Development Associate

Are you looking for a role where you can make a difference? Are you interested in helping to bridge the educational opportunity gap for Chicago Public School students by providing them with an after-school program that supports their academic, career, and leadership success? If so, consider joining the Chicago Debates team. For twenty-five years, Chicago Debates has partnered with Chicago Public Schools to provide debate programming across its district. Through the transformational activity of debate, students are empowered to find their voice, succeed in college and career, and become community leaders. As the largest of the 22 urban policy debate leagues in the country, our goal is to return to our pre-Covid operations and serve up to 1700 students across 90+ schools in the 2021-2022 school year.

Position Overview

Chicago Debates seeks a Full-Time Development Associate to provide organizational support to achieve our mission of advancing the educational achievement, community contributions, and life success of Chicago’s youth through the transformative activity of academic debate.

As an integral member of the team, the Development Associate will support the cultivation and stewardship of new and existing relationships with foundation donors. We seek a passionate, eager, highly responsible and detail-oriented team member who can work both independently and collaboratively in a vision and mission driven growing organization.

The Development Associate will coordinate the research, writing, and reporting process for all grant activity for Chicago Debates. Responsibilities include but are not limited to the following:

  • Support cultivation and stewardship of existing and new relationships with Foundation donors by identifying appropriate touchpoints and engagement strategies, drafting correspondence with Foundations and developing meeting prep sheets and follow-up materials.
  • Conduct research to identify new prospects, create prospect profiles, and support the development and management of prospect cultivation strategies.
  • Serve as the lead writer on grant proposals and reports to support ongoing and new programs.
  • Seek, steward, and secure funding from foundation donors by researching and writing grant proposals.
  • Prepare and oversee the distribution of donor materials, including solicitations, follow-up and acknowledgments.
  • Process acknowledgement letters for all donations.
  • Collaborate with finance and program staff to develop and manage budgets and budget narratives for grant proposals and reports.
  • Oversee the maintenance of calendars, timelines, grants information and electronic files of correspondence; enter, update and maintain donor and prospective donor information in the Development database and other electronic records.
  • Inform appropriate staff of grant requirements and reporting deadlines.
  • Provide administrative services to team members carrying out various fundraising activities.
  • Assist in special fundraising events.
  • Perform other job-related duties as requested.

Data Management

  • Manage the donor database.
  • Input donor gifts into the NEON CRM database; add new constituent entries; update database with constituent changes; remove duplicates, etc.
  • Maintain and manage the integrity of all prospect data in the NEON CRM database.
  • Track philanthropic requests, pledges and contributions.
  • Prepare mailing materials like invitations, solicitations and newsletters.
  • NEON CRM Database In-House Expert: Build queries for data cleansing and audit purposes, perform data imports and exports, find opportunities for process improvement, and train other team members on the proper usage of the database.
  • Work with the Finance Team to reconcile donation entries with QuickBooks and Neon CRM entries on monthly basis.
  • Provide foundation and/or donor reports, lists, or information from the database as needed/requested.


  • Bachelor’s degree required.
  • Minimum of at least one-year of grant writing, researching, and editing experience. Will consider other extensive research and writing experience in place of specific grant writing and editing skills.
  • Previous experience with a donor management platform(s) required (e.g. Neon, Salesforce, Razor’s Edge, or Donor Perfect, etc.).
  • Must be highly organized with exceptional attention to detail.
  • Demonstrated ability to synthesize complex ideas into clear, concise, and compelling messages for a variety of audiences.
  • Advanced project management skills to balance multiple large-scale projects and deadlines simultaneously.
  • Ability to communicate with senior level internal and external stakeholders.
  • Ability to work independently and as a team member in a very fast-paced work environment.
  • Experience working across departments as well as with staff at a variety of levels to meet objectives and broader organizational needs.
  • Ability to think strategically and analytically that includes the ability to see the big picture while managing details.
  • Able to process, protect and exercise discretion in handling confidential information and materials.
  • Advanced computer skills, specifically with Microsoft Office Suite, Google Suite, and fundraising databases; ability to learn and master other computer technology/software programs as needed.


  • Strong connection to the Chicago Debates mission.
  • Energetic and welcoming demeanor.
  • Excellent interpersonal, communication, and relationship-building skills.
  • Strong work ethic.
  • Creative.
  • Highly self-motivated with the ability to take initiative.

Work Schedule

Full-Time, Monday through Friday, 9:00am-5:00pm, but requires 40-50 hours per week. Hybrid schedule: remotely twice a week (Mondays & Fridays) and in-office Tuesday through Thursday. Must also have some flexibility to on occasion work a slightly later schedule to support special events.


Entry level range $43k-$46k. Final salary to be determined based on experience and skills. Full-time employees are eligible for health, dental, and vision insurance, Retirement, 10 PTO days in year one, 6 Sick Days annually, and 10 Holidays, and a holiday shut down from Christmas Eve through New Year’s day. Chicago Debates is seeking a commitment of at least two years.

Hiring Process

The position will begin as soon as April/May 2022, pending candidate’s availability. Qualified candidates must be available for:

  • A Round 1 group interview on April 5, 2022 (virtual).
  • Candidates who advance to a Round 2 interview should be available on April 7, 2022 (in-person).
  • Candidates who advance to a Round 3 interview should be available on April 12 (in-person).

To Apply

Submit a cover letter, resume, and salary requirements to

Chicago Debates is an equal opportunity employer.

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