Director, Belonging, Meaning, Wellbeing & Purpose (BMWP)

The Aspen Institute
Washington D.C.
$160,000 - $180,000 per year
Aug 30, 2022
Oct 04, 2022
Full Time

The Aspen Institute

The Aspen Institute is a global nonprofit organization committed to realizing a free, just, and equitable society. Since its founding in 1949, the Institute has been driving change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most critical challenges facing communities in the United States and around the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has a campus in Aspen, Colorado, and an international network of partners.

Commitment to Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

To achieve our mission of a more free, just, and equitable society, we commit to working proactively to advance the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion across our myriad endeavors such as the recruitment, compensation, training, and advancement of staff. The best people-serving institutions make this commitment, and we seek to be a leader in the ways that we do so and learn from others. Visit our website to learn more about our commitment and recent actions taken toward building and nurturing a diverse and inclusive environment.

About the Forum for Community Solutions and Opportunity Youth Forum:

The Forum for Community Solutions (FCS or Aspen), a program of the Aspen Institute, launched the Opportunity Youth Forum (OYF) in 2013 as part of its vision to build a future where communities create their own vibrant and lasting solutions to the social and economic challenges they face, rooted in the belief that if communities have more power to lead change, we will create a more just and equitable society. To this end, the mission of FCS is to promote collaborative, community-based efforts that build the power and influence of those with the least access to opportunity. We support communities to come together to expand mobility, eliminate systemic barriers, and create their own solutions to their most pressing challenges.

The goal of the Opportunity Youth Forum is two-fold: 1) to build strong evidence of success for utilizing the collective impact community collaboration strategy to build and deepen pathways that achieve better outcomes in education and employment for Opportunity Youth, and 2) to make the case for increased adoption of collective impact and community collaboration as an effective model for community change. The OYF supports a network of more than 40 urban, rural, and tribal communities in their efforts to scale reconnection pathways that achieve better outcomes in postsecondary education and employment for opportunity youth. The OYF is the first funding collaborative developed and led by the Forum for Community Solutions. To accomplish these goals, the Opportunity Youth Forum has identified seven areas of work that community partners will take on as part of this initiative. The seven areas of work are as follows: Collaborating for Impact; Building Effective Pathways; Rigorous Measurement and Impact; Leveraging Funding to Support and Sustain Innovation; Developing Supportive Policies; Youth Leadership and Engagement; and Equity (cultural equity, racial equity, and gender justice).

Basic Function:

This purpose of this position is to lead and grow the next phase of equity work across the OYF national network. This role will guide the investment in, and expansion of system change, and program-level interventions aimed at centering belonging, meaning, wellbeing and purpose into opportunity youth serving efforts. This position will also help to identify and spur the adoption of BMWP strategies across the national network and broader field leading to systemic changes in education and workforce development that ensure all young adult have an equitable opportunity to achieve their potential. In addition, the position will work with the OYF team to raise resources and build the BMWP field by lifting-up best practices and lessons learned that can be shared across the movement.


Field Building and Convening the Network(s):

  • Design and lead investment strategies aimed at expanding BMWP pathways for opportunity youth, including ecosystem strategies and program level interventions
  • Develop a community of practice for grantees and other partners to share and exchange key learnings associated with BMWP interventions, including integrating learning into convenings of the OYF national network
  • Collaborate with Managing Director, Executive Director, and implementation partners to co-lead programmatic design for OYF learning agenda and learning strategies/tools and delivery of technical assistance to grantees
  • Cultivate OYF knowledge for internal and external audiences, including contributing to written products including briefs and whitepapers; track, capture information about, package, and disseminate information about emerging program-related research and promising program models
  • Design and lead implementation of new funds under OYF, including RFP design and grant management, and implementing and managing learning communities of practice. Support or co-lead design and implementation of other OYF initiatives, as needed
  • Convene and connect a broad and diverse set of Opportunity Youth Forum Communities, young people, systems leaders and funders, while growing the network, including aligning with other networks to expand and deepen equity goals of the OYF
  • Partner with OYF team to continue to center the voice of youth and young adults in solution-design, including the implementation of a robust learning agenda focused on the infusion of belonging, meaning-based interventions, wellbeing, and purpose across the network
  • Establish metrics and data to measure the impact and success of integrating BMWP into the OYF national network, including finalizing definitions to catalyze the work and align the field

Investing in Belonging, Meaning-making, Well-being, and Purpose:

