyzing greater, more focused funding within the education research ecosystem.
Design and manage complex collaborations among partners, governments, and/or funders to create systemic change in how education research and evidence building functions, making it more efficient, engaging of diverse stakeholders, and effective. Leverage and secure new funding to grow and/or sustain field results
Negotiate, execute, and manage complex portfolio of grants or performance-based contracts. Develop requests for proposal, investment concepts and grant proposals that identify and select a diverse range of partners who bring a range of technical expertise, community relationships and practice based experience. Provide clear, concise and insightful written analyses and recommendations for funding.
Manage collaborative and trusting partner relationships in ways that ensure productive feedback loops between partners and the foundation around shared goals. Develop and maintain relationships with key national and state level intermediary organizations and government agencies.
Provide technical guidance and insights to colleagues cross the US program on research and development related topics in education.
Effectively represent and communicate the complexity of the foundation’s work in education to key external stakeholders, including researchers, practitioners, students, policy makers and community leaders. Serve as a thought leader through articles, blogs and other social media and speaking at conferences. Represent the foundation to external advisory groups related to education research and development
Core Knowledge and Skills
You have lived in both worlds of education research and practice and experienced their challenges first hand. You have looked for ways to address them by creating unique partnerships of strange bedfellows and innovative methods that seek to shift the status quo in positive ways. You respect and honor the rigor of the academy, the wisdom of practice, and the power of lived experiences inside the education system equally. You bring both a deliberate, analytical mindset and an urgent desire to make progress as fast as possible, so that our education system begins to deliver stronger outcomes for students that have been underserved, particularly students of color and those experiencing poverty. Additionally, the following skills and competencies will be critical for success in this role:
Strong working knowledge of the education sector at multiples levels (school, district, state, federal)
Deep understanding of education research funding mechanisms, evaluation and synthesis processes and methodologies
Knowledge of the role of critical organizations and actors across education research to practice continuum
Knowledge of inclusive user centered design processes
Knowledge and expertise in research and evidence building methodologies and study design
Understanding of research registries and journal requirements, data and reporting taxonomies
Strong strategic thinking, synthesis and analytical problem-solving skills. Ability to prioritize and manage large amounts of information relevant to the work.
Ability to lead diverse teams, and lead through influence vs direct authority
Ability to form partner relationships using concise feedback, negotiation skills, diplomacy, good judgment on how much information to convey and when, and the ability to cultivate trust
Strong program and project management skills
Excellent written & verbal communications skills effective with a broad & diverse audience.
Ability to be highly effective while managing shifting internal expectations. Ability to negotiate and mediate competing perspectives
Education and Experience
10+ years of experience working in some combination of public education agencies, non-profit education organizations, research clearinghouse, journals or university-based centers focused on innovative approaches to building evidence in education. Multiple years of experience working in or with local K-12 education agencies and school leaders.
Advanced degree or equivalent experience.
Experience directing complex, multi stakeholder partnerships.
As part of our standard hiring process for new employees, employment with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will be contingent upon successful completion of a background check.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is dedicated to the belief that all lives have equal value. We’re committed to creating a workplace where employees thrive both personally and professionally. We also believe our employees should reflect the rich diversity of the global populations we aim to serve—in race, gender, age, cultures and beliefs—and we support this diversity through all of our employment practices.
All applicants and employees who are drawn to serve the mission of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will enjoy equality of opportunity and fair treatment without regard to:
- Sexual Orientation
- Gender Identity
- Gender Expression
- National Origin
- Genetic Information
- Veteran Status
- Marital Status
- Prior Protected Activity