Established in the Fall of 1999 by major Washington area corporations and foundation partners, DC-CAP is a privately funded nonprofit organization dedicated to encouraging and enabling DC public high school students to enroll in and graduate from college.
In 2008, the program expanded to include all DC public charter schools. Now, in partnership with DC public and public charter school systems, DC-CAP provides direct counseling and financial assistance to students who might otherwise never have the opportunity to attend and graduate from college. Additionally, DC-CAP works in partnership with the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), corporate partners, community colleges, universities, and other college access programs.
The overwhelming majority of students served by DC-CAP are from under-served, minority, single-parent households and are the first in their families to attend college.
DC-CAP is unique from other college access programs around the country for two reasons. First, every DC public and public charter high school student is eligible for DC-CAP services, regardless of academic history, grade point average, family income, citizenship status, ethnicity, special education eligibility, delinquency, or juvenile criminal history. Unlike other programs, DC-CAP believes in an expansive approach to college access. Whereas many other programs set criteria that disqualify students from participation, the principle operating philosophy at DC-CAP is that every single high school student has the right to an opportunity to improve their quality of life through a college education. The second unique feature of DC-CAP is that it continues to support the students for up to five years after high school graduation so that they have the best chance of completing their education.
DC-CAP offers a variety of programming for DC students and families to support every young person in our community in achieving their greatest potential through education.
High School Students: DC-CAP advisors are housed in the DC-CAP College Information Resource Centers (CIRC) located in each DC public and public charter high school. There they provide direct college counseling services to all high school students in grades 9 to 12 through individualized meetings, group sessions, written materials, and specialized workshops.
College Students: DC-CAP works with all public and public charter high school graduates for up to five years after graduation to make sure they are able to complete their college education. Advisors track students’ progress and provide individual services including mentoring; academic, financial aid and administrative support; a toll-free hotline; on-campus visits by retention staff; college representatives; regular financial aid and scholarship correspondence; and, summer pre-college programs.
Parents: DC-CAP believes that parental/guardian involvement is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty and ensuring student success. Therefore, parental education and support is a key part of DC-CAP’s program. DC-CAP provides multiple parent workshops and information sessions throughout the year to assist parents with college application questions, financial aid, and college enrollment information.
DC-CAP is fortunate to have an extraordinary base of support dedicated to strengthening D.C. youth. The DC-CAP Board of Directors represents the support and commitment of major corporations and foundations in the Washington, DC area. Chairman, Ted Leonsis (CEO and Majority Owner, Monumental Sports & Entertainment), leads the DC-CAP Board which is comprised of prominent corporate and community leaders such as Donald E. Graham (DC-CAP Founding Chairman and Chairman of Graham Holdings Company) and Katherine Bradley (Founder and Chair of CityBridge) to name a few.
Click here to view the entire DC-CAP Board of Directors.
DC College Access Program (DC-CAP) has helped more than 35,000 D.C. students attend college. Nearly 60 percent of D.C. public-high-school graduates now pursue postsecondary education — up from less than a third when DC-CAP began which is on par with the national average, despite the District’s high rate of poverty.
DC-CAP’s culture embraces an innovative environment where the DC-CAP team puts the needs of students first and opens doors for all students to achieve their greatest potential. The organization is unique, ambitious and data-driven in its commitment to standing shoulder to shoulder with students and their families, ensuring that college is an option for all.
In 1999, Argelia Rodriguez took on a challenging role with two core missions: doubling the rate of D.C. students who enroll in college and tripling the number of those who graduate. After achieving incredible impact throughout her tenure, Argelia is stepping down at the end of the school year. The organization is in solid financial, operational and programmatic health. The incoming President & CEO will have a stellar foundation to build upon as DC-CAP currently has an endowment of approximately $100M in assets.
A New Strategic Direction
As the organization enters a new chapter of transition and evolves its strategy, the Board seeks a visionary leader for the future who will build on DC-CAP’s strong foundation and transition operations from an intensive direct services model to becoming a strategic partner to colleges and universities as well as the school system. This operational shift will focus on providing scholarship resources and increasing college matriculation; and, in essence, launch DC-CAP 2.0 with a refined focus on vision, strategy, fundraising, succession planning and key performance metrics. The ultimate goal would be to have students graduate in 4 years and return to the District to become part of the workforce and contribute to the growing D.C. community.
