Program Associate: Job Description

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation ("Foundation") is a not-for-profit, grant making organization that believes that the arts and humanities are where we express our complex humanity, and that everyone deserves the beauty, transcendence, and freedom to be found there.  Through its grants, the Foundation seeks 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, Public Knowledge, Arts and Culture, and Humanities in Place.  The Foundation seeks a Program Associate in the Humanities in Place program.

Humanities in Place supports a fuller, more complex telling of our histories and lived experiences by deepening the range of how and where our stories are told and by bringing a wider variety of voices into the public dialogue.  Working in historic and community spaces, and with didactic museums and other institutions, media, and conveners of public experiences—including the digital or ephemeral—we strive to expand the public expression of the histories that have made us and the values and visions we hold.  Our program encourages bold, innovative rethinking of past cultural and spatial practices, and visionary new approaches for how to collectively understand, uplift, and celebrate more complete stories about who we are—in community with one another and in society. 


The Humanities in Place program focuses on elevating the people and places that have been underresourced and at times left out of or diminished in our cultural and historical landscapes and narratives.  Through our work we aspire to bring greater resources and opportunities for expression and recognition to communities that have been historically denied full power so that our shared landscapes better reflect the people who have shaped and inhabited them.  We also seek to make this more complete and complex landscape accessible and understood by our broader society.  Please visit the Foundation's grants database to see all of the grants made through the Humanities in Place program.

Reporting to the Program Officer for Humanities in Place, the Program Associate will participate in all aspects of the Humanities in Place grantmaking and strategy.  Among other responsibilities, the Program Associate will screen, research, and evaluate grant inquiries and concept notes; develop relationships with potential grantees and engage with them in meetings and in written correspondence; help to develop proposal documents; draft internal grant memoranda, presentations, and other documents; and function as grantees' primary points of contact for post-award management and evaluation.  The Program Associate will also work closely with other Humanities in Place staff to ensure the strategic alignment of all work within the program, track program spending, and assess progress and outcomes against program and Foundation strategic goals, and promote the program broadly in the field and in varied community contexts.

The successful candidate will have background in the arts, design, urbanism, preservation, public history, the social sciences, or similar humanities-based fields and bring direct experience with community oriented and social justice-focused work.  Candidates with multidisciplinary and place- or cultural heritage-focused background and experience are preferred.  The candidate will be curious, thoughtful, highly motivated, energetic, collaborative, and congenial, with well-developed written and oral communication skills, top-notch organizational capacity, an ability to work independently and exercise careful discretion. 

This position includes independent work on on-going grantmaking activities, episodic or long-term research projects, collaborative work with colleagues around the Foundation, and administrative work in support of grantmaking out of the Humanities in Place program.  Occasionally, this role will include travel for site visits and meetings, and the development of and participation in internal and external convenings and presentations.  The work of the Program Associate is highly detail-oriented and requires accuracy, the ability to anticipate outcomes, multi-tasking, effective time-management, flexibility, cool-headedness, precision, patience, efficiency, and discretion.

Position Details

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

  • Review and assess grant inquiries
  • Conduct research and outreach to develop inquiries of interest
  • Actively participate in the formulation of new proposals for funding, including advising grantees in preparation and revision of the narrative and financial components of proposals
  • Participate as needed in virtual and in-person meetings and site visits with current and potential grantees, and take and maintain notes on grant and potential grant activities
  • Assist with the drafting and editing of grant recommendations and other program-related materials for the Foundation’s leadership and Board of Trustees
  • Gather information and conduct research regarding the development of new grant initiatives and the review of existing programs
  • Assist in the ongoing development, implementation, and tracking of strategic goals for the program area
  • Assist with planning and coordination of relevant meetings and events (including collecting background or briefing materials) as directed
  • Collaborate with staff in other Foundation program areas and departments as required, including support for cross-program initiatives
  • Monitor performance of the program portfolio—including careful review of all narrative and financial reports—and evaluate requests from grantees for modifications to project scope, timeline, and budget
  • Serve as a resource for grantees and the primary point person for post-award management and relationships including reports, requests for modifications, extensions, and transfers
  • Stay abreast of current events and developments related to the program area, and draw connections to current and potential grant initiatives
  • Occasional travel for site visits with potential or current grantees and for program-related conferences or convenings
  • Represent the Foundation in external settings, including conferences, public meetings, and other engagements as assigned
  • Partner with Communications on public-facing materials about the program and its grantees

Required Skills and Experience

The ideal candidate would hold a bachelor's degree; an advanced degree in humanities, social science, or built environment disciplines, or related fields or equivalent professional experience is preferred.  Applicants should also possess:

  • Commitment to the Foundation's mission, core values, and focus on social justice
  • Demonstrated interest and knowledge in place-based or cultural heritage-focused programs, initiatives, and projects
  • Demonstrated interest in and commitment to advancing social justice through work in the arts and humanities—and in public, community, or institutional spaces
  • Familiarity with practices related to public and community-focused projects and initiatives and an interest in community engagement and inclusion and with a strong sense of ethical practice and empathy
  • Excellent analytical, oral, writing, interpersonal, and organizational skills with precise attention to detail and care
  • Motivated, disciplined, and comfortable working both independently and collaboratively in a high-volume environment with multiple overlapping timelines
  • Commitment to a collegial work environment and to collaboration with colleagues in all the Foundation's program areas
  • An awareness and thoughtfulness of the dynamics of personal and institutional agency, power, and privilege
  • Flexibility, adaptability, and curiosity with the ability to anticipate and solve problems proactively
  • Ability to read and understand organizational budgets
  • A high degree of competency in the MS Office suite; familiarity with web-based technologies and data visualization and analysis applications, or a willingness to learn and experiment is desirable
  • Willingness to travel for the program as needed
  • Spanish language proficiency and a deep and longstanding connection to BIPOC and Latinx communities preferred but not required

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

Contact Information

Candidates should apply by submitting a thoughtful cover letter describing fit for the position together with a resume to:  Humanities in Place Program Associate.  The Foundation will consider each response carefully, but only contact those individuals it believes are most qualified for the position.