The Tinker Foundation is a private philanthropic foundation based in New York City with the mission to promote development in Latin America. Tinker realizes its mission by providing funding, in the form of grants, to civil society organizations (nonprofits, research institutes, and universities) working to address the region’s most pressing challenges. The institutions we support use Tinker resources to test promising ideas, extend the impact of proven models, and bring together stakeholders to solve problems in new ways. Current program areas are Democratic Governance, Education, and Sustainable Resource Management. The Foundation also provides targeted support for Latin American Studies in the United States. Tinker operates with an endowment of approximately $90,000,000 and a staff of five.
The Foundation seeks a Program Officer to join its team to support the Education program. The Program Officer reports to the President of the Foundation.
In our Education program, the Foundation’s grantmaking supports projects and programs that improve the access to and quality of education in Latin America. Funds may be used to pilot new programs, to conduct applied research and evaluations that will facilitate replication or adoption of successful programs by policymakers, or to generate public and policy debate on the topic.
In response to the massive impact of COVID-19 on education in the region, Tinker introduced a special initiative focused on equitable access to education during the pandemic. By December of 2021, Tinker will have awarded more than $2.5 million to civil society organizations focused on the most significant near- and medium-term effects of pandemic school closures and disconnection from learning. We have prioritized projects that seek active engagement and participation of the most vulnerable students and communities and, to the extent possible, complement priorities and initiatives of the public education system.
As education systems, communities, and civil society organizations begin to shift from emergency responses to longer-term educational recovery, Tinker will use the first half of 2022 to assess our pandemic-related funding to date and refine a strategy for the coming years. We will also work to support and learn from our current partners, including exploring opportunities for additional funding. The Program Officer, once onboard, will lead these day-to-day strategy and engagement efforts.
Once the updated strategy is in place, the Program Officer will assume responsibility for ongoing management of the Education program and grantmaking budget as outlined under “Core Job Responsibilities” below.
In addition to overseeing the Education program, a smaller portion of the Program Officer’s time (~15%) will be dedicated to managing the Tinker Field Research Collaborative. Through this program, the Foundation partners with Latin American Studies Centers at various U.S. universities to enhance access to and the impact of student field research in Latin America. More information on the Collaborative can be found here.
Core Job Responsibilities (not exhaustive)
- Work with the President, foundation staff, and external partners and advisors to refresh Tinker’s education strategy for the pandemic recovery period, identify goals and priorities, and set the learning objectives linked to our grant portfolio
- Source new relationships and projects, facilitate due diligence in partnership with Tinker’s Grants Management function, and evaluate proposals
- Monitor the grants portfolio and provide ongoing non-financial support to grantee partners, as appropriate
- Manage the program budget, ensuring effective and efficient use of the Foundation’s grantmaking resources
- Synthesize learning, opportunities for improvement, and evidence of impact at the grant and program level
- Lead efforts to communicate externally about the program and share key learning and products from grantees
- Build relationships with donors, experts, and stakeholders and identify opportunities for convening and knowledge exchange
- Represent the Foundation at external conferences and meetings
- Conduct regular travel to Latin America to develop new contacts, visit and learn from existing partners and grantees, and deepen Tinker’s understanding of key regional issues (typically ~10% of time)
- Participate in meetings of the Foundation’s Board of Directors to discuss and present proposals for funding
Tinker Field Research Collaborative
- Oversee ongoing management of the Collaborative, including convening members, supporting special projects, managing open grants, and identifying opportunities for Tinker and participating universities to better meet the Collaborative’s goals
- Collaborate with other staff members on Foundation-wide projects and workstreams (e.g., website, grants management platform, etc.)
Qualifications and Competencies
- Undergraduate degree and / or master's studies in related field, e.g., education, political science, social policy, economics, Latin American studies
- A minimum of five years of professional experience, including at least two years in a nonprofit / donor / philanthropy sector organization
- Significant professional experience in Latin America (or equivalent, e.g., as long-term volunteer or student)
- Knowledge of education policy strongly preferred, particularly in the Latin American context
- Demonstrated research and analytical skills, ideally applied in the context of grantmaking, programmatic or policy evaluation, resource allocation decisions, strategic planning, etc.
