Program Associate: Job Description

The Mellon Foundation ("Foundation") believes that the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity, and we believe that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom to be found there.  Through our grants, we seek to build just communities enriched by meaning and empowered by critical thinking, where ideas and imagination can thrive.  The Foundation makes grants in four core program areas (Higher Learning, Arts and Culture, Public Knowledge, and Humanities in Place).  It seeks a Program Associate in the Higher Learning program.


The Program Associate assists in the review and preparation of materials in the grantmaking process.  Responsibilities include providing various forms of support for the program officers in the grant-making process, monitoring and evaluating the progress of grant-funded activities, communicating with principal investigators and financial directors at grantee institutions, and assisting with preparation of documents for thrice-yearly board meetings.  The Program Associate also contributes as needed to relevant research and evaluation activities, as well as to various collective activities and special initiatives, and helps maintain an effective and collegial work environment.

The successful candidate will be thoughtful, highly motivated, able to anticipate and move forward with various aspects of the program’s workflow, solutions-oriented, collaborative, and congenial, with well-developed writing, communication, and organizational skills.  This position combines independent work on grantmaking activities (such as corresponding with grantees about proposals, reviewing reports, and assisting with preparing recommendations and other materials for trustee meetings), research, and work with colleagues across the Foundation.  The work is highly detail-oriented and requires consistent accuracy, the ability to anticipate outcomes, multi-tasking, flexibility, cool- headedness, self-direction, patience, efficiency, and discretion.

The holder of this position will report to the Director, Senior Program Officers, and Program Officer and work closely with the Senior Program Associates, Program Associates, Program Assistants, and Executive Assistants.

Program Details

Responsibilities may include, but will not be limited to the following:

  • Assist program officers with the development of new proposals for funding, including advising grantees in preparation and revision of the narrative and financial components of proposals.
  • Participate as needed in meetings with current and potential grantees; take meeting notes and maintain notes and records on grant and potential grant activities.
  • Assist in drafting thrice-yearly dockets of grant recommendations and other program-related materials.
  • Carefully review grant reports and requests for modifications, extensions, and transfers and take appropriate actions.
  • In accordance with program guidelines, and Foundation- wide policy and practice, keep grant records in Fluxx, the Foundation's grants management system, up to date and complete.
  • Conduct research in connection with current and new program initiatives.
  • Assist in the preparation of special reports for Trustees, Officers and Executive Staff, and program staff regarding program activities.
  • Help plan and coordinate on- and off-site meetings.
  • Represent the Foundation at events as deemed appropriate to the needs of the program.
  • Collaborate with staff in other programs as required.
  • Work with external consultants and evaluators as needed.


Graduate degree preferred.  However, outstanding candidates without an advanced degree but who have at least several years of grantmaking experience will be considered.

  • Keen understanding of and interest in disciplines in the humanities and humanistic social sciences.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of organizational practices and field-wide trends in higher education.
  • Strong financial literacy. Ability to read and decipher budgets, spreadsheets, and balance sheets.
  • Experience with grants administration strongly desired.
  • Integrity, discretion, and attention to detail.
  • Strong analytical and problem-solving abilities.
  • Ability to work with minimal direct supervision on multiple projects and matters at once, while being a committed team player.
  • 5–7 years of experience in program administration or management, or a related field.
  • Superior research and written communication skills.
  • Excellent analytical, critical thinking, and organizational skills with precise attention to detail.
  • Demonstrated computer skills, including mastery of Microsoft Office suite, particularly Excel, PowerPoint, and Word, and familiarity with web-based technologies.
  • Knowledge of Fluxx is desirable.
  • Commitment to social justice and cultural equity.

The Foundation is an equal opportunity employer that offers a competitive salary, outstanding benefits, and excellent working conditions.

Application Instructions

Candidates should apply by submitting a thoughtful cover letter describing fit for the position together with a resume to:  Program Associate.  The Foundation will consider each response carefully, but only contact those individuals it believes are most qualified for the position.  It is anticipated that the selected candidate will assume the Program Associate position as of July 15, 2022.