Manager of Innovation and Research

Job Type

Full Time




1750 Columbia Road
District of Columbia
United States


Higher Achievement, a nationally acclaimed nonprofit organization working to close the achievement gap for motivated, yet underserved students from low-income communities, seeks a Manager of Innovation and Research at the National Office.

SUMMARY OF POSITION: The overall goal for the Manager of Innovation and Research (MIR) is to lead program learning across all Higher Achievement’s operations—specifically focusing on learning from pilots and implementation of the organization’s new strategic plan. As part of the National Program Team, the MIR will be principally focused on distilling learnings from external research and internal testing. This role will be primarily responsible for turning these data points into action—working closely with the National Director of Programs to use these data points to enhance and prioritize staff trainings and resources, as well as to guide decisions on scaling successful pilots and driving the work of our strategic plan. This role will be the owner of evaluating Higher Achievement pilots (past and present) and working with Higher Achievement staff across all affiliates to evaluate future pilots to deepen organizational learning.

In order to be successful in this position, the Manager of Innovation and Research should possess strong data analysis skills as well as a deep understanding of effective practices for summer and afterschool programming.

The Organization

Higher Achievement works to close the achievement gap for motivated, yet underserved, students from low-income communities. We intervene during the critical transition to middle school by providing year-round, multi-year support for students in the 5th – 8th grades. As they prepare to graduate from the 8thgrade, we help them transition successfully to advanced high school programs that keep them on track for college. On average, 96% of Higher Achievement scholars who complete the program advance to top academic high school programs and 94% advance to college.

Founded in 1975 in Washington, DC as a grassroots effort to create learning opportunities for children in low-income neighborhoods, Higher Achievement has impacted the lives of more than 10,000 young people, and currently operates achievement centers in Washington, DC, Alexandria, VA, Baltimore, MD, Pittsburgh, PA, and Richmond, VA. Higher Achievement’s model of rigorous academic mentoring, individualization of services, and comprehensive academic support is guided by leading research for effective out-of-school time programs. Our focus on the middle school transition, academic rigor, and multi-year, year round exposure distinguish us from other programs. Higher Achievement's partnership model was recently highlighted by the Harvard Family Research Project, and the organization's focus on preventing summer learning loss was featured in an MSNBC special report, "Making the Grade". In 2011, we received the MetLife Innovator in Afterschool Award for Aligning Afterschool with the School Day, further highlighting the strength of our program. More information about Higher Achievement may be found at:

Key Duties and Responsibilities

Core Program Operations

  • Co-design and implement Higher Achievement’s research and development function, including developing clear hypotheses and methods of testing them, synthesizing learnings, and continually improving our programming using the “Plan-Do-Study-Act” cycle
  • Create a framework to get ongoing feedback from stakeholders (especially scholars, families, mentors) and use their input to guide innovation
  • Share lessons learned internally and externally, link with other staff to ensure lessons improve training and practice
  • Evaluate program pilots (both current and historic) to distill learnings about program innovations and guide practice moving forward, working closely with the National Director of Programs to disseminate these learnings and put them into action
  • Develop a communications plan to disseminate learnings from pilots and external research to affiliate and national senior leadership on a regular basis

External Program Research

  • Stay up to date on relevant external research and practice by reading, visiting other organizations, attending and presenting at conferences
  • Serve as the project manager and primary contact with external researchers, leading regular check-ins with researchers, serving as a liaison between researchers and Higher Achievement staff, and ensuring that we maximize investments with external researchers
  • Alongside the Senior Data Analyst, serve as project support for MDRC’s implementation study of Higher Achievement, effectively communicating with frontline program staff and MDRC to ensure successful completion of evaluation that meets Higher Achievement’s needs and provides valuable and actionable information
  • Alongside the Chief Strategy Officer, serve as the Higher Achievement project support for AIR’s study of Higher Achievement’s Social and Emotional Learning practices—helping to frame the evaluation, coordinate site visits, and review final products and materials to ensure they are useful for internal trainings and external dissemination
  • Ensure that Higher Achievement distills and acts on external research findings
  • Support the Chief Strategy Officer in developing and managing an evaluation advisory board composed of external researchers to review past, current, and potential future research projects.

