Position Summary

The McKnight Foundation seeks a Program Officer for the Vibrant & Equitable Communities (VEC) Program, who will report directly to the VEC Program Director and will work closely with the Foundation’s Midwest Climate & Energy Program.  The Program Officer will be responsible for developing and implementing grantmaking and related efforts that will increase statewide infrastructure and capacity to build power, engage diverse people in advancing our shared prosperity, and create platforms for broader participation in movements to realize vibrant, equitable communities.

Experience in one or more of the following fields is required:

  • Civic engagement
  • Strengthening democratic participation
  • Voter engagement and mobilization
  • Electoral advocacy
  • Multi-issue / Multi-constituency organizing

Competencies specific to this position include:

  • Commitment to strengthening civic engagement / democratic participation in Minnesota
  • Knowledge and understanding of the possibilities as well as legal boundaries or civic engagement work
  • Strategic acuity and agility, easily navigating between theory and practice
  • Deep ethics and values, grounded in integrity, trust, and listening

Broadly, the Foundation seeks applicants for this role with experience in and with philanthropy, nonprofit organizations, or government.  Specifically, individuals with professional work experience in community with state-based networks, political campaigns, or grassroots movement building – are encouraged to apply.  Experience working with a board of directors and donors is preferred, as is experience working with a family board of directors.

Essential Functions

Provide expertise in civic engagement and strengthening democratic participation:

  • Source new ideas and innovation in civic engagement and strengthening democratic participation, using a race and class lens, and emerging learning practices to enhance existing strategies and strengthen multi-issue statewide networks
  • Maintain current information about local, regional, and national activities related to the Foundation’s grantmaking interests in the Vibrant & Equitable Communities Program, Midwest Climate & Energy Program and other areas of intersection with McKnight program teams
  • Manage consultants, as needed, to accomplish program area goals related to research, publications, reviews, or evaluations
  • Manage and participate in other program-related activities including: convenings, participation in grantee and funder networks, special events, and the commissioning of reports and publications
  • Measure and communicate progress, and incorporate knowledge from grantmaking experience back into program activities
  • Work with the Program Directors to ensure that strategies align with the mission and program priorities established by the McKnight Foundation board of directors.

Provide expertise in program strategy and grantmaking in the areas of strengthening democratic participation and civic engagement:

  • Develop and implement a Minnesota-based strategy to strengthen the movement efficacy and power of those affected by injustice
  • Work within and across program teams, using trust-based philanthropy principles to review letters of inquiry and grant requests, conduct field visits, evaluate grantee capacity for success, make funding recommendations, and share reports for team and board approval
  • Participate in grants administration by composing and processing grant-related documents and correspondence in a timely fashion, maintaining tracking mechanisms to monitor grantee portfolio progress
  • Establish and maintain effective working relationships with grantees, key stakeholders, and other members of Foundation staff
  • Model behavior that ensures that grantmaking principles and practices align with Foundation values and operating principles.

Foster and nurture relationships with community partners:

  • Represent the Foundation in the community
  • Nurture and maintain positive relationships with grantees and community partners with an emphasis on cultivating intersectional, multi-racial, and cross-community connections
  • Manage and organize grantee convenings within areas of mutual interest and importance
  • Foster working relationships among nonprofit organizations, policy makers, funders, governmental partners, and others to strengthen the field of work and connect across fields of work.

Participate in Foundation-wide meetings and events:

  • Attend and actively participate in staff meetings and retreats
  • Participate in cross-functional work groups as appropriate.

Core Competencies

All leaders at McKnight are expected to display the following attributes:

  • Strategic mindset
  • Communicates effectively
  • Instills trust
  • Drives results
  • Manages complexity
  • Builds networks
  • Collaborates effectively
  • Models resiliency

Position Qualifications

Education & Experience

  • A Bachelors’ degree is desired
  • Minimum of 7 years related full time professional work experience in community with state-based networks, political campaigns, and/or grassroots movement building
  • Experience in and with a foundation, nonprofit, or government field, or a combination of equivalent experience and training
  • Experience working with a board of directors or donors preferred
  • Experience working with a family board of directors desired

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

  • Ability to work effectively and collaboratively across organizational functions
  • Ability to work collaboratively and respectfully with a variety of people and groups, particularly nonprofit organizations, community leaders, governmental groups, and research institutions or universities
  • Ability to analyze, question and identify key issues and use data to support conclusions
  • Ability to view issues and challenges from multiple dimensions and apply intellectual energy and creativity
  • Ability to prepare clearly written summaries and analysis
  • Ability to engage others and influence shared outcomes
  • Knowledge of governance and operations of nonprofit organizations
  • Ability to communicate effectively interpersonally and in group presentations
  • Ability to handle heavy workload and meet deadlines

Working Conditions and Physical Effort

  • Work is normally performed in an office work environment with very little physical effort required
  • There are frequent off-site meetings required
  • There are frequent evening meetings or events required
  • Some national travel is required
  • Regular operation of office machines (computer, copier) is required

This is a full-time exempt position based in Minneapolis.

The above statements are intended to provide a general framework of what this position requires. There may be other functions and qualifications that emerge in time, and the chosen candidate may be asked to perform other duties that are not listed here.

Compensation and Benefits

The McKnight Foundation provides a competitive compensation package. Benefits include health, dental, life, and disability insurance; generous paid time off; contribution to a retirement plan; matching charitable gifts program; and a flexible work environment. This opportunity is a full-time, exempt position based in Minneapolis. The salary range is $111,600 – $117,800.

The McKnight Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and proudly values diversity. We encourage candidates of all backgrounds to apply.


The position closes July 2, 2021 at 5:00 pm Central Time.

For more information  please email Linda Nguyen of Movement Talent at Linda@MovementTalent.org