Please review the How to Apply section for application instructions.
24 Aug 2023

Full-Time Environment Program Officer

Onion Foundation – Posted by [email protected] Auburn, Maine, United States

Job Description


The Onion Foundation is a private charitable foundation established in 2014. Its mission is to build a more equitable and healthy Maine by deepening the connection of all people to the arts and to nature.  Since its creation, the foundation has made over 1500 grants, totaling over $13.6 million, to more than 460 unique non-profit organizations in the state of Maine. The Onion Foundation is committed to advancing equity and climate justice, to countering racism, ableism and other forms of discrimination, and to honoring the wisdom of diverse beliefs, traditions, and cultural expressions.

The Onion Foundation Environment Program aims to enable all Maine residents, especially in rural areas, to enjoy the state’s natural resources and to develop the knowledge, skills, and motivation to protect Maine’s environment. Rather than supporting land acquisition and capital projects, the Environment Program focuses its resources on the people of Maine, whose lives and behaviors will shape environment and climate change outcomes. To achieve its goal, the Environment Program employs three grantmaking strategies: expanding equitable outdoor access; supporting high-quality nature learning; and encouraging advocacy and movement building to protect the environment and mitigate climate change.


The Environment Program Officer is a key member of the Onion Foundation’s staff, with responsibility for implementing and further developing the Environment Program’s strategic plan.  Reporting to the Executive Director, the Program Officer will oversee a robust grantmaking program, which recently clarified its strategic approach with the objectives of supporting effective programs, strengthening the environment sector, and growing public engagement. The Program Officer will solicit and review proposals, manage relationships with grant applicants and grantees, make recommendations to the Board, evaluate grant results, and establish and utilize indicators to assess the impact of the Environment Program and make necessary revisions.

The Program Officer will also develop and implement non-grantmaking activities that inform, convene, and strengthen the environment sector. These responsibilities include taking an active part in the Onion Foundation’s emerging communications initiative, e.g., featuring grantees’ work, publicizing effective practices, sharing pertinent resources, and taking advocacy positions when the foundation can make a significant contribution to improving policy and practice.  The Program Officer will design and implement other non-grantmaking activities—including webinars, training sessions, and meetings—to facilitate the exchange of ideas and experiences and increase collaboration, knowledge, and capacity within the sector.

The Program Officer will develop an in-depth knowledge of the environmental community in Maine and will work to build relationships and networks with nonprofits, local and national funders, thought leaders, and government agencies working on relevant issues. In addition, the Program Officer will stay abreast of national trends, movements, and research related to the environment and, more generally, to the philanthropic sector.  Internally, as a pivotal member of the Onion Foundation, the Program Officer will contribute to idea generation and strategic thinking, collaborate closely with other team members, work to streamline and increase the effectiveness of internal processes, and place priority on the Foundation’s commitment to advancing equity and inclusion.


