The Primary School, Vice President, External Relations

Edgility Consulting East Palo Alto , CA 94303

Posted 2 months ago


The Primary School (TPS) is creating a new school model that brings together all of the adults in a childs life, including parents, educators, and medical and mental health providers, starting from a very early age. TPS recognizes the entrenched racism that exists within our public systems and the unjust impact this has had on families of color. TPSs aim is that children and families most impacted by systemic poverty and racism receive the multidisciplinary support they deserve to be well, learn, and thrive.

Long-term, TPS hopes to create a game-changing school model that can be replicated across the country. As they continue to learn and grow, TPS plans to share what theyve learned and pursue policy and systems change on a local, state, and national level. TPS is proud to receive funding from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a major national philanthropy.

The Primary Schools approach has three defining characteristics:

  • TPS starts early. They start working with children as young as 8 months and provide full-time school starting at age three to reach them at a critical stage in development.
  • They partner with parents. TPS believes that when parents thrive, children thrive, so they support the wellness and growth of parents alongside the growth of their children.
  • TPS integrates services. Their unique model unites health care and education, building a multi-disciplinary team and holistic system of care around a childs full needs.

In 2016, TPS opened its flagship school in East Palo Alto, California, with its first class of four year olds. TPS has grown to serve over 300 children and their families through a birth to three program, parent wellness program, full-day preschool, and elementary school, which will grow through eighth grade. In 2020, TPS began programming at their second site in Hayward, California. The Primary School is continuing to grow its East Palo Alto site and is excited to launch 5th grade for the 2022-2023 school year.

To learn more about The Primary School, please visit


The VP External Relations reports to the CEO in East Palo Alto and will be part of the central office team.

The VP External Relations is responsible for developing and implementing the current and longer-term fundraising and communications strategies for The Primary School, in collaboration with the CEO and TPS leadership team. This roles primary responsibilities include developing and implementing The Primary Schools fundraising strategy with the launch of TPSs new strategic plan; overseeing the identification, cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship of donors and supporters; and driving the strategy and execution of TPSs communications work - including brand management, thought leadership, dissemination, and support for development, site growth, and talent.

The VP External Relations will play a key role in moving the organization toward The Primary Schools long-term vision to share and replicate its innovative model beyond TPS core communities. This means securing the philanthropic funding necessary for growth as well as developing messaging about the science and rationale behind our model and building an understanding of the model and its impact with the public and key audiences. These audiences include funders, partners, thought leaders, policymakers, and job seekers, both locally and nationally.

The VP External Relations will manage a team of development and communications staff, currently two associate-level positions (one filled and one a new position to be filled).


Development Strategy & Systems Development

  • In collaboration with TPS leadership, design and build the TPS development strategy to support TPSs forthcoming strategic plan and achieve current and long-term (3-5 year) goals for growth;
  • Translate high-level donor strategy into a detailed annual implementation plan, including activities, priorities, and milestones;
  • Establish systems, processes, and tools to effectively implement development activities, including donor records, activities, and priorities;
  • Ensure fundraising communications, materials, and messaging are representative of and aligned to broader TPS goals and mission;
  • Work closely with the CEO and Medical Director to provide administrative and project management support for the board of directors and any advisory groups.

Donor Cultivation & Stewardship

  • Drive staff and board team to achieve ambitious goals, resulting in multi-million dollars in new operating and capital commitments toward The Primary School's vision over the course of TPSs new strategic plan;
  • Develop effective identification, cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship strategies of new donor prospects, current donors, and other supporters;
  • Support TPS Leadership to build key donor relationships, strategically leveraging their time and workflow;
  • In partnership with CEO, host donor cultivation activities, including planning and administration of tours, events, and meetings to communicate TPS work to supporters to meet organizational goals.

External Communications

  • Lead the ongoing development and iteration of a comprehensive communications strategy;
  • Work with staff at TPSs sites to ensure messaging reflects and supports local community needs and relationships;
  • Collaborate with program leaders and learning team to document and share knowledge and emerging best practices;
  • Identify, vet, and support speaking, presentation, and publication opportunities, in collaboration with program and site leaders and staff;
  • Manage the TPS brand, ensuring consistent look, style, feel, and language for communications;
  • Manage TPS communications channels, including the website and social media presence, along with collateral development such as the annual report and newsletters;
  • Manage all media contacts and act as an organizational spokesperson with press;
  • Manage systems to track external contacts to ensure ongoing communication with stakeholders

For all of these areas, the VP External Relations will be responsible for:

  • Collaborating with program and functional leads from across the organization
  • Developing and managing project plans, including coordination of other resources
  • Reporting regularly on progress
  • Managing project budgets
  • Soliciting regular feedback to improve effectiveness and progress towards goals


  • The VP External Relations will manage a small team of development and communications staff (currently 2 FTE), with room for growth aligned with organizational needs.


  • 7-10+ years of experience in nonprofit management, specifically in development, program administration, communications, marketing and/or a public relations role
  • Superior strategic planning experience with the ability to develop development and communications strategies that align with and support the organizations key priorities and goals.
  • A track record of success in developing fundraising and/or communications strategies for a growing organization (ideally fundraising experience would be in major gifts from foundations and individuals)
  • Exceptional communication skills (written and verbal) and ability to tailor complex issues into thoughtful powerful messaging
  • Experience navigating all aspects of donor management and relationship cultivation, in particular, discerning priorities of prospective investors and developing relationships into strategic partnerships and long-term support
  • Strong grant management skills, with the ability to track deadlines, draft compelling proposals and detailed reports, and knowledge of and experience supporting donor tracking software
  • Experience developing clear and compelling materials in a variety of formats
  • Ability to connect with and tailor messaging to diverse stakeholders
  • Ability to work collaboratively and build and manage internal stakeholder relationships to achieve goals
  • Comfort in ambiguity and environments that change rapidly
  • Practiced habits of organization and project management, and can quickly move back and forth between the 30,000 foot and on-the-ground levels
  • Possess natural problem-solving skills, fixer, and finder of resources; when the going gets tough, you are calm under pressure and show excellent judgment
  • The ability to motivate peers and colleagues to get things done
  • You want to work with and learn from all TPS team members, from early childhood education to parent coaching to community engagement.
  • Passion for the mission of The Primary School and belief that all children and adults can achieve extraordinary things.

A Plus If

  • You have lived or worked in communities in which The Primary School is working--East Palo Alto, Belle Haven, and/or Hayward, CA
  • An eye for design: experience designing collateral, or working with vendors to communicate vision for a project


Compensation is commensurate with qualifications and experience, plus excellent health benefits, 401k retirement plan, flexible spending account (FSA), dependent care FSA, and generous paid time off, including a competitive paid parental leave benefit. Annual salary range begins at $170,000.

The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met by an employee to successfully perform the essential functions of this position. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the functions. While performing the duties of this position, the employee is regularly required to talk, hear, and communicate with both adults and children. The employee frequently is required to use hands or fingers, handle or feel objects, tools, or controls. The employee is frequently required to stand, walk, sit, and reach with hands and arms. The employee must occasionally lift and/or move up to 50 pounds. Specific vision abilities required by this position include close vision, distance vision, and the ability to adjust focus. The noise level in the work environment is moderate to high.

For additional questions about this position or to speak with someone about your interest, please contact Hadley Kornacki at

The Primary School is an equal opportunity employer and an organization that values diversity. Recruiting staff to create an inclusive organization is a priority, and we encourage applicants from all backgrounds. Candidates are evaluated solely on their qualifications to perform the work required.

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The Primary School, Vice President, External Relations

Edgility Consulting