Job Posting

Program Officer, Catalyst Fund: Health, Human Services and Education, The Barra Foundation

April 01, 2019
Location: Wayne, PA

The Organization                                                    

The Barra Foundation is an independent private foundation that invests in innovation to inspire change that strengthens communities. Barra supports the efforts of creative thinkers and bold organizations that are tackling problems and seizing opportunities in new and different ways. Barra annually grants approximately $4 million to address the needs of economically disadvantaged individuals and communities in the Greater Philadelphia region and to promote a vibrant cultural community. In addition to grants, Barra has begun to utilize impact investing as part of its overall strategy.


Barra’s two primary grant programs are the Catalyst Fund and Barra Awards. The Catalyst Fund supports ideas and initiatives in their early stages of development. Barra recognizes the need to provide financial support for risk-taking; challenges to old assumptions; and new models for accomplishing important work in the social sector. The Barra Awards acknowledge and advance the work of exemplary nonprofits. Organizations are recommended to the Foundation by a diverse pool of nominators—primarily their peers in the nonprofit sector—and awardees receive multi-year, unrestricted funding.


Barra’s grantee network is made up of approximately 75 organizations (40 Barra Awardees and 35 Catalyst Fund grantees), spanning five counties and four interest areas: Arts & Culture, Education, Health, and Human Services. Barra places a strong emphasis on learning, sharing and connecting and seeks to match people to resources and ideas in a way that will help further innovation in our region. This aspect of their work, referred to as “Beyond the Money” can take a variety of forms: from grantee learning events, to leadership exchanges to opportunities to build evaluation capacity.


Barra’s Wayne, PA office will relocate to Center City by January 1, 2021.


Position Overview

The Program Officer (PO) oversees Catalyst Fund grants in Health, Human Services and Education and reports to the Program Director, Catalyst Fund.  They play an active role in the nonprofit community in order to learn about and identify projects that fit the Foundation’s mission and have the potential for significant impact in their fields. The PO provides support to grantees throughout the life cycle of their grant, typically 12 months to three years in length, helping to ensure successful completion of the project, and often its evaluation and dissemination.




Primary Responsibilities

  • Develop and manage a portfolio of Catalyst Fund grants in Health, Human Services and Education, including reviewing Letters of Inquiry (LOIs) and applications, performing due diligence, preparing written summary descriptions of grant recommendations for Barra’s board, communicating regularly with grant applicants and grantees, serving as a resource and connector.
  • Develop and maintain a network of consultants and experts to evaluate proposals and support individual Catalyst Fund grantees.
  • Develop and maintain learning plans, reporting and performance measures to track the progress of grantees in each interest area; also assist in assessing Catalyst Fund portfolio level progress.
  • Utilize the Foundation’s online grants management system to track information, generate reports and analyze data.
  • Assist in designing and maintaining transparent, standardized and easily accessible systems to capture lessons learned and share information from past grants.
  • Recommend and develop grant stories for publication on Barra’s website, email and social media.
  • Assist in future evaluations of the grant portfolio.
  • Manage relevant consultants to assist with initiatives.
  • Stay current on key issues in the relevant subject areas.
  • Attend and participate in quarterly Board of Director meetings.
  • Represent Barra at conferences and meetings and give presentations, where appropriate.
  • Practice participatory philanthropy, engaging grantees, staff, and colleagues in the design and improvement of programs.



  • Strong and diverse experience in Health, Human Services and Education, and a solid understanding of how nonprofit organizations operate.
  • Prior experience working for a nonprofit organization.
  • Knowledge about innovation practice in philanthropy and the nonprofit sector.
  • Strong analytic and communication skills, ability to write clearly and succinctly, and to make well-organized verbal presentations.
  • The ability (through analysis, evaluation, informal research, and site visits) to determine the feasibility of submitted proposals.
  • The skills to work collaboratively with grantees throughout proposal development and implementation.
  • Eagerness to learn how to incorporate impact investing into work with grantees where appropriate.
  • The ability to think creatively and strategically about Barra’s broad goals while remaining focused on the details and follow through required.
  • Excellent project management skills.
  • Solid interpersonal skills; ability to work effectively as a member of a team.
  • Demonstrates good judgment and integrity.
  • Savvy about applying the use of technology to capture, manage and disseminate information; proficient computer skills with knowledge of MS Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
  • Bachelor’s and Master’s degree preferred but not required.
  • Five or more years of relevant experience in nonprofit management, public policy, or related field. A candidate with prior grant-making experience is desirable but not required.


Personal Qualities  

The successful candidate will be smart, energetic, flexible, personable, motivated, confident and humble. They enjoy working in a small, fast-paced, multi-task, office environment. They will have the ability to work both independently and as a team member in a collegial workplace where dialogue and discourse are expected and encouraged.  They will be able to work creatively with prospective, current and past grantees.  A sense of humor and a constructive outlook are a plus.



Ability to travel occasionally to conferences and meetings.



Competitive compensation package, including base salary and benefits package will correspond to the experience level and credentials of the candidate.



The Barra Foundation 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