Executive Director

Application Deadline: 22 August 2018

How to apply: Email kate@staffableafrica.com with your CV/resume, cover letter of no more than 1-page answering the question provided below, and two professional references with the e-mail subject line: Executive Director

Cover letter prompt: How do you think a nimble organization can have the most positive impact on the Ugandan education sector? (please note, Elevate is interested in your thought process, not whether you agree with its current programs).

Location: Kampala, Uganda

Start Date: September 2018

About the Company:

Elevate: Partners for Education, a Ugandan education organization, focuses on translating academic research on cost effective education interventions into action and using technology to improve school quality.

In three years Elevate has built programs that reach 200+ schools serving 80,000 students, backed by an RCT showing its school scorecard program is cost effective at improving student learning. Elevate has strong relationships within the sector, such as the Prime Minister's Delivery Unit, that position the organization for regional and national scale. 

Job Summary:

Elevate: Partners for Education is seeking a full-time, Uganda-based Executive Director with vision and values alignment – someone that can shape strategy, enable programs, and build a strong team. Elevate translates research on cost effective education interventions into action and uses technology to improve school quality in Uganda.

As an organization, Elevate is nimble and dynamic. Based on the vision of the Executive Director candidate, the organization is open to responding to new opportunities in the sector and exploring strategies with earned revenue models. 

Key Roles & Responsibilities:

  • The incoming Executive Director will report to the Elevate board on a monthly basis and be responsible for the following:
  • Setting strategic vision*
  • Aligning programs and enabling talent to execute on vision
  • Ensuring strong monitoring, evaluation, and learning capabilities within the organization 
  • Building organizational capacity (e.g. overseeing HR, finances)
  • Securing organizational funds  

*Strategic visions will be approved by the Board. Significant freedom will be awarded for the Executive Director to pursue opportunities that are consistent with ‘Our Unique Approach’ outlined below. Elevate is open to hiring an Executive Director to further strengthen the existing programs and/or to introduce new programs to the organization.

Your Profile

  • An entrepreneurial spirit - self-starter with strong work ethic and growth mindset.
  • Demonstrated track record of identifying high impact opportunities.
  • A vision for the most impactful way to leverage the role of Elevate.
  • Demonstrated track record of building and leading strong teams.
  • Demonstrated track record of attracting resources to build organizations (powerful networker and strong communicator).
  • An understanding of qualitative and quantitative research/evaluation methodologies (including a familiarity with theories of change, process evaluations, cost effectiveness analysis, and randomized controlled trials).
  • Experience working in the Uganda education sector and/or with government partners is preferred, but not required.

** Position open to both expats and Ugandan nationals **

More about Elevate:

We are dedicated to having the most impact possible that we can on the education sector in Uganda. To do this, our strategy is based on what we believe has the highest expected value, which we evaluate based on depth of impact, likelihood of success and potential for scale. Some of the principles that undermine our work include: 

  • Leveraging research and evidence – We don’t want to recreate the wheel or make blind guesses. We believe there’s significant academic research, evidence, and knowledge from other organizations that can inform the development of our current strategy – and that there’s often a big gap translating promising evidence-based research into action.
  • Hypothesis testing – We believe in continuous learning. For each of our programs we articulate a clear theory of change, and then build in feedback loops to improve and iterate. We don’t believe we will always be right. Instead we value accurate assessments that enable us to make better decisions for long term impact.
  • Cost-effectiveness – We make program decisions based on the anticipated cost for a unit of impact at scale. We don’t put much stock on pure ‘overhead’ metrics – instead we value investments in organizational efficiency and talent that enables us to deliver ‘the best bang for our buck.’ We are interested in revenue-generating models that have a social impact.
  • Impact at scale –We select programs and initiatives that can be scaled to regional and national levels. We make strategic programmatic investments to position ourselves for expansion because we believe that the majority of our impact will come from scale. 
  • Opportunistic – As a nimble organization that mainly operates on unrestricted capital, we are aware of major national initiatives in the education sector. We seek to capitalize on political windows of opportunity to find the best ways to further leverage our impact and add value when relevant. 

Our Reason for Being:

According to the UN, Uganda has one of the highest percentage of youth in the world. However, only one out of ten children at the third grade level can read and write at the second grade level (Uwezo, 2016). At Elevate, we believe that the future of Uganda relies on transforming the education sector. We focus on the primary education sector because investments at this level have the highest ROI. Ensuring individuals learn the basic of literacy and numeracy leads to higher lifetime earnings, better health outcomes, and improved gender equity. In addition, an educated population is critical to build strong institutions and increase productivity for economic growth that lifts countries out of poverty. Our vision is that all children should receive high quality education.

Our Current Programs:

I) District Implementation Program (DIP)

The Program --> Developed through a partnership with the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit, this program strengthens existing district structures to monitor schools, coach teachers, and provide real time data to district leaders. To do so, this program works with top district education government leaders to identify priority education indicators in their district (e.g. teacher time on task, use of lesson plans) that will lead to improvements in student learning. We then train Center Coordinating Tutors (CCTs) to use smartphones to capture data in real time during school visits, coach teachers, and remove bottlenecks to make progress on critical indicators.

Our Impact --> Districts who have run multiple terms of the program report an 45% increase in teachers using lesson plans and 38% increase in teachers teaching during scheduled class times. Additionally, CCTs report that they feel more supported and motivated during their 150+ school inspections. District leaders report increased communication and coordination within the district.

What’s Next --> We have a strong understanding of the capacity of CCTs, Primary Teacher Training Colleges and District Education Office in the areas where we work. We also have tested different ways to introduce and support CCTs utilize technology. We have the opportunity to hone our technical expertise to help multilaterals and national programs successfully introduce technology to improve school inspections.

II) School Scorecard Program

Our Program --> This participatory program strengthens school management committees (local school boards) and engages parents in government primary schools. The program works by identifying key stakeholders within the school community, helping these stakeholders to articulate the most important challenges facing their school community, and then supporting these stakeholders as they take action and monitor results to improve their school. The program is based on a 2011 RCT completed in Uganda that indicated that the program was highly cost effective (Zeitlin et al. 2011). Since the RCT used government officials (CCTs) to run the program, there is significant potential for scale. Elevate has now run the school scorecard program for 3 years.

Our Impact--> We run the school scorecard program in 63 schools, impacting over 20,000 students. An external RCT found the school scorecard program increased teacher attendance by 13 percentage points, pupil attendance by 9 percentage points, and increase student test scores by .19 standard deviations. That’s the same learning increase as paying for a student to attend school for an extra 100 days – at 1/9 of the cost!

What’s Next --> We’re wrapping up a process evaluation, internal impact evaluation, and replication toolkit. Now we have the opportunity to continue conversations with NGOs and multilaterals that are interested in replicating our program and exploring the best ways to scale the program within existing structures in the education system.

Leadership and Advisory Team:

Elevate’s current leadership and advisory team includes individuals with backgrounds from Harvard Kennedy School, Stanford Business School, Yale University, Innovations for Poverty Action, IDinsight, Economic Policy Research Center (Kampala), Uganda National Teachers Union, Cambridge Education, UN Education Board, BRAC, and Bain & Company.