Jobs Board

Senior Program Associate, Higher Learning (Mellon Foundation)

Company Name

Mellon Foundation

Company City

New York

Company State


Job Location

New York, NY

Company Information

The Mellon Foundation (“Foundation”) is a not-for-profit, grant making organization that believes that the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity, and that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom to be found there. Through its grants, the Foundation seeks to build just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive. The Foundation makes grants in four core program areas—Higher Learning, Public Knowledge, Arts and Culture, and Humanities in Place—and through its signature Presidential Initiatives.

The Foundation seeks a Senior Program Associate in the Higher Learning program. Please note that Mellon maintains a hybrid work schedule, with three days/week in person at the Foundation’s Manhattan offices.

About the program:

The Higher Learning program strives to make advanced humanities knowledge as broad, deep, and varied as possible, in terms of both the perspectives it represents and the audiences it reaches. Understanding such optimized knowledge to be an intrinsic social good, we work with colleges, universities, and allied organizations to ensure that its value is widely recognized and that the power deriving from it is equitably distributed. We support curricular, scholarly, and structural innovations that further these goals, at all levels of the postsecondary educational system.

Higher Learning’s program strategies are to:

• Elevate the knowledge that informs more complete and accurate narratives of the human experience and lays the foundation for more just and equitable futures
• Accelerate the demographic transformation of US academic faculties and institutional leadership to better reflect the population and center humanities expertise
• Create equitable broader access to humanities higher learning opportunities

Recent examples of projects funded through the Higher Learning program include “Centering Indigenous Epistemologies,” “Ivy+ Mellon Leadership Fellows,” and “Operation Restoration.”

Please visit the Foundation’s grants database to see all of the grants made through Higher Learning.

Job Description

The Senior Program Associate (SPA) will be a strategic thinker and thought partner in the Higher Learning program, reporting to and directly supporting the Program Director while also collaborating with the Senior Program Officers, the Program Officer, and other program staff; with colleagues in other departments (especially Grants Management and Legal Counsel); and on executive and operations teams. The SPA must stay abreast of developments and trends within humanities higher education and be capable of incorporating that knowledge into written materials prepared on behalf of the Program Director. Additional independent work will involve the review and preparation of materials in the grantmaking process, the monitoring and evaluation of grant-funded activities, communication with principal investigators and financial directors at grantee institutions, and the preparation of documents for the Foundation officers and trustees. The Senior Program Associate also contributes as needed to relevant research, evaluation, and planning efforts, as well as to various collective activities and special initiatives, and helps maintain an effective and collegial work environment.

The successful candidate will be thoughtful, highly motivated, able to anticipate and move forward with various aspects of the program’s workflow, solutions-oriented, collaborative, and congenial, with well-developed writing, oral-communication, and organizational skills. The work is highly detail-oriented and requires consistent accuracy, the ability to anticipate outcomes, facility with multi-tasking, flexibility, cool-headedness, self-direction, patience, efficiency, and discretion.

Position Details:

Responsibilities may include, but will not be limited to, the following:

• Track and analyze trends across the humanities fields in which the program focuses its work
• Conduct research in connection with current and new program initiatives
• Participate as needed in meetings with current and potential grantees; take meeting notes and maintain records on potential and actual grant activities
• Actively collaborate in the formulation of new proposals for funding
• Advise grantees in the preparation and revision of the narrative and financial components of proposals
• Draft grant recommendations for the board and the Foundation officers, and prepare special reports for the trustees and senior staff as requested by program leaders
• Research and draft materials to be presented by the Program Director in a range of public forums
• Monitor grantee performance, both through communication with primary investigators and through review of grant reports; review requests for grant modifications, extensions, and transfers and take appropriate actions
• In accordance with program guidelines and Foundation-wide policy and practice, help keep grant records in Fluxx, the Foundation’s grants management system, up to date and complete
• Attend program and administrative staff meetings; help plan and coordinate on- and off-site meetings as needed
• Represent the Foundation at public meetings and conferences, and on grantee site visits as assigned
• Collaborate with staff in other programs as required
• Work with external consultants and evaluators on an occasional basis

Mellon offers a generous total reward package that provides base salary as well as a comprehensive benefits program. Mellon is committed to providing compensation that is competitive and equitable within the philanthropic sector. The estimated salary range for this role is $135,000-$175,000. The amount of pay offered will be determined by several factors, including but not limited to qualifications, unique skills, credentials or experience that is expected to impact the candidate’s contribution to the role. We will also consider market data as well as the Foundation’s internal pay equity framework.

Please note that Mellon maintains a hybrid work schedule, with three days/week in person at the Foundation’s Manhattan offices.

Job Qualifications

Candidate Qualifications:

PhD in a humanities field preferred, though outstanding humanities MA holders with several years of grantmaking experience will be considered.

• 7+ years of relevant work/field experience, or a comparable combination of work experience and educational attainment
• Experience with grants administration and knowledge of Fluxx strongly desired
• Keen understanding of and interest in disciplines in the humanities and humanistic social sciences
• Demonstrated knowledge of organizational practices and field-wide trends in higher education
• A deep and nuanced understanding of how issues of racial and social justice figure within higher education
• Strong financial literacy; ability to read and decipher budgets, spreadsheets, and balance sheets
• Integrity, discretion, and attention to detail
• Ability to work with minimal direct supervision on multiple fronts at once, while being a committed team player; capacity to bring projects to fruition and meet regular deadlines in a high-volume, fast-paced environment
• Exceptional oral, written, and visual communication and presentation skills, including public speaking
• Excellent analytical, critical thinking, organizational, and problem-solving abilities
• Willingness to travel for conferences, site visits, and meetings with active and potential grantees and other stakeholders
• Demonstrated computer skills, including mastery of Microsoft Office suite, particularly Excel, PowerPoint, and Word, and familiarity with web-based technologies
• Commitment to promoting and maintaining a collegial, collaborative work environment

How to Apply

Candidates should apply by submitting a thoughtful cover letter describing fit for the position and a resume.

The Foundation will consider each response carefully, but only contact those individuals it believes are most qualified for the position.

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