Organization: SCS Noonan Scholars

Location: Los Angeles, CA or Boston, MA

Express Interest

About SCS Noonan Scholars:

South Central Scholars was first formed in Los Angeles in 2001, and quickly achieved impressive results serving high-achieving, low-income students. Three years ago, founders Jim and Trisha London decided to replicate their program in Boston, under the name Noonan Scholars, as a pilot for further regional, and eventual national, expansion. Having achieved successful outcomes in Boston, the organization has gone national under the SCS Noonan Scholars flag, as one fully merged organization. SCS Noonan Scholars will serve the top low-income students of color from across the country with the same refined model they have been doing locally in L.A. and Boston for years.

SCS Noonan Scholars’ Results

Nationally, less than 1 in 2 low-income students of color attend a college that is as selective as one they can get into. With SCS Noonan Scholars, 80% of Scholars enroll in top 100 colleges, compared to less than 50% for similar students nationally, and these Scholars have better access to no-loan or low-loan financial aid packages in their chosen colleges.

Less than 1 in 4 low-income students of color who intend to major in STEM or other rigorous majors are able to persist and graduate in that major. SCS Noonan Scholars are three times more likely to do so.  And 90% of their Scholars graduate from college within six years, compared with similar students who graduate at a rate of 80%.

SCS Noonan Scholars envisions a world in which high-achieving students from low-income families have the same opportunities to attend, thrive at, and graduate from top colleges as their higher-income peers. To realize this vision, SCS Noonan Scholars employs a holistic, comprehensive program to ensure their Scholars have the key opportunities they need from their junior year in high school through college graduation, and into their first job. These opportunities include:

Pre-College Counseling and Test Prep

Through targeted outreach and tailored college guidance, SCS Noonan Scholars advises high school students and their families on the application and financial aid process with an emphasis on highly selective colleges, and helps students apply, gain admission to, and attend top-ranked universities. Applying to and attending a selective “best fit” college is critical for low-income students. These colleges have smaller class sizes, higher student satisfaction, rich diversity programs, no-loan or low-loan financial aid packages, and higher graduation rates for low-income students. Yet, less than 1 in 2 low-income students of color attend a college that is as selective as one they could get into. SCS Noonan Scholars works to reverse this trend by offering their students SAT prep courses, assisting with college applications and essays, and connecting them to top-tier colleges that they might not otherwise have known.

Summer Academy

Summer Academy is a 6- to 7-week comprehensive, residential, academic enrichment program designed to offset the discrepancy in academic preparation between many low-income students and those from more affluent high schools. Nationally, less than 1 in 4 low-income students of color at the most selective colleges who want to major in STEM or other rigorous majors are able to graduate in that major. Instead, students frequently enter college with inadequate math and writing skills, struggle in their first year, and are counseled to switch to less rigorous majors. Summer Academy’s combination of intensive academic instruction and college counseling works to combat this trend and ensure that students are prepared to succeed in college. Summer Academy participants’ average freshman year GPA is 3.3 compared to 2.9 for nonparticipants. Participants are also 50% more likely to earn an A in college calculus, while non-participants are 60% more likely to receive a D or F.  The program is offered at no cost to students to ensure that all qualified students are able to attend and students leave with the academic competencies and determination to thrive at a selective college.

Financial Scholarships

SCS Noonan Scholars provides four-year bridge scholarships to cover the needs unmet by students’ financial aid packages. While they encourage and support their Scholars to attend no-loan and low-loan colleges, there often remains a gap in the financial circumstances of Scholars. To reduce their Scholars’ financial burden and ensure that they are able to stay focused on their college education, SCS Noonan Scholars gives scholarship from $1,000 to $2,500 per year to be used for miscellaneous expenses like books, dorm supplies, and transportation costs.

Individual College Support

SCS Noonan Scholars provides holistic support for all Scholars throughout college to help them remain academically competitive and maintain their financial aid. They connect Scholars to on-campus resources, provide ongoing coaching, and help Scholars who might be struggling academically or socially develop improvement plans. They also recruit and oversee upperclassmen Scholars who serve as “Regional Directors,” creating a peer support group for SCS Noonan Scholars on the same campus.


The SCS Noonan Scholars Mentorship Program partners Scholars with a professional mentor while they are in college. Mentors help Scholars navigate the transition to college, guide them in critical decision-making, provide guidance and one-on-one support, expose them to different career paths, and often serve as the first person in their network.

