The Sobrato Family is committed to building a strong and vibrant Silicon Valley community through business and philanthropic leadership. The Sobrato Family Foundation operates primarily as a place-based grantmaker that invests in organizations serving the residents most in need in Santa Clara, San Mateo and Southern Alameda counties. The Foundation utilizes both real estate and cash to achieve a positive local impact, by providing in-kind office and meeting space at its three nonprofit centers in Redwood Shores, San Jose and Milpitas; awarding multi-year grants for general operating support to a wide-range of Silicon Valley nonprofits; and implementing two place-based strategic grantmaking approaches focused on expanding opportunities for low-income beneficiaries: the 21st Century Education and the Pathways for Success programs.
In addition, the Foundation operates the Sobrato Early Academic Language (SEAL) model, to accelerate the success of English Learner (EL) students in preschool and elementary school. The model was developed in 2007-2008, piloted in three schools in 2008-2013, and has been rapidly replicating since 2013 – with 89 active schools in 2016-2017 that are located in Silicon Valley, other parts of the Bay Area, the Sacramento region, the Central Valley, and in Southern California. As a complement to SEAL’s expansion, the Foundation is beginning to pursue opportunities for statewide advocacy around the needs of English Learner students, and for advancing research-based education policy that will better support this critical, rapidly growing population of children in California.
About the Model:
The SEAL model is a comprehensive approach of intensive, enriched language education for the implementation of next generation content standards, with a strong focus on building the capacity of educators and public school systems. SEAL was designed and is currently directed by Dr. Laurie Olsen, a national expert in English Learner education. Core principles of the model include: viewing bilingualism and EL students as an asset; all students and EL’s in particular learn best through thematic, hands-on, exploratory and inquiry-based curriculum and pedagogy; oral language development is foundational to literacy; students achieve more quickly and at a higher level when they pursue schooling in systems that are aligned, coherent, and which provide consistency in learning strategies across the early education environment and primary grades in K-12. The SEAL model is a research-based approach, intended to support educators in enacting the best current knowledge about child development and academic learning for English Learners. The model has also been replicated with a desire to demonstrate to policymakers, and others interested in shaping policy, how school systems can be incentivized and supported to make substantial shifts in practice that reflect current or potential policy imperatives.
The Director of Policy and Advocacy (DPA) will be responsible for SEAL’s overall approach to engaging in and advancing policy and advocacy strategies. The DPA will develop tightly coordinated goals and agendas internally with SEAL leadership, as well as with the Foundation’s leadership and its appropriate grantee partners. In particular, the DPA will remain constantly vigilant in assessing and responding to the local policy landscape in the districts where SEAL is implemented, and connecting SEAL’s local policy efforts to the Foundation’s broader approach around statewide policy. The DPA will be directly responsible for building and maintaining essential relationships with key policy and advocacy leaders – with a priority on the local actors in SEAL’s partners districts. Additional relationships may involve statewide leaders in education agencies, in equity-focused advocacy and policy groups, in civil rights and legal service organizations, and in media and communications outlets.
As a member of the SEAL leadership team, the DPA will contribute to the overall planning and management of the enterprise – holding multiple priorities to deliver in his/her specific domain of responsibility of policy and advocacy, while also supporting the organization’s goals for development in other domains such as training, research and evaluation, internal operations, etc. As a project of the Foundation, the DPA will maintain and facilitate SEAL’s collegial collaboration with the Foundation’s CEO, Director of Strategic Grantmaking, Program Director, Program Officers, and the Board or its committees.
To support the expected growth of the SEAL model, as well as the Foundation’s expanding strategies around policy and advocacy for English Learners, the DPA may also be tasked to identify on-going organizational development needs regarding internal capacity to support policy and advocacy work. Specifically, should the SEAL team include the future addition of an engagement manager and/or program associate, the DPA will be expected to provide supervision and support to such a role – around clear priorities that reflect deeper capacity and sophistication in our work.
The candidate will bring the following qualifications and attributes:
Bachelor’s degree required; master’s degree preferred.
Minimum of 7-10 years experience, including organizational-wide leadership.
Deep knowledge of education policy; experience in student equity issues, English Learner education, Early Childhood education and/or teacher capacity-building a plus.
Sophisticated understanding of the units of government and policy-making bodies, and their processes, that impact education at the local and statewide level.
Exceptional initiative, vision, and enthusiasm to develop and implement short and long-term strategies, with the ability to motivate staff, colleagues and external partners.
Expert relationship management skills; demonstrated capacity to envision, construct and guide effective, durable coalitions of diverse stakeholders animated towards clear, attainable goals.
Persuasive communicator and external representative, spoken and written, to powerfully convey the core principles and specific policies the organization and its advocacy partners are trying to advance.
Work well independently and within a multi-faceted team - and experience managing a team of colleagues - demonstrating robust flexibility, collaboration, creativity, and comfort with ambiguity.
Exceptional organizational and multi-tasking skills, ability to be proactive and constantly prioritize responsibilities in a fast moving and rapidly changing environment.
Extraordinary judgment, diligence and attention to detail.
Strong computer skills including proficiency in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, as well as social media applications; experience in Mac environment preferred.