Program Associate, Inclusive Economies

The Surdna Foundation—a national, social justice, family foundation based in New York City—seeks a Program Associate for its Inclusive Economies Program. The Program Associate will report directly to the Program Director for the Inclusive Economies Program on a three-person team that also includes the Program Officer for Inclusive Economies.

About the Surdna Foundation

Created by John E. Andrus in 1917, the Surdna Foundation has assets of more than $1 billion and an annual grantmaking budget of more than $40 million. The Foundation has a staff of 25, based in its Midtown Manhattan offices. The Foundation is governed by a Board of Directors that includes fourth- and fifth-generation Andrus family members, as well as non-family board members. The Surdna Foundation seeks to foster just and sustainable communities in the United States, communities guided by principles of social justice and distinguished by healthy environments, inclusive economies, and thriving cultures.


As one of the oldest family foundations in the country, Surdna is dedicated to ensuring our strategies reflect our longtime commitment to the values of justice, equity, and inclusion.

Furthermore, our ongoing commitment to learning requires constantly examining our own assumptions and having continuous conversations internally and with organizations on the frontlines tackling society’s biggest challenges.

Building on the successes of our ongoing work, we recently set out to examine and refine our program strategies for three reasons:

  • First, to ensure we are being as effective as possible with our valuable, but limited, resources.
  • Second, to identify shared goals across all of our programs to unite our work and foster collaboration.
  • Third, to fulfill our commitment to social justice and a culture of learning.

As part of the strategy-refinement process, we developed an organizational theory of change to:

  • Articulate the Foundation’s high-level vision for the change we seek to achieve;
  • Unite our programs across shared goals; and
  • Identify guideposts to evaluate our work and ensure that all of the Foundation’s efforts—from program-related investments to grantmaking and other initiatives—are demonstrating progress towards these institutional outcomes.

Our theory of change is based on three assumptions:

  • First, that historical and structural racial inequities are at the root of the deeply embedded challenges that communities face across America.
  • Second, that advancing racial equity and addressing power imbalances are critical to solving these challenges and to achieving a more just and sustainable society.
  • And, third, that the best way to address racial inequities and power imbalances is to honor the agency of individuals and communities that are most impacted by injustices. These individuals should be regarded as experts in creating solutions to the systemic issues we aim to solve.

Working from these assumptions, Surdna believes that we can achieve a more just and sustainable society by directing our resources towards grantmaking portfolios that achieve the following three institutional outcomes:

  • Democratic Participation: Supporting communities of color and low-wealth communities to utilize their decision-making and political power to enable self-determination.
  • Building Wealth: Catalyzing capital to support communities of color and low-wealth communities in their efforts to build and sustain wealth, in all its forms, and economic power to achieve a more just and sustainable society.
  • Building Accountability: Investing in the capacity of communities of color and low-wealth communities to hold policymakers and institutions accountable to ensure all community benefits are shared equitably.

About the Inclusive Economies Program

The Inclusive Economies Program is working to foster the creation of an inclusive and equitable economy in which people of color can maximize their potential as leaders, creators, and innovators across sectors. The program seeks to usher in a new economy – a new era of economic growth that is just and equitable – by focusing our grantmaking on efforts that (1) support the development and scaling of businesses owned by people of color, and (2) increase accountability and community voice in economic development planning, policy, and practice. To achieve these goals, Inclusive Economies will invest in two complementary program strategies that are centered on people and systems change: Business Start Up and Growth and Equitable Economic Development.

The Inclusive Economies Program’s goals are to:

  1. Business Start Up and Growth: Foster a more inclusive economy that is driven by greater representation of businesses owned by people of color. We envision these companies to be enterprises that are scalable or seeded in high-growth industries. We believe that with secured growth capital these business founders will flourish to create jobs, establish themselves as industry leaders, and shape the future of the economy.
  2. Equitable Economic Development: Help ensure that the benefits of economic development strategies accrue to communities of color and lower-income populations. We envision more cities and regions that incorporate higher labor and accountability standards into their economic development practices. These standards will establish checks and balances between the public/private sectors and communities that have historically been disconnected from economic development planning and policy.