Career Development

SCS Noonan Scholars aims to expand their Scholars professional opportunities with targeted career counseling and professional development workshops. Often, low-income and first-generation students are familiar with high-paying jobs such as medicine and law, but due to a lack of exposure, are unfamiliar with other career options, such as those in research, finance, technology, or computer science. SCS Noonan Scholars offers students webinars, workshops, and conferences to help Scholars understand their interests and skills and learn how to apply them in different industries. They work with their Scholars and alumni to provide them with resume reviews, mock interviews, and other supports.

Access to a Network for Internships and Jobs

Through the SCS Noonan Scholars network and their corporate partnerships, their Scholars are connected to internships and jobs during college, allowing them to explore diverse career paths. During their internships, Scholars begin to network with professionals in their chosen fields and build a professional portfolio of skills and interests. As a result of their corporate partners, SCS Noonan Scholars alumni are entering the workforce across a broad spectrum of industries including numerous Fortune 500 corporations and top law firms.

The Opportunity:

The Chief Advancement Officer (CAO), a new chief-level position, will develop and lead SCS Noonan’s strategy for expanding philanthropic support, and play a critical role in building the brand and impact of the newly merged organization. This is a compelling opportunity for a highly experienced and entrepreneurial leader to build a robust, diversified, best-practices advancement program that will provide the capacity for continued expansion of SCS Noonan’s fundraising and external relations efforts and results.

The SCS Noonan board of trustees is currently finalizing a new strategic plan for the merged organization, which includes a goal of doubling the number of incoming scholars by 2020.  To support the organization’s growth from its current budget of $4.5M, the CAO will create and lead a comprehensive development strategy in partnership with the CEO, Founders and executive team, and oversee the strategic alignment of regional and national fundraising efforts.  S/he will grow, manage, and support a geographically dispersed and diverse team, and will design and implement the infrastructure needed to support ambitious fundraising goals. The CAO will lead the efforts to expand support from existing donors, and cultivate and engage new individual, foundation and corporate supporters.

In addition, the CAO will strengthen SCS Noonan’s brand and lead integrated communications efforts that support program and revenue goals. This leader will proactively build strong relationships with the Board, alumni and families, donors, the community, peer organizations and other partners, and lead outreach to these stakeholders.

Key Responsibilities

  • Develop and be accountable for a comprehensive, multi-year fundraising plan, in partnership with the Founders, CEO, national board and executive leadership team.
  • Oversee a $4-5M fundraising portfolio across the greater Boston and Los Angeles regions, providing expertise in soliciting and cultivating donors at the six- and seven-figure giving levels with the highest degree of professionalism and sophistication.
  • Lead and drive the identification, initiation, and development of strategic partnerships to further SCS Noonan’s mission and cultivate the brand, particularly among potential corporate partners.
  • Identify opportunities for increased giving capacity and develop multi-faceted solicitation for existing and new prospects and donors.
  • Develop, mentor, inspire and support a geographically diverse development team, working thoughtfully to balance and integrate the culture across both regions.
  • Develop a comprehensive brand strategy and lead the creation of appropriate marketing and communications materials.
  • Foster collaboration between the development team and other teams at SCS Noonan, including programming and operations, with the goal to build and sustain a successful philanthropic culture.
  • Provide oversight of all development operations and processes, including annual fund, corporate and foundation grant writing and reporting, and metrics and systems to support major/principal gift identification, cultivation, and solicitation.
  • Oversee all stewardship activities including donor acknowledgement, donor recognition, pledge reminders, and donor record accuracy.
  • Manage relationship between SCS Noonan and 1,400 Scholars and Alumni, including managing the coordination of engagement activities and other strategic opportunities both locally and nationwide, overseeing promotion and staff support.

Core Competencies:

Reporting to the CEO, the Chief Advancement Officer (CAO) will have the proven skills and track record to provide leadership and guidance for development, communications and strategic partnerships. The CAO will be an accomplished, mission-driven advancement leader who will be a thought partner to the CEO and have an entrepreneurial outlook towards capacity-building and development strategy. The CAO will be proactive and collaborative in identifying opportunities with Board of Trustees and Directors to deepen the growing base of SCS Noonan donors, and will have the poise and sophistication to engage with high-level corporate executives, high net worth donors and key stakeholders.

The Chief Advancement Officer will be a bold thinker and a strategic, ‘hands-on’ executor, who will help the senior leadership at SCS Noonan maximize the organization’s impact and reach through thoughtful outreach, data-driven planning and innovative approaches to cultivating new sources of revenue. This individual will have a strong business sense while bringing a genuine passion for the mission of the organization, approaching the work with empathy and integrity.

