Programme Officer – Learning Differences Programme

Deadline for application: 1 May 2021

Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Reporting to: Director, Learning Differences

Job Status: Full-time position/ permanent contract


Oak Foundation ( is family-led and reflects the vision and values of its founders. We commit our resources to address issues of global, social and environmental concern, particularly those that have a major impact on the lives of the disadvantaged.

In all its work, Oak pursues rights-based approaches, gender equality and partnership with the organisations we fund. We support civil society as a pillar of democracy and justice and nurture innovation and visionary leadership within it. We value diversity both within Oak and among our partners; we seek to be inclusive, flexible, and engage with different points of view. We believe that the best grant-making reflects both careful due diligence and the willingness to take risks.


The resources of Oak Foundation originated from an interest in the Duty Free Shoppers business which Alan Parker helped to build. Today, the Foundation comprises a group of philanthropic organisations based in various countries around the world.

Oak Foundation was formally established in 1983. Early grants were made in Denmark to organisations supporting single mothers and torture victims (1983) and in Zimbabwe to groups supporting vulnerable children and families, primarily at community levels (1984). Grants continued to be made annually in several countries until a new phase for Oak Foundation began in the early 1990s, when annual grant-making increased and staff were hired to run substantive programmes.

Since then we have been growing steadily and today we have 11 programmes, through which we have made more than 4,000 grants to organisations around the world. Our six main programmes are: Environment, Prevent Child Sexual Abuse, Housing and Homelessness, International Human Rights, Issues Affecting Women, and Learning Differences. In addition our Trustees support causes that fall outside the remits of the other programmes through the Special Interest Programme. There are also four national programmes: Brazil, Denmark, India, and Zimbabwe.

Oak Foundation has its main administrative office in Geneva, Switzerland and a presence in five other countries: Denmark, India, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Zimbabwe.

Learning Differences Programme

We believe that together we can build a world in which schools unlock the creativity and power of every young person and equip each one to shape more just and equitable communities. We believe that every student should benefit from engaging and rigorous educational opportunities regardless of personal and social identifiers that privilege some students and marginalise others.  In our work, we are particularly focused on efforts that support students with learning differences who experience marginalisation due to racism and poverty and are committed to engaging with and transforming unjust systems that perpetuate inequity. Our grantee partners rethink ways learning happens for students and better prepare adults to engage and support all students. We support research, the translation of research to educator practice and systems change efforts that promote more equitable learning outcomes for the most marginalised students. Please visit our website for a complete description of the programme’s strategy and current portfolio of grantees. In addition to supporting the work of our partners, the Learning Differences Programme team is actively working to build our internal culture to support and advance our commitment to racial equity and justice.


The Foundation seeks to hire a Programme Officer to join the Learning Differences programme team based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. With an appreciation for the ethos and complexity of the Foundation and focused on realising the founders’ vision and providing high-value partnership, the Programme Officer will:

  • manage and build a grants portfolio by conducting extensive outreach and rigorous due diligence, including review of grantee budgets and financial statements, to identify, prepare recommendations for funding and then support grantees through on-going communications, site visits, progress monitoring and supporting adaptations to achieve desired impact;
  • identify and establish partnerships within non-profit, policy and philanthropic sectors to inform grant-making;
  • remain up-to-date on emerging issues, trends, and research related to supporting students with learning differences who are furthest from opportunity because of racism and other structural inequities; participate in and/or help to organise meetings of external stakeholders when needed, including grant recipients, subject matter experts, co-funders, and others;
  • contribute to the learning processes of the programme by collaborating with Oak’s Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning advisor to use data and knowledge gathered in the field to inform learning and grantmaking; help plan and facilitate learning opportunities for grant recipients and support grant recipients to monitor and track the impact of projects funded;
  • support programme communications both internally at Oak, with grantee partners, and the education field more broadly by assisting with the preparation of relevant reports, such as monthly, bi- annual and annual reports and newsletters, and coordinating and/or leading webinars to share grantee efforts and promote learning, and
  • once travel resumes post-pandemic, travel regularly for site visits, field meetings, and grant development (approximately 25% of time); some international travel may be required.


The Programme Officer, Learning Differences Programme, role is right for you if you approach your work with humility and curiosity, think creatively, and meet challenges with initiative and a range of solutions. You have a propensity for thoughtfully considered, well-planned risk-taking, and you are an adept communicator, highly collaborative and have:

  • deep commitment and analytical clarity about racial equity and other frameworks necessary to operationalise a rights-based approach and achieve our strategic vision;
  • knowledge of and commitment to improving public education to better serve the most marginalised students;
  • the maturity and temperament to work successfully at the nexus of service and autonomy;
  • a combined ten or more years of relevant education and/or experience in teacher development/learning; learning science; global education policy and practice; educational equity; education policy; and/or classroom teaching;
  • excellent project management and organisational skills; self-driven to meet deadlines, ensure follow-up and pursue multiple projects simultaneously;
  • excellent critical thinking and analytical skills;
  • excellent written and verbal presentation skills and the ability to communicate with diverse audiences in diverse contexts;
  • a participatory, transparent, and inclusive work ethic;
  • commitment to individual and team growth, learning, and development;
  • an innovative thinking orientation and a pragmatic and solutions-oriented mindset;
  • demonstrated commitment to the values of Oak Foundation, and
  • US citizenship or valid work permit.

Candidates with experience in research, measurement, evaluation and learning are of particular interest.


The Programme Officer will report to Heather Graham, Learning Differences Programme Director.


The Learning Differences programme team is based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and the Programme Officer will join them there. Currently all Oak staff in the United States are working remotely due to the Covid-19 pandemic.


A competitive package of remuneration and benefits will be provided including relocation to the Chapel Hill area, if needed.


The review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled. For best consideration, please submit a tailored cover letter and resume to by 1 May 2021.


Oak Foundation is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, as detailed in our child safeguarding policy. We expect all staff to share this commitment. Please note that the successful candidate will undergo reference checks and a criminal background check  prior to starting employment.

Oak Foundation is an Equal Opportunity Employer for all qualified job applicants without regard to race colour, religion, national origin, ancestry, sex, age, marital/partnership status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, and any other attributes protected by law. The Foundation abides by all applicable rules and regulations in its recruiting and employment practices, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and state disability laws.

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