Creating success measures and growing stakeholder engagement will be key responsibilities of the executive. With a high degree of personal engagement in the community, the President & CEO will be expected to be a brand evangelist and resource builder for the organization advancing DC-CAP’s mission—to encourage students and their families to make college a reality.
In the first year, the executive should expect to spend a significant amount of time forging meaningful relationships with multiple stakeholders to include the team, board, donors, schools, colleges and universities, and as many key constituents as possible to engage and cement relationships. Of equal importance is the need to complete the current strategic plan and lay the foundation for the next, focusing on achieving fundraising goals, and driving programmatic outcomes. This will be of paramount importance in increasing DC-CAP’s impact in the District of Columbia.
Reporting to and in conjunction with the Chairman and Board of Directors of DC-CAP, the President & CEO establishes and executes the mission and strategic vision of DC-CAP. The President & CEO is responsible for:
- driving mission to the overall success of the organization
- building resources and advancing reputation
- shaping organizational culture and providing visionary leadership and guidance to the senior management team
- developing a strong operational and programmatic model with associated infrastructure.
This is an ideal opportunity for an entrepreneurial, innovative, forward-thinking leader to help advance the organization to its next stage of development by reimaging the possibilities of DC-CAP’s impact and growth, with attention to changing dynamics and strategic shifts. The primary objectives will be to ready the organization for serving the next generation of young people in the D.C. community, attract the best talent and ensure they are highly engaged in the mission. Other objectives will be to advance the work and culture of the organization, as well as assist both staff and students in realizing their talents and create opportunities for successful careers.
DC-CAP has a 2022 budget of just over $15M and a staff of 30 full-time employees and volunteers, managed through a 4-person leadership team reporting to the President & CEO: Executive VP Programs, Senior VP of Partnerships, the VP College Retention/Data Management, and an outsourced CFO.
The President & CEO must create authentic and valuable community connections. The leader will be expected to employ best-in-class methodologies to assess impact and alignment with peer organizations. The President & CEO must be prepared to lead the organization’s efforts to bring attention to and address the disparate impact and inequity of race, economics and privilege on students in Wards 7 and 8 of the city. As a leader, the President & CEO should be prepared to evaluate the wide range of systems, messaging and other contributing factors that affect equal access to the opportunities DC-CAP values.
The President & CEO must leverage their experience in strategic planning to help to chart the organization’s critical path to success over the next five years. The President & CEO must be an enthusiastic fundraiser and brand evangelist—working with donors, leaders, and representatives from all sectors – students, parents, community, local and federal government, CEOs of corporations, foundations, in addition to a wide range of media outlets. The President & CEO will be a liaison to a number of constituencies.
Relying heavily on the senior leadership team, the President & CEO must be an innovative and accomplished administrator and problem solver, with demonstrated leadership experience, excellent organizational skills, financial acumen and proven success in supporting a world class leadership team and managing a strong, diverse staff within a complex organization.
The responsibility for the overall management and direction of programs, activities, operations and other affairs of the organization rests with the President & CEO. DC-CAP is a complex institution with an impressive range of activities, requirements, and stakeholders. The President & CEO’s will be accountable for oversight of this well-regarded entity and serve as the voice for the organization’s mission and goals.
- Responsible for the successful implementation of the DC-CAP’s goals and objectives by providing proactive leadership, ensuring positive public relations, exercising sage fiscal management, liaising with stakeholders, complying with legal and ethical standards, and promoting organizational development.
- Provide leadership and oversight to all departments within DC-CAP.
- Work directly with DC-CAP leadership, to coordinate communication and advocacy strategy to advance DC-CAP as the largest provider of scholarships in the District of Columbia.
- Promote a supportive diverse, inclusive and effective team environment. Provide adequate direction on training and mentorship to assure growth and development of staff expertise.
- Oversee and direct all fiscal, budgetary and financial planning matters.
- Ensure all resources are managed to effectively support operations and strategic goals.
- Oversight of all programs, communications, and operations. Ensure consistent production of high-quality effective work products and constantly seek to improve processes, program activities, and organizational impact.