  • In partnership with the Senior Team, help secure new investments to expand the portfolio of BMWP grant-making, including growing the collaboration of funders committed to investing in program-level interventions and system change strategies
  • Center belonging, meaning, well-being and purpose within OYF member communities – including a subset of priority places - and in the systems and structures in those communities, demonstrating systems change and impact at scale in place
  • Invest in promising and new strategies, models, and prototypes to grow the evidence-base and begin to scale what works in meaning-making, well-being and purposeful pathways
  • Target a sub-set of investments to support belonging, meaning, well-being and purpose strategies for young people and with the systems that reflect extraordinary barriers to opportunity, such as education, child welfare, justice, workforce development postsecondary and others
  • Establish an Advisory Council of cross sector partners to support the research and learning agenda co-created with key organizations like the Whole Health Institute, JFF, and funders in the OYF Leadership Council funder collaborative
  • Design investments strategies aimed at expanding network convenings, youth engagement, a research agenda, and systems and narrative change
  • Manage multiple consultant partners in the implementation of the deep work on belonging, meaning and purpose
  • In partnership with Managing Director and Executive Director, manage the diverse funder advisory group and community of practice within the OYF Funders Leadership Council
  • Partner with OYF Team members on aligned strategies such as youth engagement, connecting this work with the OYF Native, Indigenous and Tribal communities and Community of Practice, partnering with OYF data, learning, and communications colleagues

Expanding Narrative and Systems Change Efforts:

  • Inform the design of communication and narrative change strategies to leverage the various platforms of the Aspen Institute – including developing strategic partnerships to shift national and state-level conversations to prioritize belonging, meaning, well-being and purpose, in partnership with OYF Communications Lead
  • Connect grantmaking, research and learning work to a call-to-action strategy that can change narrative(s)
  • Partner with OYF team members and a host of national research, communications, and advocacy organizations, along with young people and other partners to document solutions and share best practices

Knowledge, Education & Experience Requirements:

  • Deep knowledge and experience in opportunity youth, education, workforce systems and in economic and social mobility strategies and approaches
  • Deep experience in collective impact, strategic planning, and project management
  • Experience designing learning agendas, working with national partners, investing in communities, and designing/facilitating cross-network learning

The successful candidate will possess the following traits:

  • Lived experience that is proximate to the issues of structural and systemic racism and values related to fostering belonging, inclusivity, equity, justice, accountability and love
  • Past experience in developing and/or working in racial and/or gender equity initiatives is preferred
  • Be a lifelong learner with a true curiosity and commitment to finding more effective ways to re-engage opportunity youth and young adults and to change the systems that contributed to their disconnection
  • Collaborative spirit and ability to reach consensus with a wide-range of constituencies and that prioritizes relationship building, trust, co-creation, shared learning and knowledge exchange as key ingredients for system transformation
  • Ability to dive into details of a project when needed and synthesize learnings to inform design of national learning agenda
  • Minimum of eight to ten years of related experience, preferably in the nonprofit sector with track record of effective management, accomplishment, and growth; advanced degree is a plus, college degree required
  • Superior ability to quickly review, analyze, and summarize research reports and articles on issues relevant to the Opportunity Youth Forum's work
  • Strong program planning and administrative skills; the ability to plan, organize and follow through with staff and a variety of constituencies
  • Ability to work with diverse audiences
  • Thrives in high-performing environment
  • Strong customer service orientation: patience, listening, resourcefulness, and attention to detail
  • Strong demonstrable writing and editing skills
  • Experience with publications production and dissemination helpful
  • Entrepreneurial spirit and drive
  • Ability to work autonomously and with a small team
  • Attention to detail and ability to manage multiple tasks
  • Good interpersonal skills, including a desire to learn, sense of humor, and creativity
  • Willingness and ability to travel

To Apply:

Please go to the Aspen Institute website and follow the instructions to submit a cover letter and CV. All applicants must submit a resume and cover letter highlighting applicant's specific qualifications for the position. No inquiries will be accepted.

The Institute has implemented a mandatory COVID vaccination policy for all employees who will work at one of our physical locations, attend any of our in-person events or travel on behalf of the Institute. Staff unable to be vaccinated may request an exemption under certain circumstances.

The Aspen Institute is an Equal Opportunity Employer and complies with all District and federal laws. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, or protected veteran or disabled status and will not be discriminated against.


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