  • Maintain familiarity with the foundation’s goals, values, programs, priorities, and requirements, including federal laws and regulations that govern private foundations
  • Implement and, as needed, propose revisions to the Environment Program’s three-year strategic plan and prepare annual work plans, outlining grantmaking and non-grantmaking priorities and activities, to implement the strategic plan
  • Develop and utilize indicators to assess the impact of the Environment Program and propose alternatives to strategies or activities that appear to have less impact than desired
  • Be knowledgeable about developments, opportunities, and challenges that are relevant to the Environment Program’s overarching goal and strategies and develop relationships with key actors, including practitioners, advocates, academicians, policymakers, thought leaders, and other funders.
  • Draft the Environment Program’s annual budget for Executive Director review and track spending throughout the year
  • On an annual basis, determine which grant opportunities will be by invitation or unsolicited (i.e., through an open call for proposals) and work closely with the Grants and Office Administrator to establish associated timetables and processes
  • Communicate with and respond to inquiries from grant applicants and recipients, particularly relating to program strategies, proposal and grant requirements, and conduct site visits and meetings to be current with grantees’ activities, goals, achievements, challenges, and needs
  • Review proposals and grant reports and, in coordination with the Grants and Office Administrator, prepare dockets and related materials for Board review
  • Use GivingData, the foundation’s grant administration software, to record assessments and recommendations, summarize interactions with grantees, preserve grantee documents, and facilitate workflow and planning
  • Collaborate with the Grants and Office Administrator to request information needed from grant applicants or grantees to enable complete review of proposals, grant modification requests, and Foundation-supported activities and to comply with Foundation and IRS requirements
  • Annually develop a portfolio of non-grantmaking activities to advance the Program’s strategies and, as necessary, identify vendors/consultants and negotiate contracts for the Executive Director’s review to support those activities
  • Serve as a thought leader and highlight the work of grantees and the Environment Program by contributing to the Foundation’s communication initiatives
  • Participate in staff meetings, strategy sessions, and office-wide special events
  • Develop collegial relationships with staff in other foundations to maintain awareness of their funding priorities as well as trends, resources, and innovation relating to the Environment Program’s strategies or to philanthropy more generally
  • Serve as a public representative and ambassador of the Onion Foundation and participate in funder or public/private collaborations of interest
  • Complete other duties and special projects as assigned by the Executive Director


  • Bachelor’s degree from a four-year college or university or equivalent practical experience
  • A minimum of seven years of experience in the environment sector or an equivalent combination of graduate education and experience
  • Non-profit organization or grantmaking experience


  • A desire to support the mission, vision, and values of the Onion Foundation
  • Knowledge of or a strong interest in learning about environmental issues and organizations in Maine
  • A demonstrated commitment to advancing equity, inclusion, and a sense of belonging
  • A demonstrated interest in the work of non-profit organizations
  • Ability to manage confidential issues and act with discretion
  • A high level of self-motivation, a strong work ethic, and a willingness to take initiative
  • Ability to be opportunistic and undertake unexpected tasks
  • A curious outlook and a creative approach to solving problems
  • Diplomatic manner and pleasant disposition in interactions with colleagues and the public
  • Capacity for self-reflection and a sense of humor


  • Excellent written, organizational, analytical, and interpersonal skills
  • Excellent listening and communication skills, with sensitivity to cultural communication differences
  • Ability to think critically, synthesize issues, and present information, perspectives, and recommendations in a systematic and clear manner
  • Proficiency with computers and software, including file management, DropBox, Google Suite, and Microsoft Office
  • Ability to master the foundation’s grant administration software, GivingData, and other software to facilitate grant and contact management, data integrity, workflows, and efficiency
  • Ability to assess financial information and draft and work within a program budget
  • Capacity to undertake internet and other research
  • Ability to multitask, effectively managing a range of projects with short- and long-term deadlines
  • Consistent attention to detail, priorities, and deadlines
  • Ability to work with little supervision and as a member of a team
  • Ability and desire to work with a diverse group of individuals


The Onion Foundation office is in Auburn, Maine. The Program Officer must be available to work in the Auburn office at least two days each week and may work remotely other days. The position will require occasional travel, including outside of normal business hours, to conduct site visits with grantees and grant applicants and to attend conferences and meetings.


The Program Officer typically performs functions in an office setting with a low level of noise. The foundation will make reasonable accommodations to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the job functions. The Onion Foundation requires employees to be fully vaccinated and boosted against COVID-19 as a condition of employment and to provide proof of such vaccination prior to commencement of employment.   


  • Salary range: $80,000 – $110,000
  • Full time: 36-hour week
  • Generous comprehensive benefits package, including: health, dental, vision, and disability insurance; four weeks paid vacation; and, an employer-sponsored 401(k) retirement account with up to a 6% employer contribution

How to Apply

Forward cover letter and resume by September 17, 2023 to [email protected]. The Foundation will not consider applications without a cover letter.

The Onion Foundation is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

Job Categories: Healthy Living. Job Types: Full-Time. Job Tags: foundation, grantmaking, Maine, outdoor access, and philanthropy. Salaries: 80,000 - 100,000.

Job expires in 31 days.

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