Program Officer, Youth Development and Education

The Ford Family FoundationRoseburg, OR
Glide Bridge – Photo Credit: Roseburg Tracker

About The Ford Family Foundation

Foundation History

A national leader in rural philanthropy, The Ford Family Foundation is a private foundation benefiting rural communities in Oregon and Siskiyou County, California. In 1957, Kenneth W. Ford & Hallie E. Ford originally established the Foundation to give back to the timber communities of southwest Oregon. During its formative years, the Foundation concentrated its support on three counties in Oregon and California: Douglas, Coos, and Siskiyou.  Over time, the Foundation’s size and scope increased to include a statewide focus on rural communities while remaining committed to the original three-county region.  One of the largest grantmaking foundations in Oregon, The Ford Family Foundation currently has assets in excess of $1 billion, an annual budget of approximately $45 million, a seven-member board of directors, 43 employees, and two office locations (headquarters in Roseburg, Oregon and scholarship office in Eugene, Oregon).

Foundation Mission & Vision

The Foundation’s mission is Successful Citizens and Vital Rural Communities, reflecting a belief that children in rural Oregon and Siskiyou County should have the family, educational and community supports they need to become successful adults. Consistent with a recently completed strategic plan, the Foundation is targeting all of its philanthropic tools – grants, scholarships, community building,  convening, research, and strengthening statewide systems – to improving the wellbeing of children, families, and communities in the region.

In support of its mission of Successful Citizens, the Foundation invests in initiatives, partnerships, and grants focused on the people who live in rural communities. Current efforts and focus areas include early childhood development, youth development, and education, child abuse prevention and intervention, postsecondary success, scholarships for college students, and career readiness for postsecondary students.

In support of its mission of Vital Rural Communities, the Foundation invests in initiatives, partnerships, and grants focused on rural communities. Current efforts and focus areas include community capacity building, leadership development, community-based efforts to improve local conditions, workforce and business development, rural community capital projects, and rural economic vitality.

Kenneth W. Ford

About Roseburg

Located in Southwestern Oregon, Roseburg is a part of the Hundred Valleys of the Umpqua. The Umpqua River, which gives the region its name, meanders for 111 miles through valleys and mountains before emptying into the Pacific. The community is nestled in a lush, forested region approximately an hour from Eugene to the north (home to the University of Oregon) and Medford and Ashland to the south. There are myriad recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts within the Roseburg area and nearby: Oregon beaches are to the west, Crater Lake National Park is to the east, and the region is famous for hiking and fishing. Theater lovers from throughout the world flock to Ashland, home of the world-renowned Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and the wines of the region are becoming world-famous. Roseburg, with a population of approximately 24,000, is the county seat of Douglas County, an area about the size of the state of Connecticut with a population of approximately 110,000 people.

The Opportunity

The Foundation is increasingly focused on the interconnectedness between our public, private, nonprofit, and community systems, and identifying how they must work together more effectively for improved outcomes in rural communities. The Youth Development and Education Program Officer (Program Officer) will join the Children, Youth and Families team to further develop and manage a portfolio aimed at improving alignment between the K-12 system, early childhood education, youth development, behavioral health, postsecondary preparation, and transition, and career technical education. Leading with a partnership orientation, the Program Officer will be charged with effectively building bridges and strategic synergy with other key systems that impact child and youth success. This individual will work closely across Foundation programs and with partners from overlapping issue areas to build and strengthen the systems that enable rural children, youth, and families to thrive.

Children, Youth and Families: Program Officer, Youth Development and Education

The aim of the Children, Youth, and Families Department is to increase the number of children in rural Oregon and Siskiyou County, CA who are thriving, supported, and prepared to transition successfully to adulthood. The department maintains a focus on kindergarten readiness, pre-natal to third-grade transition, and a productive K-12 school experience, recognizing that good health and supportive families and communities are key to school childrens’ success. The Program Officer will manage and carry out all of the Foundation’s work specifically aimed at improving outcomes for youth ages 6-18 while contributing to the Foundation’s broader, cross-cutting efforts to strengthen supports for children, youth, and families in rural areas.  The Youth Development and Education portfolio focuses on supporting out-of-school-time youth development programs, innovation in the K-12 educational system, and, postsecondary readiness and transition. The portfolio is built utilizing both responsive and directed grantmaking approaches. The Program Officer reports directly to Keavy Cook, Director, Children, Youth, and Families.