Position Summary and Responsibilities

The Inclusive Economies Program Associate plays a key role in managing the day-to-day grantmaking activities of a three-person team composed of the Program Director, a Program Officer, and the Program Associate. The position combines program and project management responsibilities with active engagement in grantmaking, relationship management, research, and internal/external communications. It is assumed that the Program Associate will bring a foundational understanding of the various issues and fields at the center of the program strategy and identify an area of work that they want to explore and develop expertise in. This position requires travel to attend site visits and various conferences. Specifically, the Program Associate will be responsible for the following:

Program Related (50%)

  • Spearhead the research and analysis of new issue areas that are relevant to the Inclusive Economies program;
  • Work with the Inclusive Economies team to cultivate, manage and execute a small portfolio of grantees partners;
  • Conduct due diligence tasks for potential grants;
  • Review and analyze grantee progress and related reports;
  • Coordinate and support the management of the program budget;
  • Represent the Inclusive Economies team by participating in a variety of conferences, site visits, and convenings throughout the country; and
  • Produce external and internal facing materials for diverse audiences designed to amplify the Inclusive Economies program and grantee partners, including PowerPoint presentations, blog posts and other related communications materials; and
  • Build and maintain connections with Surdna’s other programs, departments, foundation-wide initiatives, and field partners.

Project Management (50%)

  • Manage scheduling for a high volume of meetings, calls and convenings for the Inclusive Economies Program staff, using traditional and virtual calendaring tools;
  • Provide project management support to the program’s grantmaking process: actively track and manage grant proposals and other related materials through Surdna’s grants management database system, and provide technical support to grantees related to submission processes;
  • Assemble key materials for the Surdna Foundation board and proof grant materials;
  • Provide project management oversight to contractors and consultants;
  • Organize meetings and special events that support the program’s goals;
  • Occasionally support the Office Administrator by covering phone duties;
  • Help design meeting agendas and take notes during team meetings; and
  • Facilitate the payment of invoices and other matters related to accounts payable.

Ideal Experience and Personal Qualities

The ideal candidate is a detail-oriented systems thinker with a commitment to social justice and racial equity.  The candidate is also able to manage several tasks simultaneously and can work comfortably in ambiguity, gather information, draw conclusions, and make recommendations regarding complex problems and issues. They should be able to manage a high volume of email traffic and be adept at proofreading and editing large numbers of written documents in a timely fashion.  The candidate should be a strong team player and place a high value on collaboration with peers and colleagues. The candidate should also be entrepreneurial, possess a high level of initiative, and be comfortable working independently, as well as with peers and colleagues. The candidate will need to be comfortable project managing team workflow, and deadlines– a critical skill for overall team success.


  • BA/BS degree preferred. Experience in a relevant field, interest in the nonprofit sector, and working knowledge of the economic development/economic justice field is highly preferred
  • Minimum of 3 years work experience in a relevant field
  • Previous nonprofit or foundation experience is a plus
  • An understanding and commitment to social justice and building inclusive practices to effect structural change
  • Experience planning events is a plus
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook
  • Excellent analytical thinking, writing, speaking and editing skills
  • A strong team-player, with a diplomatic, professional manner, and a sense of humor
  • Commitment to applying skills broadly within Surdna in support of the foundation’s mission

Compensation & Benefits

  • Salary commensurate with experience; the minimum starting salary for this position based on the Surdna Foundation’s established salary bands is $60,000 annually
  • Excellent comprehensive employee benefits package

How to Apply

Click Here to apply. Deadline for Submissions is: Open until filled.

Surdna Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and strongly encourages applications from people of color, persons with disabilities, women, and LGBTQI+ applicants.