Managing Director of Development and External Affairs

Ascend Learning
Brooklyn, New York
Jan 28, 2019


Ascend Public Charter Schools equips every student with the knowledge, confidence, and character to succeed in college and beyond. Founded in 2007, Ascend manages 12 schools in the Central Brooklyn neighborhoods of Brownsville, Bushwick, Canarsie, East Flatbush, and Cypress Hills, and educates 5,000 students in kindergarten through twelfth grade, with plans to open six additional schools by school year 2022-23. By school year 2024-25, Ascend's student enrollment will have doubled. Ascend is committed to operating truly public schools that enroll and educate all students, fill every vacated seat through grade 9, and operate at current public spending levels. Its established schools have begun to not only close, but reverse longstanding racial and economic achievement gaps.

By offering a rich liberal arts education in a warm and supportive environment, Ascend teachers animate children's natural sense of curiosity and prepare students to think on their own, thrive on their own, and engage the world as informed, responsible citizens.

Ascend's ambitious curriculum and inquiry-based pedagogy fosters independence of thought and intellectual confidence; its innovative positive discipline model, based on Responsive Classroom and restorative practices, builds student agency and social and emotional competencies.

For more information on Ascend, its model, and core values, visit

The Managing Director of Development and External Affairs will propel Ascend's expansion and the enrichment of its educational program by developing and driving its fundraising strategy, representing Ascend to external audiences and engaging a broad spectrum of funders and community leaders in Ascend's mission. Philanthropic funding and a strong external presence will enable Ascend to realizes its central objective of serving 10,000 students by school year 2024-25 and demonstrating a key proof point in urban education reform.

Reporting directly to the President, the position will work closely with Ascend's CEO and officer team and build and manage a growing team, beginning with one or two direct reports. This is an extraordinary opportunity for a sophisticated education leader to apply proven revenue generating and external affairs strategies to an organization dedicated to academic excellence and the development of student agency, social justice, and scalable urban education reform.

The ideal candidate will be a strategic thinker with experience working with a diverse range of external stakeholders, from philanthropy professionals, individual donors, and corporate funders, to community leaders, elected officials, parents, and families. Competitive candidates will have an impressive history of influencing prominent stakeholders to achieve organizational objectives and of securing major support from leading funders. He or she will not only have a deep understanding of best practices in development and external affairs, but also an ability to develop and implement innovative strategies to distinguish Ascend from other CMO's, attract interest in its model, and build relationships with new and existing stakeholders.

Responsibilities include:

Development (70%)
Philanthropic Growth Planning
? Work with the officer team to establish the vision, goals, priorities, and plans for Ascend's fundraising efforts, generating approximately $1M in annual revenue in year one, and dramatically more in years to come
? Develop ambitious yet feasible goals for revenue, donor quantity, and donor retention that enable Ascend to expand to new sites and reach a proof point of 10,000 students (a doubling of its current size) and improve the richness of its academic, arts, and enrichments programs at existing schools
? Design and implement strategies and tactical plans to achieve short- and long-term goals for different donor segments
? Identify novel and creative strategies and revenue streams for Ascend based on Ascend's unique program, its results, and emerging interests in the funding community

Donor Cultivation and Stewardship
? Manage relationships with a growing network of institutional investors and develop a systematic grant-writing and reporting process
? Research and actively engage potential institutional, individual, and corporate donors, while building, expanding, and cultivating Ascend's existing relationships
? Coordinate stewardship activities including, but not limited to, internal/external meetings, school tours, face-to-face solicitations, and cultivation and solicitation events
? Working with Ascend's communications team, ensure the highest quality in fundraising communications and promotional materials, including proposals, applications, correspondence, reports, budgets, and program information

Board Development
? Working closely with the President and CEO, ensure that the Ascend Board of Directors is effectively staffed, expanding and increasingly diverse in membership, supportive of Ascend's ambitious growth, and able to fulfil its oversight and funding responsibilities
? Guide and staff Board committees on development and external affairs
? Identify new Board prospects that will strengthen Ascend's ability to raise philanthropic capital

External Affairs (30%)
External Affairs and Partnerships
? Working closely with the President, engage key government officials and other organizations to influence policy and foster a political environment favorable to Ascend's mission
? Actively participate in the most important city, state, and national conversations about education reform, sharing the success of Ascend schools and the implications of what the organization does and how it does it to promote more effective educational policy
? Make regular public appearances to promote Ascend's mission and methods
? Directly and indirectly through team members, develop a network-wide external partnership strategy that engages local organizations including community-based organizations, local and state governmental agencies, schools, universities, and houses of worship



  • The ideal candidate will possess the following qualifications:
  • At least eight years of experience in related development efforts for a non-profit organization
  • A record of closing of large gifts from foundations and corporations, as well as individual donors
  • Alignment with the education philosophy and core beliefs of Ascend Public Charter Schools
  • Impeccable written, verbal, and presentation skills, with a sharp attention to detail
  • Highly developed interpersonal skills, sharp discernment, and a good judgment
  • Ability to work in a fast-paced environment under tight deadlines, navigating systems and organizations of scale and complexity, without sacrificing thoroughness and detail
  • Excellent organizational skills and experience with process-building, planning and execution, multi-tasking, and self-management
  • A collaborative disposition and alignment to Ascend's collegial culture
  • Dependability, with demonstrated follow-through
  • Familiarity with foundations with interests in New York City is a plus
  • A self-aware leadership style with respect for all members of Ascend's community and its funding partners
  • Bachelor's degree required, advanced degree preferred

LOCATION: Brooklyn, New York

Salary and benefits will be competitive and commensurate with experience.


Ascend Public Charter Schools is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes candidates from diverse backgrounds.


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