Human Resources Specialist

Job Type

Full Time




1750 Columbia Road
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 Human Resources Specialist at the National Office in Washington, D.C.

Position Summary: Higher Achievement's human resources team works collaboratively to attract, engage, and retain the top talent needed to meet our ambitious goals around scholar outcomes. Reporting to the Director of Human Capital Management, the HR Specialist will focus on payroll and benefits, manage the HRIS, and support HR trainings. The HR Specialist will use a customer-service focused mindset to build strong relationships across Higher Achievement's five offices and identify opportunities to better use technology and streamline workflows to support this mission-driven staff.

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 8th grade, 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

Payroll & Benefits

  • Payroll
  • Prepares and submits bi-weekly payroll changes to the Payroll & Accounting Coordinator including new and outgoing employees, change of status, overtime approvals, and changes in deductions, taxes, and benefits
  • Review and approve the bi-weekly payroll as generated by the Payroll & Accounting Coordinator
  • Manages all new enrollments and employee changes in the payroll system, including updating supervisory groups and adding/editing manager accounts
  • Work with the Payroll & Accounting Coordinator and Affiliate Operations Coordinators to ensure timecards are completed on-time and accurately; respond to questions from employees and supervisors related to timecard completion
  • With support from Affiliate Operations Coordinators, coordinate all communication with seasonal employees at start and end of the Afterschool and Summer Academies, including related to timecards, address changes, account information, and I-9s.
  • Coordinates the processing of liens and garnishments with Paycom administration.
  • Revise and implement training materials for all staff and supervisors related to timekeeping and payroll
  • Address questions related to time off accruals for all employees as well as the finance team

  • Benefits
  • Lead open enrollment, including vetting new plans and making recommendations to the COO, communicating with employees, and coordinating with broker for employee training
  • Approve invoices for payment for all benefits programs, including medical/dental, ancillary benefits, and retirement contributions
  • Respond to employee related to benefits, and identify opportunities to improve communication of benefits where applicable
  • Process all paperwork related to leaves of absence and disability insurance
  • Track professional development funds used annually, building systems to better promote targeted opportunities for staff, including evaluation and feedback from staff
  • In partnership with the Manager of Staff Engagement, identify opportunities to promote the benefits and opportunities at Higher Achievement, including in job descriptions and on the Higher Achievement job board

Compliance, Safety, and Training

  • Train and support operations staff in each city in managing new employee paperwork and processes, including I-9s and background checks
  • Maintain up to date knowledge of employment laws and trends in all Higher Achievement cities/states
  • Recommend, create, and lead trainings on employment-related topics, safety, sexual harassment, etc. as needed
  • Act as HR point of contact on worker's compensation matters, including filing and following up with claims and supporting the annual audit
  • Support the DHCM, COO, and National Director of Programs (NDOP) in creating and revising templates for program operations as needed, such as permission slips, incident reports, and safety policies

Operations, Systems, & Staff Engagement

  • Maintain employee personnel files through Zenefits, including Annual and 90 Day Reviews, workplans, salary changes, performance documents, and end of employment paperwork
  • Track all data and interim measures related to Higher Achievement's Staff Engagement/Retention goals
  • Manage all paperwork for non-seasonal new employees, including offer letters and background checks
  • Act as main systems administrator on Zenefits (HRIS) and payroll system, identifying opportunities to use systems more efficiently and to integrate with O365 and Salesforce
  • Maintain content on department's SharePoint site in order to increase access by all staff to core policies and documents

Affiliate Support

  • Respond to all questions from Affiliate staff on a timely basis
  • Use feedback from Affiliate staff to identify opportunities to clarify/revise core documents, systems, and training tools
  • Spend time on site at affiliates, including attending staff meetings and trainings as needed
  • Support the DHCM, COO, and Affiliate Leadership as needed in additional HR or staff engagement-related projects

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
  • Belief in the ability of strong HR practices to support the staff and goals an organization
  • PHR or SHRM-CP certification strongly preferred; degree in HR (bachelor's or master's) a plus
  • Minimum of 3-5 years of experience working directly in HR required; experience working with non-profit or mission-driven organizations strongly preferred.
  • Experience with payroll and benefits management required
  • Working knowledge and understanding of local, state and federal employment regulations, laws, and best practices required; HR experience in a multi-state organization a plus
  • Ability to build strong relationships across remote offices, with a customer-service focused mindset in supporting Affiliate staff
  • Ability to communicate HR practices and requirements to all staff
  • Strong comfort level with technology required, with an ability to identify opportunities to maximize current systems
  • Familiarity with O365, including Sharepoint and Microsoft Forms strongly preferred
  • Experience using HR technology strongly preferred (HRIS, ATS, payroll, etc.)
  • Familiarity with Zenefits, Paycom, and/or Salesforce, a plus
  • Ability to balance a large volume of day-to-day tasks, being responsive to questions from Affiliate staff, and making progress on longer-term projects
  • Ability to look at organizational systems through a lens of equity and inclusion
  • Strong oral and written communication skills, with a high level of attention to detail
  • Ability to travel to affiliate offices as needed.

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 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/seasonal, full-time, exempt position is in the mid to high fifties and is commensurate with skills and experience. Higher Achievement offers competitive benefits, including: company-paid insurance (medical, dental, vision, life, and long and short-term disability insurance); ten paid holidays; five 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. 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. Employee must have visual, auditory, and physical ability to respond quickly to critical incidents involving students and act in an emergency situation.

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

Additional Information: This position primarily works Monday through Friday. Occasional travel to affiliates outside of DC (Baltimore, Richmond, Pittsburgh) required. This position requires a criminal background check prior to hire.

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. 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.

Professional Level


Minimum Education Required

No requirement

How To Apply