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Program Officer - Early Childhood Development and Education, India

Echidna Giving
Full time
Apply by 15 May 2024

Job description

About the Role:

Echidna Giving is seeking a Program Officer to join the Echidna Giving team and take ownership of our Early Childhood Development and Education strategy in India. The Program Officer will be part of a broader team working on ECDE in multiple regions, whose work is coordinated by a team lead. The Program Officer will also engage with other colleagues working in the same region on different thematic focus areas (namely foundational learning and adolescent life skills). They will be responsible for shaping, with approval from the board, our Early Childhood Development and Education grantmaking strategy in India, identifying grantees that align with this strategy, and supporting and overseeing the grant portfolio. The role will entail broader work in service of accelerating progress for grantees and the wider field. By staying current in ECDE research and maintaining awareness of country dynamics, the Program Officer will identify opportunities to accelerate locally-led systems change, offer input to other funders looking to support ECDE in the region, and serve as a global resource on ECDE best practices. S/he will help grantees to expand their impact by offering connections, visibility, and broader support. The Program Officer will oversee an initial grantee portfolio of approximately 15 organizations that they will grow to 20-30 organizations over time.

We are flexible on where the Program Officer is geographically based, but candidates based in India will have the easiest time staying current in their networks, understanding the context, and supporting a grant portfolio without extensive travel. The Program Officer will spend several months in the first year in the Bay Area and travel internationally with the team as part of onboarding. On an ongoing basis, they should expect to spend 4-6 weeks annually in the Bay Area and 8-12 weeks in the countries where our grantees work, adding up to 20-40% travel, depending on whether or not the staff member is based in one of our target geographies.

We are seeking candidates with expertise in at least two of the following three areas:

  1. technical expertise in early childhood development and education
  2. strong networks in India (e.g., with local civil society/NGO organizations and/or government)
  3. experience and networks in philanthropy

Experience or expertise in gender or girl rights would be a significant added benefit.


Develop and Execute Grantmaking Strategy (70%):

  • Develop an India-specific Early Childhood Development and Education-focused strategy, building towards systems change.
  • Administer and support an existing portfolio of approximately 15 grants.
  • Help identify the highest leverage opportunities for advancing Echidna Giving's goals, shaping the way the strategy gets implemented and contextualized.
  • Expand the grant portfolio by identifying new grantees aligned with Echidna Giving's Early Childhood Education strategy, with an emphasis on identifying organizations based in India and led by leaders from India.
  • Review and provide feedback on grant proposals, including assessing programs, outcome metrics, budgets, and leadership capabilities.
  • Write funding recommendations and other materials for the Board.
  • Represent funding recommendations to the Board during quarterly meetings.
  • Act as the primary point of contact for Echidna Giving grantees. Support their work beyond the grant dollars, brokering connections with funders, policymakers, and other organizations in order to amplify their voice and impact.
  • Provide support and feedback to fellow Programs Officers on your unique areas of expertise.

External Relationship-building and Leadership (30%):

  • Develop and maintain strong and trusted relationships with grantees, funders, researchers, policymakers, and other key actors in the ECDE, education, and/or gender equality space.
  • Identify and support creative solutions to enable the success of individual grantees and the portfolio as a whole through collaborative working relationships.
  • Identify and support creative solutions to build and enable strong leadership on ECDE in India.
  • Represent Echidna Giving in key settings that help to support our strategy and goals, e.g., at conferences and meetings, in donor collaboratives, etc.
  • Collaborate with colleagues and consultants at Echidna Giving to help iterate and improve on our internal practices in ways that align with our principles and strategic aims.
  • Stay on top of current research, issues and trends in education and gender equity.
  • Stay abreast of India policy priorities, initiatives, and opportunities for accelerated systems change.


  • We are looking for candidates who have over 12 years of professional experience, including at least 5 years in positions that demand ownership of independent decision-making.
  • Knowledge and expertise in the education sector, specifically early childhood development and education, with a commitment to gender equity in education.
  • Experience or expertise in any of the following areas is a plus: gender transformative education programming, leadership, and organizational development.
  • Strong understanding of and networks in the philanthropic sector.
  • Strong understanding of the political economy in education in India.
  • Strong networks and relationships with education actors in India.
  • Experience in the nongovernmental, governmental, and/or philanthropic sectors with an understanding of how nongovernmental organizations operate.
  • Ability to gather and synthesize information from a variety of sources, identify what is most important to consider and prioritize, and use it to make timely and confident decisions.
  • Hindi language skills.
  • Ability to understand and critically analyze evidence and research methods.
  • Ability to see the "big picture” and translate ideas into practical actions.
  • Ability to clearly and consistently communicate, in English, both verbally and in writing with diverse audiences and in a transparent, timely, and respectful manner.
  • Commitment to Echidna Giving's principles and overarching mission.
  • As a representative, reflect well on and in a manner that is consistent with Echidna Giving's culture and values.
  • Curiosity, interest, and ability to collaborate with people with different perspectives and styles, open to listening to and adapting based on feedback, as well as proven dedication to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Excellent organizational skills and ability to be a self-starter who operates effectively independently, with a demonstrated track record of consistently meeting deadlines.
  • Candidates who are flexible, mature, and have a sense of humor will have the greatest success at Echidna Giving.
  • Work collaboratively, building relationships, trust, and credibility with members of a team, Board, management, and external stakeholders.

About Echidna Giving

Echidna Giving is a private funder with one sole aim: getting more girls into better schools to live better lives. Investing in girls pays dividends for us all: what she learns in school can transform her life, her family, her community, and her nation for generations to come. That's why we're committed to supporting quality, gender-responsive education in lower-income countries. Because when all kids learn equally, our world becomes more equal.

Echidna is one of the largest private funders in the international education space, and we are in significant growth mode. Currently, we have a small but senior team of nine and are looking to double in size in the next 5-7 years. We will grow from our current $30M annual grant budget to $100M in annual granting over that period. (Learn more at www.echidnagiving.org)

Echidna has a strong track record with exceptionally high scores on the Grantee Perception Report, an anonymous survey conducted by the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP). We believe these exceptional scores come from our principles and approach, which is trust-based, respects the importance of context, provides longer-term flexible support, and is service and relationship-oriented. We take pride in putting our principles into practice. In particular, we strive to enact our strong commitment to funding leaders and organizations embedded in the countries in which they work.

Early Childhood Development and Education (ECDE) is one of our key areas of grantmaking to advance girls’ education. In this area of work we are focused on helping expand access to high-quality, gender-responsive early learning opportunities that lay a strong foundation for social, emotional, and academic success, as well as gender equity. You can find more details about our early childhood education strategy here.

It is a particularly exciting time to work at Echidna. Our reputation is strong albeit lower profile. Our work building the field of girls' education has had an impact. We now seek team members who can preserve what is outstanding about our culture and approach while furthering our impact: identifying opportunities for further building the field, driving system change, and enabling the growth in influence of local leaders and organizations.

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