Eden Prairie, Minnesota

Program Officer, Postsecondary Success, Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies

The Organization

Ballinger Leafblad is pleased to conduct the search for Program Officer, Postsecondary Success at Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.

Based in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies (MACP) was established through the generosity of Margaret A. Cargill, a granddaughter of the co-founder of Cargill, Inc. MACP encompasses two grantmaking entities, Margaret A. Cargill Foundation and Anne Ray Foundation, whose collective assets place it among the 10 largest philanthropies in the United States.

The organization’s grantmaking supports work in seven domains: Animal Welfare, Arts & Cultures, Disaster Relief & Recovery, Environment, Quality of Life, Teachers, and Legacy & Opportunity.

The organization’s grantmaking reflects the values and Margaret Cargill’s guiding principles and is always directed toward the mission and core purposes.

We expect our grantmaking to have these characteristics:

  • We lead with our values, internally and externally.
  • We partner with capable organizations that have demonstrated their ability to work successfully in our interest areas and in a manner consistent with our values. We look to our grantees as partners and co-learners.
  • We provide meaningful support to strategic grantees.
  • We support work in and with communities toward sustainable solutions.
  • We pay special attention to underserved or low-attention areas, populations, or issues.
  • We value and affirm the integration of all functions of the Philanthropies in our grantmaking.
  • We make measurable impact on focused goals.
  • We evaluate our work, reshape our approaches as we learn, share and apply our learning to future grantmaking.

All this we do, not to bring recognition to ourselves, but to support our grantees in the work they do to provide meaningful assistance and support to society, the arts, and the environment, in a manner consistent with our founder’s wishes and intent.

Done well, this will distinguish us.

To provide meaningful assistance and support to society, the arts, and the environment.

The cultural aspirations of MACP are to be humble, compassionate, respectful, honest, professional, ethical, and mindful of the importance of carrying out the philanthropic work as envisioned by Margaret A. Cargill.  Staff members need to be comfortable in an organization that is still “young” with ongoing growth and development. This is a culture where teamwork is critical, learning is ongoing, and decisions are made thoughtfully.

Our Cultural Values inspire us to learn, create, and excel through strong relationships with one another, our partners, and our community.

MAKING A DIFFERENCE – Working together to make lives better

• Our collective efforts are focused on furthering our mission

• We engage with colleagues and partners to achieve meaningful shared goals

• Everyone’s contributions count and even small actions have great value

• We encourage self-sufficiency

RESPECT – We treat people well

• We live full lives and appreciate one another’s time

• We listen to understand, and encourage candid, constructive dialog

• We welcome and value diverse perspectives and world views

• We actively support organizational decisions

• We show compassion to those in need

EXCELLENCE – We set the bar high

• We are committed to bringing our best, every day

• Our high-performing teams set and meet challenging goals

• We believe collaboration leads to better results

• We invest in expertise and bring the right resources to the table

• We are responsible stewards

LEARNING – Always growing

• We are committed to mentoring and developing our people

• We are willing to try new things

• We learn from our experiences, including our mistakes

• We embrace change as a means of growth

INTEGRITY – Do the right thing, even when no one is watching

• We take on commitments thoughtfully, and we deliver on what we promise

• We strive to earn and maintain trust

• We are committed to results without sacrificing our values

• We act and interact with honesty and authenticity

HUMILITY – “It’s not about us…”

• We are grateful for the opportunity to be part of MACP’s work

• We focus recognition on those who do the good work

• We value expertise and honor what others contribute

• We are mindful of the power dynamic in philanthropy

Position Overview

The Program Officer is responsible for supporting the development, implementation, and management of the Postsecondary Success program of the Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies’ Quality of Life domain. This position operates under the supervision of a Program Director and works in collaboration with the Managing Program Director, other Program Officers, and Program Associates. The Program Officer will work with team members and other Foundation staff in building and managing an effective grantmaking program to support the strategic content and desired impact for the Postsecondary Success program.

Across all programs, MACP seeks to support work in and with communities toward developing solutions that deliver effective, sustainable programs that improve the quality of life for vulnerable populations.    The Quality of Life domain has a broad goal of supporting life’s journey at vulnerable stages for children, young adults, families and the aging.

The overall goal of the Postsecondary Success program is to increase college success specifically for students from rural and Native American communities. “Success” might be characterized by improved retention, attainment, skill development, graduation, or employability. MACP anticipates supporting public, private, and Tribal institutions and higher education intermediary organizations. The program focuses in an eight-state region, including states in the upper Midwest, Pacific Northwest, and the state of Kentucky.