Photo Credit: Lauren Reber Photography

Focus Areas and Key Responsibilities


  • Strategically deploy all the Foundation’s philanthropic resources – grants, convening, research, technical support, community capacity and more – to inspire, instigate, and leverage change on behalf of rural school-aged youth in Oregon and Siskiyou County;
  • Serve as a thought partner on the Children, Youth and Families’ team to develop program strategies, work plans, and budgets for initiatives that bridge the key transitions from early learning to K-12, and from K-12 to postsecondary preparation (the Foundation intends to increase its investments in the latter transition);
  • Build and maintain a high level of knowledge (current research and best practices) in youth development and K-12 education success in rural communities; and,
  • Champion the importance of youth development and youth agency in rural communities.

Relationship building and collaboration

  • Develop the Foundation’s strategy around improving school success for youth in Douglas County, Oregon working in close partnership with diverse education stakeholders including: students, educators, administrators, civic leaders, the State Department of Education, the Educational Service District as well as national organizations;
  • Represent the Foundation in communities and forums statewide as a champion of quality education and youth leadership in rural communities;
  • Serve as a Foundation liaison to current strategic partnerships; and,
  • Develop opportunities to co-create and collaborate with Foundation peers to more deeply integrate and align efforts, consistent with our new strategic plan.

Grant development and management

  • Build and manage a portfolio of directed/strategic ($6M) and responsive ($2M) grants;
  • Oversee and conduct due diligence for all portfolio grants;
  • Prepare grant recommendations for review at the appropriate staff, committee, or board level;
  • Coordinate complex projects and develop, execute, manage and evaluate strategic community programs; and,
  • Partner with evaluation experts to design a method for monitoring, checking and adjusting the effectiveness of the Foundation’s investments; create and maintain systems to track the progress and ensure that timelines and benchmarks are met.
Photo Credit: Lauren Reber Photography

The Ideal Candidate

The Ford Family Foundation seeks candidates with strong K-12 and youth development expertise who are passionate about promoting childrens’ success and who bring a demonstrated commitment to rural issues and community-based efforts. They are excited to work collaboratively with Foundation peers, community leaders, nonprofit and public sector colleagues, and fellow funders to strengthen the well-being of children and families in rural Oregon and Siskiyou County.

At the local level, the Children, Youth, and Families team works in close partnership with the communities being served. More broadly, the staff coordinates with networks of funders, public agencies, and nonprofits to address local, regional, and state-level systems issues. The successful candidate will possess the political and relational skills required to work effectively with a wide range of leaders, including teachers and school administrators, parents, community residents, technical experts, advocacy organizations, and policymakers.

The Children, Youth, and Families department is committed to having an impact in an arena that is complex and requires a sophisticated level of stakeholder engagement. Candidates must be comfortable with ambiguity and enjoy the challenge of forging a path forward when information is imperfect and milestones may not be clear. They are poised to contribute to a high-performing team that is strengthening the integration of its programmatic work to ensure children are thriving in school, out of school, and at home with their families.

Outstanding interpersonal and communication skills are key. An approachable style, humility, compassion for the children and families being served, empathetic listening skills, and the ability to connect with diverse stakeholders are vital attributes. Candidates should demonstrate good judgment and discretion and be at ease in an external-facing role; skillful handling of multiple relationships is critical. The successful candidate will thrive in a collaborative, collegial, and team-oriented environment where a willingness to “roll up your sleeves” to get the job done is central to the culture.

Roseburg, OR – Photo Credit: Roseburg Tracker

To Be Considered

Candidates must have a minimum of 7 years of experience in the education or youth development field. A bachelor’s degree is required and a graduate degree in a relevant subject such as education, public administration, or policy is preferred.

A current understanding of rural contexts, issues, and challenges is required, as is hands-on experience in K-12, youth development programs, or in education-focused public agencies or technical support groups. Experience in the philanthropic or non-profit sector is preferred. Candidates will be considered from diverse backgrounds that might include foundations, nonprofits, or public sector programs and agencies.

The position is based in Roseburg, Oregon and residency in Douglas County is required and non-negotiable. While Foundation staff have been primarily working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, employees are increasingly returning to the office and it is expected that a full re-opening will take place in early 2022 or as soon as it is deemed safe. Approximately 30% of the time will involve travel within Oregon and Siskiyou County, California. Additional national travel to attend conferences and meetings is anticipated.

The Ford Family Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and all qualified candidates are encouraged to apply. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals to perform essential functions. Please submit your resume and cover letter expressing your interest in the position and fit for the role via the Become a Candidate button. Letters may be addressed to Sarah Meyer.

Program Officer, Youth Development and EducationThe Ford Family FoundationRoseburg, OR

The search for the Program Officer, Youth Development and Education at The Ford Family Foundation is being assisted by a team from GoodCitizen:

Sarah Meyer
Vice President
Direct: 206.792.4221

Keristian Farra
Direct: 206.792.4311