Program Officer, Youth Opportunity and Learning (East Africa)

Ford Foundation
  • Location
    Nairobi, Kenya
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
    Mid Career
  • Posted
    Mar 07

Position description

The Ford Foundation’s office in East Africa seeks a dynamic and innovative Program Officer to drive and shape the foundation’s work in the critical area of advancing Youth Opportunity and Learning (YOL). The Program Officer will support the strategy of the East Africa Office and the broader social justice goals of the Ford Foundation.

Addressing inequality is the key focus of the Ford Foundation globally and in East Africa. In an effort to support building inclusive, democratic countries in East Africa, the overarching goal of the office is to help create a more responsive government at the national and local levels that is realized through increased citizen demand. 

A significant component of the work will focus on investing in a new, diverse generation of young leaders committed to advancing social justice and find solutions to major challenges confronting the sub-region, especially inequalities around educational achievement, voice and participation. The Foundation strives to achieve this by working with critical stakeholders and partners in government, civil society, private sector and donor community including the growing number of local philanthropies in the sub-region.

Reporting to the Foundation’s East Africa Regional Director and working with a multidisciplinary team of Program Officers, the Youth Opportunity and Learning Program Officer will be responsible for developing and implementing a strategy that strengthens young peoples’, civic engagement and political participation to ensure that public resources benefit their interests and supports efforts to connect youth with networks, mentors, and movements that build their leadership skills and agency.


The Youth Opportunity and Learning Program Officer will:

  • Refine the theory of change for the  for the office and lead the development of integrated program strategy, identifying key leverage points and opportunities for impact, as well reflect the complementary roles of government, market, civil society, learning institutions, communities and youth with a view to fostering dialogue, collaboration and commitment
  • Solicit, review, and respond to grant proposals and develop grant making activities in a team-oriented context that are aligned to the strategic goals of the YOL thematic area and the regional strategy. 
  • Oversee active grants, track grantee progress, provide guidance and assistance to grantees, and respond to grantee reports. 
  • Collaborate with and serve as a resource and strategic partner for other program officers within the office and the entire Foundation in its work on YOL. 
  • Organize Foundation-sponsored meetings of grantees, experts, and practitioners in the field of youth opportunity and learning and high performing nonprofit practice.
  • Promote engagement among grantees to review opportunities, challenges and advances and encourage collaboration, learning, exchange and strategic partnerships.
  • Represent the Foundation and its work to the government, media, academic, business, philanthropic, and civic leaders through meetings, updates, speeches, briefings, blog posts, and interviews, with guidance from the Regional Director.
  • Manage the performance of an assigned Program Assistant and other assigned staff. 
  • Develop learning strategies related to the achievement of the portfolio’s goals
  • Provide thought leadership in the field of Youth Opportunity and Learning in East Africa


  • BA/BS plus at least 8 years’ experience (or equivalent combination of education and experience) leading social justice strategies and/or subject-matter expertise related to youth opportunity and learning.
  • Advanced degree in relevant field of study or related disciplines, preferred
  • A proven record of experience and knowledge on youth engagement, development and support; in particular, a strong understanding of concepts and issues in youth learning, skill development, leadership and agency as well as demonstrable familiarity with challenges confronting young people in East Africa
  • The ability to think and act strategically and innovatively consistent with the Foundation’s commitment to outcome-oriented grant-making and the ability to make trade-offs with end goals in mind.
  • Demonstrated ability to work collaboratively and effectively with peers in shared efforts.
  • Experience managing coalitions or other processes involving multiple organizations.
  • Proven ability to bring disparate constituents together and build consensus. 
  • Relevant work experience in areas such as nonprofit management, philanthropy, management consulting, academia, organizational development, or other related fields.
  • Experience working in both domestic and international contexts (preferred).
  • Strong project management, prioritization and analytical skills High level of personal and professional integrity and quality standards.
  • Excellent judgment, flexibility, good humor, and humility.
  • Strong interpersonal skills and proven ability to effectively engage with youth, government, nongovernmental organizations, private sector, academic and research institutions, donor agencies and local/rural communities
  • Written and oral fluency in English 
  • Ability to work both independently and collaboratively with others as well as in teams

Travel: Domestic and international travel expected, approximately 20-25%; some travel is directly related to grantmaking, but also to attend team conferences, retreats and meetings. Given that we work across different time zones, some non-traditional hours for early or late calls are an expectation of this role.


  • Commitment to the Foundation’s mission and core values of equity, fairness, and diversity
  • Personal qualities of humility, capacity for self-reflection, and a sense of humor
  • Discretion and ability to handle confidential issues
  • Action-oriented and entrepreneurial self-starter who can work well independently and in teams

Application instructions

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