• Support the development and implementation of strategically aligned grantmaking portfolios for the Postsecondary Success program.

• Work with applicants on all aspects of the MACP grantmaking process, including due diligence review of potential grantee organizations. Assist applicants in developing realistic proposals that are aligned with strategic funding priorities, within the scope of the budget of the Postsecondary Success program, consistent with MACP grantmaking policies and practices, and within applicants’ capacity to deliver.

• Oversee active Postsecondary Success grants, track grantee progress, provide guidance and assistance to grantees, and review and analyze grantee reports. Monitor progress of grantees and provide clear communications to grantees, applicants, and other interested parties.

• In collaboration with the Managing Program Director, Program Director, other Program Officers, and MACP’s Evaluation team, develop qualitative and quantitative methods to analyze program impact and effectiveness for the purposes of learning and accountability.

• Analyze and research practices, trends, innovation and institutional best practices in delivering Postsecondary Success programs.

• Maintain an understanding of public policy and funding mechanisms and the role of private giving that supports postsecondary success for Native American students and students from rural communities.

• Prepare written materials for board and management review.  Assist with board meeting preparations and participate and present information in board meetings as necessary.

• Manage grantee relationships diplomatically in a manner consistent with MACP’s values and Philosophy of Grantmaking.

• Work collaboratively with MACP Legal, Finance, Grants Management, and Evaluation teams to conduct due diligence, assess institutional capacity, and monitor active grants.

• Promote partnership and a culture of learning within MACP and among grantees.

• Attend meetings, conferences, and site visits related to understanding postsecondary success for Native and rural students.

• Organize site visits for Program Director and other MACP staff and leadership.

• Support program strategies and financial targets through the development and implementation of a grantee portfolio. Strategically and responsibly recommend new grant concepts that will further strategic impact of the program portfolio.

• Represent MACP to the public, including community leaders, social service and community-based organizations, and colleagues in the field of philanthropy.

• Facilitate relationships and partnerships across organizations and institutions working on shared issues, in coordination with the Managing Program Director, Program Director, and other Program Officers.

Education, Experience and Other Qualifications
The ideal candidate is an experienced professional with demonstrated experience in higher education, and/or education philanthropy or related fields, such as:

• experience as an educator or program administrator at a rural college or university and/or at an institution serving significant numbers of Native American students;

• work coordinating or directing efforts to improve the recruitment, retention, and success of students from Native and/or rural communities or other underrepresented student populations;

• experience implementing High Impact Practices in postsecondary education; and/or

• experience working in and with communities toward sustainable solutions to improve the success of postsecondary students from Native and/or rural communities.

Experience as a grantmaker is also desired. An undergraduate or graduate degree in a related field or equivalent work experience is expected.

Candidates should have an active curiosity and passion for MACP’s program interests and values, including making a difference in communities, forming deep partnerships with grantees, providing support to low-attention needs, and working with humility. Successful candidates will be collaborative, positive, and able to deal well with ambiguity and change. They will be adept at building collegial relationships and able to respond to issues with clarity and diplomacy. They will inspire and foster trust and confidence in staff, management, and their colleagues.

Other essential skills and experience include:

  • An understanding of the emerging trends, concepts, and technical and practical issues involved in postsecondary success, especially in Native and rural communities.
  • Strong project management and planning skills including the ability to organize and prioritize tasks, effectively manage time, meet multiple competing deadlines, work independently and in a team environment, quickly develop written materials, maintain a positive attitude under pressure, and manage budgets.
  • Strategic thinking with analytical and planning skills and experience.
  • Experience with evaluation methodology.
  • Experience as a user of grant-management or similar database software and tracking systems.
  • Professional demeanor with proven ability to build collaborative relationships.
  • Self-motivated and able to work independently.
  • High level of personal and professional integrity and ethics.
  • Demonstrated high commitment to intercultural understanding and sensitivity.
  • Strong communication skills, including making verbal presentations and producing clear and concise written documents.

Up to 20%. Most if not all travel for this position will be domestic.

Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies is an equal opportunity employer and encourages candidates of all identities, experiences, orientations and communities to apply.

The above statements are not intended to encompass all functions and qualifications of the position; rather, they are intended to provide a general framework of the requirements of the position. Job incumbents may be required to perform other functions not specifically addressed in this description.

View the complete profile:

How To Apply

For additional information and to apply for the position please contact:

Marcia Ballinger, PhD


Lars Leafblad, MBA

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