The CAFE Group (TCG) is a unique organization within the philanthropic and social innovation spaces in our nation. As one of very few Black-founded and Black-led foundations and 501c3’s, we believe increasing equity in the educational philanthropic ecosystem can generate seismic societal returns. Our theory of change rests on addressing the lack of diversity within this ecosystem alongside the racial disparities in funding and resources.

Together with our Partners, The CAFE Group provides financial and programmatic support to Leaders of Color whose proximity to the challenges allows them to create meaningful and relevant solutions. By leveraging our lived experiences and the genius within our communities, we have created a glidepath from College Intern to Established Leader designed to catalyze lasting systemic change.

It is our unwavering faith in people that is at the heart of what we do and how we do it.

The position is based in Chicago but there is the option to work remotely from another state with intermittent travel to Chicago.

Position Overview:

The 1954 Project seeks to radically redesign how philanthropy connects with Black leaders in education. We identify established leaders of nonprofit organizations in the education sector and select at least five ‘Luminaries’ each year. Our Luminaries lead organizations across the United States that have an incalculable impact on our communities and embody excellence in the areas of Diversity in Education, Innovation in Teaching and Learning, and Pathways to Economic Mobility. Each Luminary receives $1 million in unrestricted funding along with a suite of professional supports.

The Program Director reports directly to and works collaboratively with the Chief Impact Officer to create a vision and strategy for the recruitment, selection, and ongoing support of Luminaries and Beacons (finalists) in alignment with The 1954 Project strategic plan. As the key operational leader of The 1954 Project, the Program Director is responsible for leading and developing all aspects of Luminary selection, executing key sourcing and diligence tasks, and managing the ongoing support and engagement of Luminaries, Beacons, and strategic partner organizations. The Program Director will also serve as a spokesperson for The 1954 Project as requested for internal and external audiences.


Luminary Selection

  • Create, in partnership with the Impact team, and manage the plan for every aspect of the Luminary application and selection process, communications, and informational events.
  • Oversee and manage the diligence process for prospective grantees (organizes site visits, helps to highlight, and tell the story of prospective grantees, etc.).
  • Create comprehensive systems for tracking and managing prospective candidates through every stage of the pipeline.
  • Manage the candidate database including updates, data integrity, and generating reports as needed.
  • Assemble profiles of grantees and work in partnership with the communications team to prepare them for speaking engagements, etc.
  • Effectively communicate the focus areas and funding interests of the 1954 Project to internal and external audiences.
  • Respond to all inquiries about grantmaking and/or status of proposal review.
  • Independently resolves routine reporting problems and administrative issues.

Ongoing Luminary Network Building

  • Oversee and manage The 1954 Project Network - the community of alumni Luminaries and Beacons (I.e., finalists) selected.
  • Leverage the Network to influence how traditional philanthropy interacts with Black leaders in education, and share information with the Network regarding best practices and help accelerate excellence across the education landscape in our nation.
  • Determine and implement systems for maintaining connections to all applicants to The 1954 Project.
  • Design and manage the suite of wrap-around supports for Luminaries and Beacons (i.e., organizational development supports, community building activities for grantees that help to build their identity as a 'cohort' and gain their insights), including vetting and hiring external entities to deliver content or support programming as needed.
  • Collect Luminary and Beacon data, information, stories of impact, etc., to be shared with internal and external audiences.

Grant Administration

  • Work in partnership with the Chief Impact Officer and key members of the senior leadership and finance teams to manage grantee reporting requirements, including status of multi-year grants, grantee organizational changes, and fulfillment of all grant contingencies on a quarterly basis.
  • Develop and generate reports for Leadership Council/Board presentations and to inform grant-making activities.

Core Competencies:

  • The ability to plan and deliver oral and written communications that make an impact and persuade their intended audiences.
  • The ability to gain others’ support for ideas, proposals, projects, and solutions.
  • The ability to develop, maintain, and strengthen partnerships with others inside or outside the organization who can provide information, assistance, and support.
  • The ability to anticipate the implications and consequences of situations and take appropriate action to be prepared for contingencies.
  • The ability to take responsibility for one’s own or one’s employees’ performance, by setting clear goals and expectations, tracking progress against the goals, ensuring feedback, and addressing performance problems and issues promptly.
  • As a team member, the ability and desire to work cooperatively with others on a team; as a team leader, the ability to demonstrate interest, skill, and success in getting groups to learn to work together.


  • Bachelor’s degree and/or 5 to 7 years program management experience
  • Demonstrated experience in a program management role, working closely with executive staff, resulting in the development and implementation of creative, effective organizational and programmatic strategies.
  • Significant experience in or knowledge of non-profit programs and systems, compliance, and granting reporting.
  • Experience in overseeing project needs, including project funding, staffing, professional development, and support activity.
  • Excellent supervisory and team member motivation skills
  • Demonstrated leadership ability, team management, and interpersonal skills.
  • Demonstrated project management skills and the ability to oversee planning towards producing stated outcomes of a project.
  • Oversee all evaluation processes, ensuring all steps are implemented as prescribed.
  • The ability to implement a structured program improvement process and use data to create substantial, long-lasting programs.
  • Excellent analytical and abstract reasoning skills plus excellent organization skills
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Demonstration of excellent MS Office skills- Excel, Word, and PowerPoint Proficient in Microsoft Office applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
  • Comfortable working in an ambiguous environment

A shared belief in the values of The 1954 Project:

o   We acknowledge the importance of history and the long-standing legacy of diverse Black leaders fighting for educational equity;

o   We center the perspectives of those working deeply with communities;

o   We take an asset-based approach, celebrating unique and often undervalued perspectives;

o   We believe in the power of intergenerational learning; and

o   Our work is grounded in joy and fueled by our love for the Black community.


This is an outstanding opportunity to lead the CAFE Group's signature program in collaboration with the Chief Impact Officer. The successful candidate will earn up to 120k annually, depending on experience. The CAFE Group offers a generous benefits package including medical, dental, vision, a matching 401k retirement savings plan, 15 paid time off days plus 9 company holidays per year, and a hybrid work environment.

The CAFE Group is a safe space for all, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, country of origin, religion, or ability.  The CAFE Group is a 501(c)3 and an Equal Opportunity Employer that strives to have a diverse team representative of the community of leaders it serves. Candidates from diverse backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply.

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