Director of Communications and Marketing

Chicago Scholars

About Chicago Scholars:

Chicago Scholars is transforming the leadership landscape of our city by resolving the fundamental barriers to success for academically driven, first generation college students from under-resourced communities. Through college counseling, mentoring, and by providing a supportive community to our Scholars through each phase of our program: College Access (Launch), College Persistence (Lift) and College to Careers (Lead), we ensure that they realize their full potential as students and leaders.

86% of Chicago Scholars graduate college within 6 years. Per the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research, only 49% of their peers earn a degree within 6 years. Upon graduation, our Scholars move into leadership positions across Chicago, helping to drive the economic future of their communities and our thriving city.

Position Details

Director of Communications and Marketing
Chicago Illinois
Chicago, IL

Position Summary:

Chicago Scholars is seeking a dynamic communications expert to develop, lead, and manage an engaging content marketing strategy that positions us as leaders in our field. Integrating our programmatic strategy and vision, the Director of Communications and Marketing will be an essential leader on our Development Team to support fundraising efforts. The Director of Communications and Marketing will work to ensure Chicago Scholars presents a consistent and compelling marketing message, and that all of Chicago Scholars’ communications efforts are effectively targeting the intended audience(s) with particular emphasis on donors, individuals, Scholars, and partner colleges and universities.

This position works closely with colleagues throughout the organization in a fast-paced environment to understand and implement impactful marketing and communications programs and materials. This position specifically will assist the CEO with external relations efforts such as proposals and presentations. This role is ideal for someone who likes both developing and implementing strategy, including writing materials and multi-tasking to support many ongoing projects.

Key Responsibilities:

Strategy: Develop and manage multi-channel communications strategy that effectively describes and promotes the organization, its programs and impacts.

  • Develop campaigns that consistently integrate and coordinate all elements of marketing and communications 
  • Integrate organizational strategic plan, theory of change, values, and strategies around diversity, equity, and inclusion into organizational communications. 
  • Manage the Chicago Scholar’s brand, including maintaining consistency in the use of logo, language, etc. 
  • Develop media relations strategy, seeking high-level placements in print, broadcast and online media 
  • Identify opportunities for and build new stakeholder development projects that support Chicago Scholar’s goals, reach new stakeholders and build awareness of CS 
  • Evaluate opportunities for partnerships, sponsorships and advertising on an on-going basis 
  • Maintain a keen understanding of industry trends affecting clients and make appropriate recommendations regarding communication strategy surrounding them 
  • In collaboration with the Vice President of Development, develop and manage the budget for marketing and communications

Execution: Lead all public relations functions and oversee implementation of communications strategy on all channels including social media, web portals, web sites, printed materials for key stakeholders, including Scholars, Mentors, Volunteers, Parents, Employees, College Partners, Career Partners and Donors.

  • Manage calendar of communications deliverables, including the execution of at least 2 Annual Appeals to all stakeholders 
  • Develop key messaging campaigns that increase awareness of the CS brand and mission 
  • Coordinate all public relations activities, including support of communications materials for events 
  • Leverage existing media relationships and cultivate new contacts within business and industry media 
  • Manage media inquiries and interview requests 
  • Create written content for all key external documents and materials, including annual reports, website, one-pagers, brochures, etc. 
  • Create templates and branding guides to ensure consistency of communications materials across the organization 
  • Create content for press releases and keynote presentations 
  • Ensure quality control of organizational messaging and materials by creating standards and processes for review of materials shared externally 
  • Work in partnership with the data and evaluation team to ensure accurate promotion of program impacts 
  • Support proposal writing, as needed

Outcomes: Develop and compile performance measures to evaluate impact of communication program and tools.

  • Monitor, analyze and communicate PR results on a quarterly basis 
  • Solicit input from internal/external consumers 
  • Create reporting tools, press packets for Executive Team and Board 
  • Other duties, as assigned

Additional Responsibilities:

This role will occasionally work on nights and weekends for Scholar and development events and programming, and may have the opportunity to manage an intern. This role is also required to attend and support mandatory all staff events: the UnTied Gala, College Choice Celebration, New Student Orientation, All Scholar Retreat, First Look, the Onsite Admissions Forum, New Student Interview nights, and our Quarterly Staff Retreats.


  • Education: College degree required
  • Experience: 5-10 years experience total, with 3-5 years of relevant communications, content marketing, and PR experience required
  • Experience applying creative and innovative approaches to communications to support strategic positioning of organizations
  • Experience developing a market segmentation strategy to diverse audiences strongly preferred

Technical Knowledge:

Excellent communications writing skills and experience to cater to diverse stakeholders. Demonstrated technical knowledge in some or most of the areas below:

  • Proficiency with Squarespace, Wordpress, or similar website management system strongly preferred 
  • Proficiency with email management and creation software, particularly Emma or Pardot 
  • Familiarity with Google Analytics and other digital analytics tools. 
  • Moderate proficiency with basic HTML Coding preferred 
  • Photography and Videography; Web Design 
  • Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Acrobat Pro)

Core Competencies:

  • Strategic Thinking: The ability to think big picture about organizational vision, mission, and direction to guide planning and decision-making. Apply best practices, sector trends, market opportunities, new technologies, research, and innovative approaches to plan and set direction. Strategic planning also includes the ability to link macro long-term vision with daily work. 
  • Creativity and Innovation: The ability to craft organizational design and messaging in new and effective ways. Create and identify new approaches to address challenging situations and problems; develops new ideas or adapt ideas from elsewhere using best practices to create desired outcomes. 
  • Decision-Making: Effectively structures and facilitates decision-making processes; makes decisions effectively and responsibly to improve organizational health and impact. 
  • Communication: Strong interpersonal skills and the ability to build relationships with stakeholders, including staff, board members, external partners, and donors. Excellent writing skills. 
  • Growth Mindset: Views growth as important for personal and professional development; seeks out opportunities to expand skills, even if change is required. Ability to collect, enter and track accurate data to inform decision making. 
  • Adaptability and Flexibility: Ability to operate effectively and flexibly in changing contexts and operating environments. 
  • Collaboration & Teamwork: Demonstrates awareness and respect of cultural and individual values. 

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