Do you have a background in workforce development or rural
postsecondary education? Are you passionate about creating pathways
for learners in rural areas to achieve academic and career success
while staying in their communities? As a Program Officer at
Ascendium, you’ll combine that experience and enthusiasm to manage
a portfolio of grants and strategic partnerships that support rural
postsecondary education and workforce training opportunities.
You’ll source grant ideas and partners, assess theories that emerge
from the field, shepherd grant applications through the proposal
process, develop reporting and payment structures, support grantees
and cultivate relationships with peers and other funders.
This position is based in Madison, Wisconsin at our new,
state-of-the art headquarters. You’ll have a hybrid schedule,
working both in the office and remotely. You’ll also have
opportunities to travel to conferences, grantee events and other
This position may be filled at a senior program officer level,
depending on your qualifications. Senior program officers typically
have at least a decade of related experience and are recognized as
leaders in their field.
- Your day-to-day activities may include the following.
- Partnering with the director of education grantmaking and
colleagues to ensure Ascendium’s rural postsecondary education and
workforce training grantmaking activity is effective and aligned
with overall strategy.
- Discovering and applying insights that help refine Ascendium’s
grantmaking strategy and effectiveness as a funding partner.
- Monitoring and coordinating future grantmaking prospects.
- Helping develop and plan for one or more of Ascendium’s
- Sharing best practices with grantees and connecting them to
other resources as necessary to help them succeed.
- Coordinating with Ascendium’s communications team on focus area
- Collaborating with the director of education grantmaking to
establish annual planning and budgeting priorities to advance focus
- Developing relationships and partnerships with national and
regional funders that support the successful execution of
Ascendium’s grantmaking strategy.
- Representing Ascendium at national and regional conferences and
engaging with funder networks and field working groups and
- Performing other related duties as assigned.
Knowledge and Skill Requirements
A highly qualified candidate will possess the following.
- Knowledge equivalent to a master's degree in philanthropy,
social sciences, social work, community development, education,
economics, business or a related field.
- Five or more years of experience in postsecondary education;
local, state or federal government; workforce development; economic
development; philanthropy and/or nonprofits.
- Familiarity with state or local workforce development
strategies, training pathways that create access to well paying,
high-growth jobs and federal and state government rural workforce
training funding streams.
- Ability to work cooperatively and inclusively with others to
achieve shared goals.
- Effective interpersonal skills exemplified by initiative,
courtesy, diplomacy, positivity and professionalism.
- Ability to develop and maintain strong working relationships
with and among a diverse group of stakeholders.
- Curiosity and a desire to continuously learn.
- Comfort with ambiguity and the ability to adapt to a
fast-paced, continually evolving work environment.
- Strong project management skills with a demonstrated ability to
execute and follow through to achieve intended results by honoring
commitments, prioritizing work and managing time and resources
- Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
Ascendium is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that has helped millions of
learners pursue postsecondary education since 1967, when we were
formed to help fulfill the promise of the landmark Higher Education
Act of 1965. Over the years, we’ve grown to become the nation’s
largest federal student loan guarantor, providing information,
tools and counseling to help millions of borrowers nationwide avoid
default and keep the door to reenrollment open. We also conceive
and develop innovative products and services that support academic
achievement, financial wellness and student loan repayment success
and invest in studying and improving postsecondary education
practices through our philanthropy.
We use the net proceeds from our guaranty services and other
operations to fund our philanthropy. The Philanthropy team
comprises program, grants management, and learning and impact staff
who all have a shared commitment to advancing our philanthropic
mission of elevating opportunities for learners from low-income
backgrounds so they can achieve postsecondary education and career
success. Our grantmaking focuses on transforming postsecondary
education and workforce training systems so they can support
low-income populations, especially those in historically
underrepresented groups, including first-generation students,
incarcerated adults, rural community members, students of color and
veterans. Currently, our philanthropy focuses on removing
structural barriers to success, streamlining key learner
transitions, expanding postsecondary education in prison and
supporting rural postsecondary education and workforce training.
Across these four focus areas, our funding supports innovative
ideas, the creation of an evidence base and the expansion and
replication of effective practices.
Ascendium offers an outstanding
benefits package designed to provide employees and their
families with a high degree of security. These benefits include,
but are not limited to:
- Comprehensive medical, dental and vision insurance.
- Generous time off.
- Continuing education opportunities, including tuition
assistance and student loan repayment assistance.
- Paid volunteer time off.
Ascendium provides equal employment opportunity to all
individuals regardless of their race, color, religion, sex, age,
national origin, creed, disability, veteran status or any other
characteristic protected by state or federal law. We are strongly
committed to this policy and believe in the concept and spirit of
If you would like assistance with the application process,
please email Ascendium
Human Resources. We invite all applicants to complete the
Voluntary Affirmative Action questions when submitting application
materials. The questions are found at the end of the online
application process. To learn more about our commitment to Equal
Employment Opportunity, please visit the Ascendium
Ascendium requires criminal, employment and education background
investigations before hiring.