Position Announcement: Fellowship Program Director, EARTH University


EARTH University, established in Costa Rica at the close of the Central American civil wars in 1986, was founded on the premise that a new generation of leaders would be key to achieving peace and shared prosperity among rural communities struggling with poverty, conflict and environmental deterioration. With this transformative premise in mind, EARTH set out to train and prepare future generations of values-driven leaders for rural areas; to alleviate poverty, promote social justice and build a future where communities achieve sustainable and shared prosperity.

EARTH’s educational model is unique. The University was conceived and established as an institution of higher education focused on the learner and the learning process.  Aspects of the program that make it distinctly different from other institutions include an individualized admissions process based on non-traditional selection criteria, in which all short-listed candidates have personal and group interviews with EARTH faculty and staff.  Students are active participants in a highly experiential, integrated and multi-disciplinary curriculum that seeks to balance self-directed learning with teacher-directed learning. EARTH’s program focuses on nurturing an entrepreneurial spirit, concern for the welfare of the community, and strong environmental ethos in every student.  Finally, the development of values and personal responsibility is emphasized and there is an expectation that graduates will “go back and give back” to their countries of origin.

Over the past three decades, the University has consolidated an established platform for rural leadership education that has provided holistic undergraduate education in agricultural sciences and natural resources management to more than 2,300 graduates from 41 countries around the world (including 16 African nations).  Nearly 90% of EARTH’s students come from rural areas, all of whom study thanks to full or partial scholarships.

EARTH has received African students since 2000 and has established collaboration with multiple African tertiary institutions and others, and through this work has become a respected partner in efforts to assist universities in better meeting the needs of their students and society.

In March 2018, EARTH launched its 2018-2022 Strategic Plan under the leadership of its new President and following extensive consultations with the entire EARTH community and many external stakeholders.  As EARTH aims to significantly grow the impact of the University and extend its reach to millions of rural people, it will strengthen relationships with graduates in order to increase shared impact in graduate communities across developing countries and regions. The renewed partnership with MCF, including the Fellowship Program, offers EARTH an important opportunity to grow its impact in Africa through its growing network of graduates.

The Opportunity

In partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, EARTH is launching a Fellowship Program in Africa to support graduates with yearlong placements to secure productive economic livelihoods for themselves, create opportunities for dignified employment for others, and to realize their potential as change agents for the future of Africa. The Fellowship Program has been developed in recognition of the challenges inherent in the transition from university to the world of work, particularly for graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds. The Program, which will initially be open to EARTH’s African graduates and eventually to African graduates from all Mastercard Foundation partner institutions, will be offered along four tracks:

  • The Agricultural Employment Track will provide opportunities to establish a foothold into careers in the future of agriculture and food systems.
  • The Agricultural Education Track will provide placement opportunities in secondary education and with technical vocational education and training (TVET) institutions.
  • The Agricultural Innovation through Science and Research Track will place graduates interested in careers in agricultural research in organizations, universities and other institutions.
  • The Agricultural Entrepreneurship Track is designed for graduates who seek to launch their own market-based endeavors focused on innovative solutions to challenges in agriculture and rural development.

The Director, together with two additional colleagues to be selected and with assistance from key EARTH staff members, will be responsible for strengthening existing partnerships and developing new ones for Fellowships placements, coordinating a support program for Fellows including mentorship, periodic convenings, on-line support services and other activities and project administration.  The Fellowship office will be located in Africa. Further detail on key responsibilities is provided below.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Lead the roll-out process for the new Fellowship program;
  • Together with key EARTH staff, recruit two additional team members to collaborate in the launch and management of the Fellowship Program;
  • Identify, cultivate and formalize partnerships for Fellowship placements;
  • Organize periodic Fellow convenings in Africa with tailored content to support Fellows in their professional development;
  • Coordinate the selection process for Fellows and the annual cycle of the Fellowship for the first 8 cohorts of Fellows;
  • In coordination with EARTH’s Communications and Alumni offices, oversee the dissemination process for the Fellowship opportunity, both among EARTH graduates and later among all MCF partner institution alumni;
  • In coordination with EARTH’s Learning Director, capture and register data regarding Fellowship participants and analyze and distill learnings that serve to enrich the program and report on its impact;
  • Oversee the financial and operational management of the Fellowship Program, including stipend payments to Fellows and general administration in Africa;
  • Prepare periodic grant reports to share progress and key updates on the program with the Mastercard Foundation.
  • Collaborate with peer institutions and contribute to the broader discussion about youth entrepreneurship and employment in Africa.
  • Contribute to the growth and long-term sustainability of the program.

Position Requirements:

  • Minimum 5 years of experience in project management
  • Master’s degree in a relevant field
  • Fluency in spoken and written English is required; Spanish, French and Portuguese proficiency is a significant plus
  • Excellent interpersonal, intercultural and communication skills and experience working in multi-cultural environments
  • Initiative and independence in carrying out responsibilities and the ability to think and plan strategically
  • Experience in starting up new programs from scratch, flexibility and persistence in managing unknowns and change. Build on Fellowship design and implementation that has already begun
  • Ability to manage a small team and work effectively with University departments and across geographies to advance the goals of the program
  • Excellent organizational skills with an ability to manage multiple priorities and deadlines with accuracy and a strong results orientation
  • Detail-oriented, with strong planning skills
  • Interest in working closely with young people and supporting their professional development
  • Passion for and personal commitment to the mission and values of EARTH University
  • Knowledge of and familiarity with Africa (required); knowledge of agricultural education and sustainable development (preferred)
  • Ability to think strategically and leverage African knowledge and learning mindset
  • Willingness for extensive international travel, including trips to EARTH University in Costa Rica.

EARTH offers:

  • A values-driven organization with a compelling mission
  • An opportunity to impact the lives of young people
  • Competitive compensation and benefits
  • A unique professional and personal learning opportunity

Application Process:

  • Please send a current CV and a letter explaining your interest in the position and why you believe you are uniquely qualified for the position to fellowship@earth.ac.cr.

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