Organization: High Jump

Location: Chicago, IL

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About High Jump:

High Jump equalizes access to education for middle school students who have exhibited academic ambition and potential and who are of limited economic means. High Jump provides academic enrichment, counseling and support programs to students of diverse backgrounds, with the goal of sending students to superior college preparatory schools, ensuring their success while they are there and enhancing their ability to gain admission to highly regarded four-year colleges and universities.

High Jump began as a partnership among the Latin School of Chicago, Francis W. Parker School and the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation to ensure that students’ access to an outstanding secondary school education would not be limited by lack of information, limitations of schools or personal financial resources.

Today, High Jump is a tuition-free, two-year, academic enrichment program for seventh and eighth grade students performing in the top third academically (typically earning A’s and B’s) with limited financial resources. The program recruits public and parochial school students from over 47 Chicago neighborhoods who display academic promise but are not already benefitting from advanced instruction, gifted services, or other forms of targeted academic support.

High Jump operates three campuses in Chicago at the Latin School of Chicago, University of Chicago Laboratory Schools and Francis W. Parker School and consists of six weeks of daily intensive programming in the summer and two to three Saturdays each month during the school year. This amounts to more than 350 instructional hours annually, or 33% more class time, beyond students’ regular schooling.

Through the High Jump experience, students build academic and social skills, grow in self-confidence and make critical decisions about next steps in their academic careers. The program has had great success in fulfilling its mission, as evidenced by its extraordinary alumni.

Since its founding in 1989, High Jump has prepared more than 1,000 students for entrance into top parochial, public and independent college preparatory schools. Each year roughly 3,000 students in Chicago could qualify for High Jump. High Jump has seen record growth in the last few years. With over 1,000 applications this year, High Jump is currently serving 360 students a year, 180 per class.

Governed by a 36 member Board of Trustees, High Jump’s FY16 budget is approximately $2.2 million, which has grown from $1.3M in FY13. In FY15, High Jump raised $1.9 million and has increased the goal to raise $2.2 million for FY16, which will contribute to the organization’s continued recent growth.

For more information on High Jump, please visit

The Opportunity:

In 2017, High Jump is at a critical moment in the organization’s trajectory. For 25 years, High Jump has been delivering the highest quality academic programs as measured by test scores, high school and college placement and student satisfaction. Over the last five years, to meet the growing needs of the children of Chicago, the program has tripled in size. To sustain the organization’s growth, maintain the commitment to quality and academic rigor and position the organization for further expansion and impact, High Jump needs an exceptional leader for this next chapter.

The next Executive Director will provide strategic and innovative leadership to guide the organization to further growth and impact with students. The Executive Director will focus on broadening the organization’s reach within Chicago, fundraising, operational effectiveness and core mission delivery.

The Executive Director will be a highly visible member of the community, representing High Jump to the partner schools and throughout the Chicago region. S/he will have operational responsibility for High Jump’s programs and staff and will ensure High Jump’s staff of eight and annual teaching staff of 40 are working effectively to support and advance the mission.

The Executive Director will embody High Jump’s strong commitment to its students and will work tirelessly to promote the organization throughout the community, accelerating its impact and brand recognition. S/he will attract talent to the organization and will support High Jump’s strong team to reach new pinnacles of success.

The Executive Director will be instrumental in helping High Jump achieve its potential and continue to strengthen impact in Chicago. Key metrics for success of this role include:

  • Achieving strong fundraising success through deepening and sustaining relationships with committed supporters and growing High Jump’s donor base;
  • Elevating High Jump’s brand throughout the Chicago region and expanding the organization’s reach within the partner school communities and Chicago’s education landscape; and
  • Partnering effectively with the Board of Trustees and staff to build on the success of the program to continually innovate and improve outcomes for students.

Candidate Profile:

The Executive Director will be passionate about fulfilling High Jump’s mission. S/he will have the character, confidence and personality to effectively engage with a broad range of constituents while expanding High Jump’s reach and access throughout the Chicago region.

The ideal candidate will have the following personal and professional competencies and characteristics:

An ‘Ambassador’ for High Jump

The Executive Director will be a high-energy, charismatic leader who will serve as an ‘Ambassador’ for High Jump. S/he will have an executive and mission-driven presence and will be able to effectively articulate and convey High Jump’s mission and priorities to a range of constituents including donors, partner schools, students, parents, Board of Trustees, staff and Chicago Public Schools. The Executive Director will have an inspirational approach to building collaboration and buy-in and generating support from all stakeholders. As the external voice of the organization, s/he will articulate the vision of High Jump to its current supporting community and future stakeholders. The Executive Director must be a confident public speaker ready to help expand High Jump’s donor base while continuing to grow its reach and impact throughout Chicago. The Executive Director will be an inspirational and team-focused leader of unquestioned integrity, ethics and values; someone who can be trusted without reservation.

Fundraising and Development

The Executive Director will be a demonstrated or emergent leader in the field of development. S/he will embrace High Jump’s unique structure and will have the savvy to expand the organization’s development capacity. S/he will work in partnership with the Board, development team and partner schools to achieve fundraising success and broaden High Jump’s donor base. S/he will have a strong orientation towards data and analysis and an ability to use metrics to drive development decisions and achieve strategic objectives. The Executive Director will adopt an entrepreneurial approach to expanding and deepening new and existing donor support.

Strategic Leadership and Management

The Executive Director will be a strategic, yet hands-on leader, who will work with the Board and staff to build out the plan to achieve High Jump’s vision for continued impact and growth. S/he will offer creative, yet practical, ideas to continue to enhance the High Jump student experience and will develop innovative partnerships across Chicago Public Schools and Chicago’s education landscape. S/he will be a creative leader who is not afraid to take risks in support of the mission. The Executive Director will have strong financial and operational experience to continually improve High Jump’s programs and outcomes. S/he will have a successful track record in staff management, development and Board relations.


Alexandra Corvin and Alison Ranney of Koya Leadership Partners have been exclusively retained for this search. To express your interest in this role please email Alex and Alison directly at All inquiries and discussions will be considered strictly confidential.

About Koya Leadership Partners:

Koya Leadership Partners is a national retained executive search firm that works exclusively with nonprofits. 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