Kansas City, MO

Program Officer, Entrepreneur Support Organizations, Heartland Strategy, Kauffman Foundation

The Organization


The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation was established in the mid-1960s by the late entrepreneur and philanthropist Ewing Marion Kauffman. Based in Kansas City, Missouri, the Kauffman Foundation is among the largest foundations in the United States with an asset base of approximately $2 billion.

The Foundation’s vision is to foster “a society of economically independent individuals who are engaged citizens, contributing to the improvement of their communities.” In service of this vision, we focus our grant making and operations on two areas – education and entrepreneurship – which our founder, Ewing Kauffman, saw as two ends of a continuum. A quality education is the foundation for self-sufficiency, preparing young people for success in college and in life. Many young adults will work in businesses started by entrepreneurs. Some will become entrepreneurs themselves, providing jobs and wealth for society.

Our mission:

To help individuals attain economic independence by advancing educational achievement and entrepreneurial success, consistent with the aspirations of our founder, Ewing Marion Kauffman.

The Entrepreneur Support Organizations (ESO) team works to benefit entrepreneurs across the Heartland region of the United States (Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas) by ensuring entrepreneurs have equitable access to the resources they need to start and grow businesses. Kauffman convenes and make grants to Heartland ESOs in order to develop programs, forge partnerships, and build organizational capacity to serve more entrepreneurs with high-quality support.

Kauffman is seeking a Program Officer (PO) to join our ESO grantmaking team. Like every member of the team, the PO will agree to live our team values of integrity, achievement, leadership, respect, and honesty, in addition to the Foundation’s associate credo.

Position Overview


The Program Officer (PO) manages a broad grant portfolio that addresses systemic inequities that impact entrepreneurial success in the Heartland. Additionally, the Program Officer will manage a peer-learning community designed to encourage collaborative, regional entrepreneurship support and strategy development.

Specific Responsibilities include: 


·         Design, facilitate, and lead a Request for Proposal process—an open call intended to identify high-merit grantee proposals from ESOs in the Heartland region.

·         Facilitate continuous improvement of grantmaking and lead-generation processes across the ESO team with an eye for equity and inclusion.

·         Rigorously evaluate potential grantees, both remotely and in person, based on financial and organizational capacity, as well as strategic fit.

·         Review grant proposals submitted and present grant write up for approval.  Ensure grants are aligned with program strategies and provide clear, concise and insightful written analysis and recommendations for funding including drafting and editing proposal summaries and progress reports for existing grants for review. Report clearly defined outcomes/metrics.

·         Coordinate with internal grantmaking partners across the department and Foundation, seeking consensus and alignment during the planning and evaluation of potential grants.

·         Manage and oversee assigned grant portfolio, including monitoring grantee spending and performance:

o   Monitor grantee performance through analysis of outcome data, grantee reports and site visits.

o   Establish goals, outcomes and metrics to be achieved with each grantee over the term of the grant, documented in contract.

o   Identify grantee challenges, develop recommendations for interventions.  Track effectiveness of interventions.

o   Manage forecast spending and budget planning on all grants; determine reporting requirements and payment schedule.

·         Report grant status updates; prepare reports and information for team and board meetings.

·         Facilitate all communication to grantees, especially in regard to expectations and requirements of the grantee.

·         Develop and maintain a theory of change relevant to the RFP.

Community of Practice:

·         Manage the ESO “Community of Practice” (CoP) peer-learning strategy, including recruitment of community members, meeting planning and logistics, ongoing engagement, and deliverable development. CoP work is intended to develop norms of working collaboratively across the region, sharing learnings and best practices, and integrating community feedback loops that help mitigate systemic barriers to entrepreneurship faced by entrepreneurs in the Heartland.

·         Ensure that the resulting CoP membership is representative of the region and manage relationships with members to create an inclusive environment.

·         Collaborate with internal staff and external consultants to design, deliver and evaluate the CoP process.

·         Develop and maintain a theory of change relevant to the CoP.

·         Lead internal efforts to share relevant learnings from the CoP and grantmaking efforts.

Department Support:

·         Grow and maintain a range of content knowledge on all issues that are of interest to the department, with a special focus on diversity, equity and inclusion in entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship support. Capacity and willingness to keep up with an evolving landscape is important.

·         Support the operationalization of diversity, equity, and inclusion in strategy, evaluation and activity plans for the ESO strategy. Contribute to similar efforts to support the departmental and foundation-wide strategy as relevant and needed.

·         Build key partnerships; acting as a catalyst, colleague and advocate who is dedicated to educating groups on Kauffman initiatives and engagement.

·         Participate in foundation and community events as needed to support strategic goals.


Education: Demonstrated dedication to lifelong learning, work experience, and qualifications in the field(s) of community organizing, social welfare, non-profit management, local/state government, philanthropy, and/or entrepreneurship support. Bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience considered.

Work Experience: Professional experience or demonstrated expertise in fostering equitable outcomes for entrepreneurs or communities systemically left behind is required. A minimum of five years relevant, progressive experience in public sector, private sector, non-profit, philanthropy, politics, economic development, or academic/research/think tank setting is required. Experience managing and/or seeking grants and experience working in entrepreneurship support and/or as an entrepreneur is preferred.

Travel: This position may require up to 33% business travel.


Qualified candidates for this position must be highly motivated, capable of self-directed work, detail-oriented and able to work collaboratively across teams and departments. Candidates must exhibit a keen sense of responsibility and enjoy working with multiple demands, shifting priorities, and constant change.

A successful candidate profile:

·         Ability to build and manage strategic relationships internally and externally, motivating and persuading stakeholders to take action.

·         Ability to communicate exceptionally well in both verbal and written form.

·         Ability to actively and critically listen.

·         Ability to share feedback that is both candid and kind.

·         Ability to analyze and understand academic and other literature.

·         Ability to analyze and understand financial information such as budgets, forecasts, cash flow statements and income statements.

·         Capacity to understand the goals and desired outcomes of the department.

·         Ability to construct logical arguments that connect grant outcomes to overall departmental goals.

·         Adequate understanding of organizational and leadership dynamics in order to identify grantee capacity for success as well as potential risks.

·         Demonstrated exceptional organization skills including the ability to meet or exceed expectations with regard to deadlines and successfully managing concurrent multiple projects.

·         Possess a passion for “doing what is right,” with unquestioned integrity, positive ethics and values reflective of the Kauffman Foundation.

·         Strong computer literacy skills, including word processing, spreadsheets, data base applications, and social media.

All of the statements in this position description are intended to describe the general nature of the work being performed and are not intended to be construed as an exhaustive list of all responsibilities, duties and skills required. This document describes the position currently available.  The organization reserves the right to modify job duties or job descriptions at any time.


A competitive compensation package, including base salary and an outstanding benefits package will correspond to the experience level, credentials, and skills of the candidate.


The Kauffman Foundation firmly supports the principle and philosophy of equal opportunity for all individuals, regardless of age, race, gender, creed, national origin, disability, veteran status, or any other protected category pursuant to applicable federal, state, or local law.

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