- Develop and direct programs that leverage opportunities within the philanthropic community to include, but is not limited to, local and national strategic partnerships, and building deep relationships with parents, students, and supporters.
- Shape key policy initiatives and program activities, to include research, analysis and reporting on emerging issues.
- Oversee all campaigns and organizational support programs, to include evaluating for effectiveness and impact.
- Monitor, track, analyze, validate and report on performance measures relative to the organization’s strategic goals and objectives.
- Focus board activities by providing context to support strategic and broader framework discussions such as vision, landscape, planning and funding objectives.
- Support the Board of Directors in its work of leadership and vision with associated reporting and materials in pursuit of measurable outcomes and impact.
- Serve as a non-voting member of the Board of Directors.
- Work with the Board of Directors (in conjunction with program and development staff) to develop the most impactful programmatic infrastructure that aligns with mission and vision.
- Perform other duties assigned by the Board of Directors to achieve organizational goals.
- Refresh the Board of Directors to assist with broadening the donor base to be more reflective of the everchanging landscape of the District.
- Oversee DC-CAP’s fundraising efforts to include working with the development team to ensure events are appropriate, on budget and produce a measurable ROI.
- Strategic fundraising from a myriad of sources (individual, corporate, foundation, etc…).
- Direct development efforts to increase funding for individual programs and general operations.
- Provide leadership, engage and support the efforts of the development team to include cultivating funders and major gift activities. Other duties include the approval of grant preparation, funding proposals and associated reporting.
- Engage with partner organizations and coalitions by regularly participating in external meetings and identifying opportunities for collaboration and shared advocacy on issues related to college access, retention and matriculation.
- Weave together the multiple constituencies and stakeholders to build progressive and cohesive alignment around the work of the organization.
Competencies and Selection Criteria
- Mission-Driven – A mission-driven and strategic visionary with demonstrated track record of commitment to community engagement through their career and volunteerism.
- Executive Presence / Political Savvy – A well-regarded reputation and the demonstrated ability to serve as the senior representative of DC-CAP and navigate up and down the continuum of key stakeholders ranging from parents, children, and educators to elected officials. The President and CEO must bring collaborative and inclusive leadership style and must be a multifaceted communicator and executive. The leader must communicate effectively in a wide variety of public and intimate situations and have a proven ability to expand and strengthen relationships authentically with a multitude of stakeholders.
- Executive Level Experience – Experience as a leader with strong business acumen, future-orientation, and executive leadership in fluctuating external environments. Ability to lead through influence and facilitation, respecting the unique knowledge of others while driving solutions that best serve the organization. Candidates will have a record of establishing clear goals and guiding an organization to achieve them. He/she will also have demonstrated an inspiring, collaborative leadership style that is essential for success at DC-CAP.
- Fundraising – The chief executive will play a strong role as ambassador and fundraiser. The board seeks a leader who has played a key role in growing revenue from a broad base of new and existing funding sources. Willing and able to champion DC-CAP’s mission, influence others to join the DC-CAP team “at the table.”
- Innovation & Strategic Growth – Proven ability to identify and implement growth and innovation opportunities for the organization in alignment with the development of a long-term strategic plan that, in deep partnership with the community, considers community assets and needs, national best practices including return on investment, evidence-based knowledge, and critical policy and funding priorities/opportunities. Evidence of past accomplishments denoting someone who can drive strategy forward and deliver on significant goals.
- Talent Development – Leading role in the recruitment and development of top talent; and retention of top talent. Identified, hired, developed, and retained great people with a strong commitment to leadership development; displayed good judgment in recognizing talent; demonstrated a successful track record of recruiting and retaining a diverse and talented
- Inclusion – Advocates for and institutionalizes inclusion, diversity and racial equity throughout the organization and community. Works effectively with people of different backgrounds, abilities, opinions, and perceptions in their local community.
- Board Leadership – Deep experience fostering open dialogue between the Board and the leadership team of DC-CAP and facilitating agendas/discussions in a productive manner that reinforces the organizational strategy.
Nominations, inquiries, and expressions of interest (cover letter and resume) should be directed electronically to DCCAP@divsearch.com. All inquiries and communications will be handled confidentially.
Jason León, CPA
Managing Director & DC Managing Partner
Managing Director & Chief Legal Officer