An expert communicator, the CAO will have the knowledge and keen understanding to lead messaging, branding and marketing for the organization, successfully guiding the brand of the organization through its early stages with new strategic partners, potential donors and other key stakeholders.

Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree. This role will require approximately 30% domestic travel, and may occasionally require more extensive travel. The role can be based in either Boston, MA or Los Angeles, CA.

Ideal candidates will have at least 7-10 years of progressive responsibility in similar or related roles and possess the following key competencies and attributes:

Strategic Leadership: A trustworthy thought partner to the CEO and the Board, the Chief Advancement Officer will be a strategic thinker with the vision and experience to inform decision-making around development, communications, community engagement, advocacy and marketing. The CAO will make sound decisions that prioritize the long-term goals of the organization and the impact on the diverse communities the organization serves in both regional markets. This individual will actively solicit feedback while being seen as an expert in these areas, and have the strength of character to work effectively in advising other senior leaders.

The CAO will have robust analytic and quantitative skills and the ability to think creatively and collaboratively. This leader will be an intuitive planner with a demonstrated ability to set priorities, and develop and implement thoughtful, clear, action-oriented growth strategies. The CAO will have humility and agility, and will be able to navigate multiple priorities, shift direction as needed, and make practical decisions in a timely, thoughtful way.

Advancement and Development Expertise: The Chief Advancement Officer will be an experienced leader with a successful record of building comprehensive, best-practices advancement programs, and demonstrated expertise across a wide range of fundraising and communications channels. This leader will have successfully identified, cultivated, solicited and stewarded individual major/principal gift donors, foundations, and corporate donors. With a high-touch approach, the CAO will be a flexible, self-motivated team player who will serve as expert counsel to the CEO, Board and regional development teams in identifying and devising fundraising strategies that address SCS Noonan’s goals.

This leader will have the knowledge, experience, and leadership skills needed to create and implement a strategic development and advancement program for SCS Noonan. The CAO will lead strategic planning, build and mentor a highly functioning team, and create the infrastructure and processes that enable SCS Noonan to significantly expand philanthropic support for its mission.

Additionally, the CAO will have demonstrated ability to guide the creation and delivery of compelling marketing, branding and communications strategies, and the capacity to serve as an effective spokesperson and build productive relationships for SCS Noonan with a wide range of constituencies.

Relationship Builder, Collaborator and Manager: A persuasive, confident member of the senior leadership team, the CAO will be an engaged, active listener, able to communicate effectively with a broad group of stakeholders. The CAO will demonstrate honesty, fairness, humor, a willingness to listen and an understanding of the cultural nuances of working with various partners and key stakeholders.

The CAO will build, coach, motivate and retain a strong team of professionals that is focused on impact, excellence, accountability and efficiency. This individual will be an advocate for and mentor to staff and peer leadership, empowering and cultivating staff through active and effective communication, honest and constructive feedback, and delegation.

This individual will have an inherent ability to listen intently, think clearly, and respond effectively to a variety of relevant challenges, able to remain firm and steady in delicate situations and in high-level strategic discussions. A natural consensus-builder, the CAO will be comfortable with ambiguity and have the persistence to drive process forward through collaboration and dedication.

Passion for the Mission: The Chief Advancement Officer will embrace and have a true passion for the mission of SCS Noonan Scholars and its impact on low-income communities of color. The CAO will have the character and pioneering mindset to build and lead a comprehensive advancement program for SCS Noonan as it begins a dynamic stage of organizational transformation and expansion. The CAO will be a collaborative team player, working closely with senior leaders to position SCS Noonan to achieve the greatest possible impact in both regional markets and across the country. The CAO will be driven by the mission to transform education, create opportunities for students, and influence change.


SCS Noonan Scholars has engaged Koya Leadership Partners to help in this hire. This search is being led by Michelle Bonoan and Sheila Hennessey. Please submit a compelling cover letter and resume here.

Equal Employment Opportunity Policy
SCS Noonan Scholars provides equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment and prohibits discrimination and harassment based on race, color, religion, gender, gender identity, national origin, sexual orientation, age, disability, or veteran status.

About Koya Leadership Partners:

Koya Leadership Partners is a national retained executive search and human capital consulting firm that works exclusively with mission-driven organizations, institutions of higher education and social enterprises. We deliver measurable results, finding exceptionally talented people who truly fit the unique culture of our client organizations and ensuring that organizations have the resources and strategies to support them. For more information about Koya Leadership Partners, visit