Criminal Justice Reform Program Associate

Update December 2020: We are no longer accepting applications for this position.

Open Philanthropy is aiming to hire a program associate to assist our criminal justice reform (“CJR”) team. We currently give away roughly $25 million a year as part of a broad strategy to reduce incarceration in the United States. We take an ecosystem approach to funding while holding ourselves to rigorous standards for impact.
Over the past few years, we have funded work on organizing, policy advocacy, narrative change, and major campaigns (such as stopping jail construction in Los Angeles or supporting prosecutor accountability work in Chicago). Our team also recommends funding opportunities to interested donors outside of Open Philanthropy.

About the Role

As a program associate, you would work closely with Program Officer Chloe Cockburn, Program Associate Jesse Rothman, and CJR contractor Marisa Renee Lee to evaluate and renew past grants, investigate and execute new ones, and build relationships with key leaders and stakeholders in the field. The role may involve:

  • Assisting on grantee check-in calls and helping the team assess how grants are going.
  • Attending convenings, strategy meetings, and other relevant gatherings, and reporting back to the team.
  • Helping evaluate a grant’s impact by talking to people with direct knowledge of the area, synthesizing findings, and sharing your analysis of what seems most likely to be true with the team.
  • Improving the resources we share with other donors to help them identify impactful work.
  • Other projects, depending on interest and personal fit. Generally, we expect the autonomy and responsibility of a successful hire to grow over time; later projects might be substantially more ambitious and open-ended than early ones. Over time, we expect the program associate to become a core contributor to the team, and to participate in shaping our strategy for achieving programmatic goals.

    Building high-trust relationships with grantees and other partners will be a crucial component of the role. Most of the job boils down to (1) getting and sharing information and (2) exercising good judgment and discretion to help the team make sound decisions. We expect the strongest candidates to have made a long-term commitment to working to end mass incarceration, and to have existing networks in the community to draw on to help us form an accurate assessment of what is happening on the ground.

    About You

    We are open to applicants with many levels of seniority and experience, with the understanding that the scope of the role may be partly determined by the final hire. You might be a good fit if:

  • You have a background in organizing, whether as a staff person with a union or community organization, or through volunteer organizing work.
  • You enjoy getting to know people and are willing and able to form and maintain a large number of relationships.
  • You are comfortable maintaining multiple channels of communication (text, email, phone, slack) and independently managing your workflow to keep projects on track.
  • You are excited to tackle open-ended work without extensive oversight. You prefer to take ownership of a project and think through how to accomplish its goals rather than merely executing the project as originally planned; you’re comfortable with open-ended questions, where there are no clear precedents or guidelines.
  • You are comfortable working with a fully remote team, where most communication is in writing.
  • You communicate clearly and honestly about what you think, are comfortable giving and receiving feedback, and are comfortable (or can imagine getting comfortable) making pragmatic choices about where to support work, taking into account tradeoffs and evidence of impact.

    We strongly encourage applications from people who have been directly impacted by the criminal justice system (e.g. through a personal or family history of incarceration), and/or who have significant experience working with directly impacted people.

    Other Information

  • The compensation for this role is $97,750, which includes a baseline salary of $85,000 and an unconditional 401(k) grant of $12,750. The exact start date is flexible, and we’re waiting to find the right person to fill this position.
  • This is a full-time position which can be done remotely or from our San Francisco office (the other members of the CJR team are currently based remotely). The salary listed above is based on the cost of living in the San Francisco Bay Area or New York City; please note there are cost of living adjustments downward for employees based in other locations.
  • We offer a comprehensive benefits package including full health, dental, vision and life insurance, flexible work hours and location, a stipend for ergonomic equipment and other benefits.
  • Currently, all OP staff are working from home due to COVID-19 and will continue to do so until it is deemed safe to work from the SF office.

    We are committed to fostering a culture of inclusion and encourage individuals with diverse backgrounds and experiences to apply. We especially encourage applications from self-identified women and people of color who are excited about contributing to our mission. Open Philanthropy is an equal opportunity employer. If you need assistance or an accommodation due to a disability, or have any other questions about applying, please contact