Arlington-based Communities In Schools helps students stay in school and make the right choices – by connecting them and their schools with needed community resources. As the nation’s leading dropout prevention organization, we serve nearly 1.5 million students in more than 2,300 schools. By bringing resources, services, parents and volunteers into schools, we create a community of caring adults who work hand-in-hand with educators to make sure young people have the tools they need to stay in school and achieve in life.
Communities In Schools has been recognized for its sound business practices and financial transparency, earning the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance National Charity Seal and a four-star rating from Charity Navigator – two highly coveted endorsements. Communities In Schools has attracted attention and support from many prestigious foundations, corporations and individual philanthropists.
In 2017, the Communities In Schools (CIS) National Board of Directors approved a new Strategic Business Plan which includes the addition of an Innovation Lab to the CIS National Office. The Lab will prototype, pilot, and test concepts quickly to accelerate the pace of improvement for CIS and the field of Integrated Student Supports. The Lab will increasingly become self-sustaining by creating new channels to attract funding. The Director, Innovation Lab, is responsible for establishing and leading this new innovation function at CIS. Building a successful Lab will include identifying key consultant support, creating a design thinking approach, and engaging key stakeholders across the organization. The Director will be an innovative, entrepreneurial, self-starter with a formal background in practices such as Design Thinking, Human Centered Design, or similar. As part of a matrixed National Office, this position will collaborate with leadership across Program, Business Development, Research, and Advancement to ensure the Lab aligns with the overall organizational strategy, operates effectively and efficiently, and drives a shift toward an organizational culture of innovation.
Key Responsibilities of the Director, Innovation Lab
· Adapt a drafted implementation plan to establish an Innovation Lab within CIS’ National Office.
· Direct the work of designing, testing, and developing new products and services through the Lab, identifying, leveraging, and managing the support of consultants.
· Align goals of Lab with organizational goals for business development to grow the field of integrated student supports beyond the existing CIS network, to serve more students and schools.
· Create a design thinking process to collect ideas from CIS’ nationwide network of in-school practitioners.
· In partnership with the research team, refine appropriate measures of success for the Lab and evaluation strategy.
· Work closely with Program team to establish practices for piloting new products and services within the CIS nationwide network.
· Collaborate with the research team to identify key research questions the Lab will address.
· Identify and implement practices for cross-functional strategy supporting the Lab within the National Office.
· Identify and assess, in collaboration with Business Development and Advancement, marketable products and services to ensure the Lab becomes self-sustaining, creating new streams of revenue for the organization.
· Support development of realization strategies, including business cases, for products and services developed through the Lab.
· Working closely with Operations, build mechanisms for assessing and mitigating risk.
· Ensure the Lab supports CIS’ goals of promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
· Create activities to help integrate Innovation practices and philosophies into CIS’ working culture.
· Blend tools, methodologies, and expertise from fields outside of this organization, including tech, into our work to advance our impact and reach.
· This person must possess the patience and determination to educate staff, board, and executive leadership on a new way of thinking and establish cross-functional work processes and relationships.
· Proven track record of creating, developing, presenting, and implementing innovation roadmaps, or similar articulations of innovation strategies.
· Strong candidates will be described as perceptive, motivating, and acute listeners.
· The individual must exhibit flexibility, a high energy-level, firm commitment and demonstrated ability to develop high-quality work products.
· To perform this job successfully, an individual must be able to perform each essential duty satisfactorily. The requirements listed below are representative of the knowledge, skill and/or ability required. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.
EDUCATION and/or EXPERIENCE
· Bachelor’s degree (B.A. or B.S.) required, and advanced degree preferred. At least 7-10 years of experience working in in a professional setting.
· Direct experience with design thinking, human-centered design, business development, agile learning methods, and innovation trends.
· Experience with federated networks, nonprofits, and in an education and/or youth-focused agency a plus.
· Clear and creative verbal and written communications skills, with a demonstrated ability to drive complex conversations with multiple stakeholders with varied areas of expertise.
· Ability to gather, understand and synthesize information from a variety of sources.
· The capacity to work well with a diverse range of individuals and give exceptional attention to relationship management and collaboration. Ability to effectively present information and respond to questions from various groups.
· Direct knowledge of and/or ability to communicate effectively about technology strategy.
· Proficiency with Microsoft Office suite required.
· Knowledge of and experience using project management tools/technology highly desirable.
· Ability to take strategic approach to problem solving.
· Ability to collect data, establish facts and draw valid conclusions. Ability to interpret an extensive variety of instructions and deal with abstract and concrete variables.
· Strong organizational, time and budget management skills; close attention to deadlines and the capacity to work on several projects simultaneously.
· Understanding of organizational structures and relationships across a variety of industries.
About Communities In Schools
Across the country, 14.5 million kids under 18 live in poverty. These are disproportionately children of color who already struggle with issues of access and equity. Without community support, they are more at risk for missing school, dropping out and failing to earn a high school diploma. By helping our most vulnerable students stay in school and succeed in life, we are building stronger, healthier and more economically stable communities where every person is capable of reaching his or her greatest potential.