Position: Associate Director, Advocacy and Policy
Location: This role will be based out of the CSF office in Delhi.
Founded in 2012, Central Square Foundation is a non-profit philanthropic foundation working with the vision of ensuring quality school education for all children in India. We are driven by a mission to transform the school education system in India with a focus on improving learning outcomes for all children, especially from low-income communities.
Over the past six years, we have closely engaged with leading practitioners, foundations and think tanks in India and around the world on different elements of building high-quality school education. We have supported social entrepreneurs, worked on generating evidence, established collaborative platforms for knowledge building and provided strategic & implementation support to Central and State governments in India.
In the past one year, we have consolidated all our learnings and prioritized on ensuring that all children in India achieve foundational learning by class 3 i.e. attain basic proficiency in literacy and numeracy. We believe that achieving foundational learning is a gateway skill since a child who does not achieve foundational learning in early years is unlikely to catch up in later grades.This is impactful at both an individual and system level as it is directly correlated to increased workforce participation and better life outcomes. It is a key lever in pulling up the entire system’s performance.
In order to achieve this ambitious goal, our strategy looks at this issue holistically, including informing policy, improving classroom instruction, partnering with governments to scale programs, filling gaps in research and incubating high-quality organizations.
About Our Founder – Ashish Dhawan
Ashish Dhawan is one of India’s leading philanthropists and a key voice for education reform in the country. In his corporate stint, he founded and led one of India’s leading private equity firms, ChrysCapital, before shifting tracks about 6 years ago to focus on India’s education transformation. He founded CSF with the mission to improve learning levels of students from low-income communities.
In 2014, he spearheaded the launch of India’s first liberal arts university, Ashoka University, a philanthropic effort of over forty leaders in education and industry.
Ashish currently serves on the board of several other non-profits including Bharti Foundation,Teach For India, Akanksha Foundation, Centre for Civil Society, Janaagraha, India School Leadership Institute, 3.2.1 Education Foundation.
Since inception, one of CSF’s key strengths has been its ability to be a strategic advisor and implementation partner to the government around key levers of education reform. Over the last 6 years, we have extensively worked with the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and its allied institutions (like NCERT, NIEPA, NCTE, etc.), NITI Aayog, Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), as well as over 10 State governments, to provide advisory and implementation support for key government priorities.
Based on our learnings, we realized that enabling robust policy structures is key to achieving any sustainable change in the education ecosystem. Through the Policy and Advocacy team, CSF aims to strengthen the institutional and budgetary commitment to enable universal foundational learning across India. The Associate Director, Policy will provide strategic direction and thought-leadership to the foundation’s policy and advocacy efforts. The Associate Director will collaborate closely with all other teams at CSF and interact with senior advisors in the education sector to leverage their support.
She/he will join a high caliber leadership team with a collective experience of over 70 years working in both corporate and development sector organizations like BCG, Accenture, Citibank,Dasra, NITI Aayog, and National Skill Development Corporation.
The role reports to the Managing Directors at CSF.
Key responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
Create and Lead CSF’s Policy and Advocacy Strategy:
- Create and lead CSF’s policy and advocacy strategy along with the leadership team; attend regular strategy discussions with strategic partners such as Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the foundation’s Advisory Board including Yamini Aiyar (President, Centre for Policy Research), Gulzar Natarajan (Senior Managing Director – Global Innovation Fund and ex-IAS) and Luis Crouch (Chief Technical Officer, RTI).
- Identify and develop meaningful work streams aimed at building political salience for the issue of improving foundational learning (including increasing the expressed, institutional and budgetary commitment by decision-makers as well as amplifying the overall focus of system towards the achievement of foundational learning).
Lead CSF’s Government and Policy Engagements:
- Develop and maintain liaison with elected representatives, key senior public officials, influencers and policymakers at the central and state levels; including senior stakeholders from the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD), NITI Aayog, PMO and State Education departments.
- Conceptualize and lead the preparation of high-quality evidence-based policy briefs, recommendation notes, background papers/ presentations and other targeted materials for meetings and conferences with key government and ecosystem stakeholders.
- Provide project management support to government officials for implementing key strategic initiatives as and when demanded by the projects
- Represent CSF at all policy and advocacy-related forums and meetings with senior public officials, influencers and policymakers at the central and state levels.
Seek and Develop Opportunities to Enable Policy Change:
- Track key policy developments, trends, and key stakeholder priorities at the national and state level; identify relevant windows of opportunity for policy reform.
- Develop hypotheses of policy changes required to enable foundational learning in the country; lead the preparation of high-quality, evidence-backed analysis to support emerging hypotheses.
- Provide support and policy expertise to teams working on areas beyond foundational learning like Education Technology (for example- on the Information and Communication Technology Policy in India).
- Proactively create opportunities to engage with central and state government departments to provide consultative advice, thought partnership and project management support to government officials for implementing key strategic initiatives.
Support CSF strategy and Team-Building:
- Lead and manage a high-quality team and effectively breaking down workstreams and ensuring high outcome-orientation.
- Actively build internal capabilities and supporting team members by sharing learnings, providing feedback, and ensuring their training and development.
- The Policy function as a horizontal will closely partner with all other issue area teams (such as tech and non-tech classroom instruction, public and private governance teams) to identify, influence and deliver policy changes. As a senior leadership member of CSF, the role would involve cultivating and managing relationships across teams to ensure effective communication channels across teams at CSF.
Required Qualifications, Skills and Abilities:
The ideal candidate would be a highly respected leader who has either worked in a strategic philanthropy foundation, political consultancy/advocacy firm, leading NGO or corporate in their government relations, or a strategy consulting firm involved in government advisory.
- Masters’ degree or equivalent in relevant fields: including public policy, management,economics, and social sciences.
- 12+ years of relevant work experience with managerial responsibilities, demonstrating project delivery and team leadership.
- Extensive experience of working on policy change with the government and public-sector stakeholders at the Centre and State levels.
- Demonstrated interest in working in the social sector
- Excellent leadership skills, including the ability to manage multiple projects and diverse teams.
Personal Characteristics and Desired Qualities:
- Keen interest in education and working with the Government/ policy sector at the highest level.
- Ability to thrive in ambiguity, and coordinate the efforts of multiple stakeholders to achieve tangible outcomes.
- Excellent people management skills, with the ability to develop and motivate teams to work towards a common goal.
- Excellent writing and presentation skills, ability to communicate complex ideas in a meaningful way to internal and external stakeholders, especially government stakeholders.
- Operating style suited to working in a small-organization setting, where teamwork and resourcefulness are highly valued.
- Ability to distill insights to create practical recommendations relevant in the public sector.
- Resourceful and tenacious approach to problem-solving, with an attitude to proactively propose options even with limited information.
- High ability to collaborate and actively listen to others, understanding and valuing others’ views.
Remuneration will be competitive with Indian philanthropy pay scales and will depend upon the candidate’s experience levels.