Strategic Plan Implementation

  • Work in close collaboration with the National Program Team to develop pilots and internal evaluations related to Higher Achievement’s strategic plan—develop testing hypotheses at the beginning of pilots and evaluate and report on these hypotheses and findings at regular intervals
  • Develop a framework for testing pilots based on the “Plan-Do-Study-Act” cycle that gets built into Higher Achievement’s organizational culture and standardized materials
  • Serve as the lead for key strategic plan data analysis, including research into high school landscapes and available support for alumni across our affiliates
  • Use lessons from pilots to make recommendations for how to refine initiatives and guide decisions on which pilots to expand

The duties listed above are intended only as illustrations of the various types of work that may be performed. The omission of specific statements of duties does not exclude them if the work is similar, related, or a logical assignment to the position.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

  • Commitment to the mission and work of Higher Achievement
  • Experience in conducting program evaluations and using metrics to track quantitative and qualitative data
  • A background in urban education, an understanding of effective practices in out-of-school time and/or summer learning are a plus
  • Extraordinary organizational skills: be extremely reliable and responsive, with strong time management skills
  • A track record of providing succinct, yet thorough feedback for areas of strength and opportunities for growth
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills with an ability to distill key learnings, action steps, and priorities for the intended audience
  • A keen eye for details and ability to track information quickly
  • Ability to balance competing priorities and projects in a fast paced environment
  • Ability to oversee interviews and focus groups with youth and adult participants preferred
  • Experience in design and modification of program logic models / theory of change (or similar planning documentation)
  • Experience with spreadsheets, statistical software packages, and databases
  • Familiarity with youth development programming such as tutoring, counseling, case management, job development, and/or college access, among others

Higher Achievement Core Competencies: Higher Achievement believes that the following core competencies enable our employees to be successful, and as such, we expect that competitive applications will be able to demonstrate strengths in these areas:

  • Proactively builds relationships to advance Higher Achievement's mission.
  • Uses candid communication to express ideas and to listen to the thoughts and feedback of others.
  • Persistently pursues excellence by holding oneself to high expectations and seeking the best.
  • Possesses a growth mindset for learning new things and stepping out of one’s comfort zone.
  • Maintains a solutions-oriented mindset during planning periods and when challenges arise.

Compensation and Benefits: The salary for this regular, full-time, exempt position is in the fifties and is commensurate with skills and experiences. Higher Achievement offers competitive benefits, including: company-paid insurance (medical, dental, vision, life, and long and short-term disability insurance); ten paid holidays; six weeks paid time off; retirement plan with company match; tuition reimbursement and professional development funds.

Physical Requirements and Work Environment: Work is regularly performed in an office environment and a school setting. Employee may spend long periods of time sitting, standing, and walking. Must be able to walk from one part of the worksite to another and climb stairs. Employee regularly lifts, carries, and positions objects weighting up to 20 pounds. Position involves regular use of a computer and keyboard, telephone, and face-to-face communication in small and large group settings with youth and adults; employee must be able to communicate clearly and professionally in all of these situations.

Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

Additional Information: The Manager of Innovation and Research will work out of our National Office in Washington, DC and primarily works Monday through Friday. Regular travel is required to Higher Achievement’s Affiliate offices (DC, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Richmond). This position requires a criminal background check prior to hire, and candidate must be able to pass all additional clearance requirements as mandated by school districts and state/local municipalities.

Professional Level

None specified

Minimum Education Required

No requirement

How To Apply

To Apply: Visit Higher Achievement’s website, Interested applicants must upload a resume and cover letter. Priority consideration will be given to applicants who address the listed qualifications and their interest in the mission and work of Higher Achievement. The initial deadline for applications is April15, 2018; interested applicants are encouraged to apply immediately. Please, no phone calls, emails or recruiters.

Higher Achievement provides equal employment opportunities to all employees and applicants without regard to race, color, ethnicity, religion, national origin, ancestry, gender, sex, gender identity or expression, age, medical condition, sexual orientation, marital status, citizenship, pregnancy, physical or mental disability, genetic information, veteran status, military status, caregiver or family status, political affiliation, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state, or local laws