- Professional fluency in written and spoken Spanish
- Familiarity with Brazilian Portuguese valued but not required
- Eligibility to work in the United States
Competencies and Behaviors
- Ability to set and manage multiple priorities simultaneously
- Effective writing and speaking skills for a range of audiences
- Willingness to work independently and in teams
- Willingness to assume responsibility for administrative functions related to role (e.g., scheduling meetings and travel), as do all members of our lean team
- Proactive approach to addressing uncertainty and communicating with colleagues about emerging challenges
- Commitment to continuing professional development and learning from challenges and successes
- Comfort seeking out and providing candid feedback to colleagues at all levels
- Commitment to and interest in the mission of the Tinker Foundation
- Unimpeachable personal integrity
Profile of a Successful Candidate
As our next Program Officer, you are both passionate and pragmatic about the critical role of education in enabling thriving, inclusive societies in Latin America. You think in terms of systems and policy and also recognize the potential for civil society organizations to propose and experiment with innovative approaches, partner with public and private sector stakeholders, and advocate for greater accountability and more equitable outcomes. While you understand the breadth and diversity of Latin America, you are excited by the opportunity to think on a regional scale and identify approaches with relevance beyond their original context. You welcome the opportunity to serve as a conduit for the exchange of models and ideas and be a weaver of networks.
You have the capacity to translate programmatic strategy into rigorous, coherent day-to-day analysis of and decision-making on individual opportunities. This extends to communicating effectively about your findings and recommendations to a range of internal and external audiences. You are open to learning and humble about what you don’t know; you’re also resourceful in identifying ways to quickly enhance your understanding drawing on a range of sources and viewpoints.
You build lasting relationships and are prepared to navigate fairly, transparently, and empathetically the tough decisions and disappointment that can come with grantmaking in a context of high demand for funds and bounded available resources.
Note: We welcome and encourage candidates with prior grantmaking experience. However, we also value applications from those who have held roles in organizations funded by donors, and who can offer a firsthand perspective on the opportunities and challenges faced by nonprofit organizations reliant on external funding – particularly those working in Latin America.
Tinker Team, Culture, and Office Environment
Tinker’s staff is comprised of colleagues committed to advancing the Foundation’s mission through their various roles. As a small team, we rely on each member to embrace responsibilities at multiple levels of complexity and seniority.
In response to the pandemic in 2020, the Foundation switched to an entirely remote working environment. In the fall of 2021, Foundation staff began to return to the office with the option for partial remote work as we experiment with a hybrid model. The in-office work schedule for the Program Officer will be determined in consultation with the President and based on specific job requirements. Initial onboarding will likely require substantial in-person time. Given the Foundation’s return to some office-based operations, the Program Officer must be based in or willing to relocate to the New York metropolitan area with the ability to commute regularly to the Foundation’s Midtown Manhattan office. Tinker does not cover relocation expenses for this position.
The Tinker Foundation takes the health and safety of team members and visitors seriously and will continue to implement appropriate precautionary measures until they are no longer recommended by health officials and experts.
Compensation & Benefits
Tinker provides competitive compensation and excellent benefits, including an employer-provided 401(k) plan, health insurance, and generous paid-time-off. The expected annual salary for this full-time role will range from $80,000 to $110,000 depending on experience.
Submit a cover letter and resume via email to Caroline Kronley, President of the Tinker Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Program Officer Job Application” in the subject line. In your cover letter, indicate how your skills, experience, and professional interests are a strong fit for the role.
Given the approaching holidays, we will begin formally reviewing applications in early January. Based on prior hiring cycles, we anticipate a large volume of applications and request patience from applicants as we review each submission. We will confirm receipt of each application but cannot accommodate requests for informational interviews or personalized feedback.
Priority for first-round interviews will be given to applications received by January 15, 2022, with a preferred start date in March, 2022. References will be requested from finalists.
The Tinker Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetic information. We are committed to equity and diversity and to the recruitment and retention of people from backgrounds less represented in philanthropy including Latinx, Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, and people with disabilities.