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Empower Illinois (EI) is a 501c3 non-profit that serves as a new statewide scholarship granting organization (SGO). EI was built to support the state’s private schools and up to 15,000 low- income children as a result of the $100,000,000 annual scholarship tax credit law EI recently advocated into law.
In addition to the SGO aspects of its work, Empower Illinois advocates for policy that leads to a high-quality, student-centered education system for children from low income and working-class families — both inside and outside of the traditional public education system. EI focuses on a broad range of research based and innovative policies, the core of which are focused on equitable funding and developing pathways to unlock the unique student potential within a diverse range of learner types. EI policy is sequenced as part of a larger long-term strategy to build a base on which further innovations — empowering educators, equal access to gifted education, career technical education, course equity, and better meeting the needs of children with unique abilities — can better prepare students for success beyond the K-12 environment.
EI works closely with One Chance Illinois – Action (OCI). OCI is a 501c4 that works with other non-profits, schools, and community advocates to achieve shared advocacy goals. OCI employs the state’s leading lobbyists, activates grassroots organizing, communications, and ultimately serves children from the entire state of Illinois and is presently based in Chicago.
Empower Illinois (EI) seeks an effective and entrepreneurial Regional Director. The Regional Director will join a growing organization that has distinguished itself as a powerful catalyst for the creation and sustainability of high quality private school scholarships and innovative education policy in Illinois. The organization has successfully advanced a number of policies including the 2017 passage of the IL tax credit scholarship (TCS) program. It is the first time a large blue state—with both houses of the legislature under Democratic control—has enacted an educational choice program. In the past 3 years, EI also advanced a tax credit for teacher expenses spent out of pocket on supplies, legislation that creates universal screening for low income gifted and talented students, a competency-based learning program, and an increase in the individual tuition tax credit.
The Regional Director will join a team of staff and contract lobbyists who advocate for priority policies at the district and state level, and who will work with external stakeholders and school network leaders to support their participation in the Tax Credit Scholarship Program and lead advocacy efforts in and for those communities. The Regional Director will report to the Director of Government Affairs.
The growing Advocacy and Policy Team focuses on state-level advocacy and legislative affairs (with the longer-term prospect of district level activity), as well as school-level data and policy analysis. The Regional Director is therefore responsible for developing relationships and providing key support in specific regions of the state and/or with specific constituent groups. The regional director is the primary relationship lead for these communities, creating a conduit of support, communication and advocacy. EI seeks a Regional Director who can assess the opportunities available in each of these areas and make strategic decisions about priorities and additional possibilities. Responsibilities include:
Regional Leadership and Local Advocacy
- Work with Advocacy and Policy Team to develop region- and constituent-specific strategies toempower local stakeholders;
- Serve as the primary point of contact for in-district visits with legislators;
- Develop and implement grassroots strategies and events to mobilize scholarship parents,families, and coalition members to take meaningful action on local and state issues;
- Provide meaningful training and relevant resources to school network and civic leaders relative to the scholarship application process, fundraising, donor relations, and marketing and communications;
- Represent EI externally in a variety of settings and participate broadly in the state and local education reform community.
Policy Development and Communication
- Work with the Advocacy and Policy Team on the development of policy briefs, research reports, and dissemination of policy findings to regional and local stakeholders;
- In coordination with the Advocacy and Policy Team, develop relationships with local, city, and statewide officials to ensure timely and two-way communication of information about the Invest in Kids Acts, and its impact vis a vis the scholarships provided by Empower Illinois.
- Maintain understanding of key quality and performance dimensions within the key educator communities, private school leaders, and strategically communicate relevant findings and messages.
First and foremost, the Regional Director must have a passion for education policy and believe in EI’s core priorities and that the SGO has the power to transform education and the lives of students from low-income and working-class families.
- Significant people-skills and the ability to form high-quality, personal and professional relationships with individuals from diverse backgrounds;
- Previous advocacy and/or grassroots work and the ability to relate to and influence a variety of external partners including civic leaders, community organizations, elected and appointed politicians, and parents;
- Experience navigating complex political environments and a keen understanding of the political nuances of education reform in Illinois;
- Organized, strategic, and self-motivated professional who can set goals and deliver results against those goals;
- A history of working in fast-paced entrepreneurial environments, and working remotely while remaining connected to and aligned with broad organizational goals and objectives.
- The ability to be pragmatic and focus on solutions that work in the real world of politics, classrooms, and with parents and their children;
- The ability to identify new ways to add value to stakeholder organizations and to more deeply engage them in the important work of advocacy;
- A capacity for eliciting impact stories from scholarship recipients and their school communities, identifying advocates and spokespeople who have the respect of the community, and aligning these testimonies with the broader policy and advocacy objectives of the organization;
- Entrepreneurialism and a high level of ambition;
- A level of integrity and energy compelling enough to bring a divergent range of partners with different political, religious, and financial backgrounds together in a collaborative fashion and inspire them to act.
Competitive and commensurate with experience. EI provides full medical and dental coverage and offers generous retirement benefits.
Commitment to Inclusivity
Empower Illinois does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations. These activities include, but are not limited to, hiring and firing of staff and contractors, selection of volunteers and vendors, and provision of services.
The review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled. For best consideration, applications should be submitted electronically as soon as possible. Applications should include a letter of interest and a current resume. Please email [email protected]
Data/Policy Research Intern
Empower Illinois is seeking an energetic and responsible intern to join our dynamic team, help propel our mission to expand quality education options for low-income and working-class families of Illinois, and grow in their own professional capacity and experience. In this position, you will be a key member of the team and will assist in a variety of different roles in order to help our organization best serve low-income families and their children. You will focus on operational and policy data management that will assist with our scholarship granting, fundraising, and advocacy needs for year two of this organization. This is a great opportunity for an individual with interest in education to learn more about the education landscape and improve on their data management skills. Empower Illinois is looking for an individual who can commit six to nine hours each week now through June.
About Empower Illinois
Empower Illinois is a 501(c)(3) that expands quality education options for low-income and working-class families of Illinois through policy development, research, advocacy, and administering the State’s largest scholarship granting organization (SGO). Empower Illinois is a fairly new organization, so you will be part of a fast paced, growing, start-up environment, which includes the ability to suggest and implement process improvements, develop best practices, and provide input on how to best serve families and their educational needs.
Intern Duties and Responsibilities
- Collect and organize data on One Chance Illinois policies including requesting information from school districts and partner organizations
- Consolidate and summarize documentation on key programming decisions made in year one of the program
- Document contact information and main takeaways after key meetings with school leaders, church leaders, scholarship stakeholders, and legislators in Salesforce
- Cleanse existing data in Salesforce to ensure consistency and accuracy
- Work with Data Manager to develop rules and guidelines for use of data from Salesforce and our student application
Intern Requirements and Qualifications
- Interest in education, education systems, and/or education policy
- Proficient computer skills, including Microsoft Office Suite (Word, PowerPoint, and Excel)
- Experience with Salesforce would be beneficial, but not required
- Must be 16 years of age
- Excellent written and verbal communication skills
- Self-directed and able to work without supervision
- Energetic and eager to tackle new projects and ideas
How To Apply
Interested individuals should send their resume by email to Sinthu Ramalingam at [email protected]