JOB ANNOUNCEMENT: Development Specialist for Grants & Foundation Relationships

 Highlander is searching for a talented, self-starting, and organized Development Specialist for Grants & Foundation Relationships to join our Development & Communications staff. The role will help Highlander acquire grant support and other philanthropic funding by telling the story and impact of Highlander’s educational and accompaniment work as a catalyst for grassroots organizing and movement building in the US South and beyond.

Learn more about Highlander’s current and past work here:


Highlander’s Development Specialist for Grants & Foundation Relationships will be the primary grant researcher, writer, and reporter for all of Highlander’s foundation income. The role will work with Executive leadership, Development & Communications staff, Highlander’s Education staff, and Foundation program officers to determine Highlander’s funding needs and to identify, apply for, and explain the impact of grant funding on Highlander’s work. The role will have a portfolio of foundation relationships to maintain and will help the Development Coordinator and Co-Executive Directors foster new foundation relationships and maintain current connections. The role will also work with Operations staff to secure grant funding to support Highlander’s capacity building and capital needs (buildings, grounds, and other major expenditures). With the Finance staff and other members of the Development staff, the Development Specialist for Grants & Foundation Relationships will track incoming grants and manage reporting processes. This role will make a significant contribution to the design and implementation of a strategy to secure short- and long-term grant revenue streams for Highlander’s sustainability.

The ideal candidate is someone who can work as part of a dynamic and diverse staff to translate Highlander’s powerful educational and operational work into compelling grant narratives that appeal to a variety of traditional and non-traditional philanthropic audiences.


 Applicants invited to an initial interview will have a work and life history that includes:

  • Demonstrated success in grant research, writing, and reporting
  • Excellent writing, listening, and organizational skills
  • The ability to help track the impact of educational/organizing programs, to listen for and clarify the needs of organizations, and to develop and maintain the systems necessary for short, medium, and long-term grants management
  • Demonstrated experience with program evaluation tools (written, graphic, alternative media, etc.)
  • Emotional maturity
  • A commitment to working in a multi-racial, cross-class, multi-gendered work places
  • The ability and desire to work with a people with a wide variety of personalities, backgrounds, and passions
  • A clear understanding of interconnected systems of oppression in the South and Appalachia and how to talk about and write the story of the work
  • 2 years working in a social justice context (paid or unpaid work)



  • Proficiency with Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge NXT or a track record of learning and using a similar system
  • Proficiency with Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc.)
  • Previous experience with progressive funders/funder networks
  • Speaking/writing abilities in language(s) other than English
  • Familiarity with the integration of budgeting & development planning



 This position is directly accountable to Development Coordinator, and in their absence, the Executive Directors and members of the Development & Communications staff. Members of Highlander’s staff are expected to participate in regular departmental meetings, monthly staff & Board committee meetings, organizational committee meetings, and three Board meetings per year. Highlander is a highly participatory work place, with ample opportunity for staff members to work both autonomously and interdependently across teams.


Highlander is located on 186 acres of land in rural East Tennessee (near Knoxville) and is considered a “movement home” by thousands of people from all over the world. Based on the nature of the position’s responsibilities, we anticipate that the Development Specialist for Grants & Foundation Relationships can work remotely; however, final requests for occasional remote work and support for home office set-up will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Highlander offers up to $1,500.00 in relocation reimbursements and, when available, temporary transitional housing on-site.


 This position’s salary is set at $61,677 (before taxes and other withholdings), which is Highlander’s current annual Level 1 salary. This position is currently a full-time, salaried position (35 hours a week with an additional 5 hours of paid breaks), with evening and weekend work required. This position is non-exempt, which means it does qualify for overtime pay.

Highlander provides a people-centric benefits package which includes an employer-paid medical (BCBS), dental, and vision plans for the employee as well as their spouse/domestic partner, and/or dependents. Highlander also provides an employer-paid Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) which helps employees and their families cover eligible out-of-pocket medical, dental, and vision expenses. We also offer a traditional 403(b) retirement plan (TIAA-CREF) with significant employer-paid annual retirement contributions after a year of employment.

In addition to 11 paid holidays a year, this position will accrue up to 24 days (192 hours) of vacation time a year and up to 12 days (96 hours) of sick time a year. Employees can also take advantage of a generous staff development stipend and other opportunities for professional development on a case-by-case basis. Highlander staff are highly encouraged to take advantage of our existing benefits to promote their own holistic growth and well-being as both individuals and employees. A more detailed summary of benefits can be provided upon request.

This position is included in the bargaining unit of Highlander Workers United, Highlander’s staff union.


 Highlander is an equal opportunity employer, and we especially encourage applications from Black, brown, and indigenous people, women, LGBTQ+ and gender variant/non-conforming folks, and working-class/cash poor people. Folks directly impacted by the criminal justice system are also encouraged to apply.


Step 1: In one PDF document, compile:

  • cover letter,
  • resume/CV,
  • name & contact information for 3 references


Step 2: Email that PDF document to Write “Development Specialist for Grants & Foundation Relationships” in the Subject line. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Optional: In addition to the required information above, you can send other application content that showcases your skills, interests, and experiences. Make sure to include any explanation needed to best interpret the content you include. The content can come in any form of media, which can include but is not limited to:

  • A Timeline of your work, life or experiences
  • A Video
  • A PowerPoint or other form of presentation
  • A graphic design, collage or sets of pictures and photographs
  • A Song, poem, or other writing samples


Timeline: The application process will be open until the position is filled. We hope to fill this position as soon as possible. Select applicants will receive an initial invitation to interview via Zoom with a hiring committee, and the final candidate(s) will be invited to a final interview with the full Highlander staff.


If you have a question about the position before applying, please send it to and someone from the hiring committee will reply as soon as possible.