Foundation for California Community Colleges,

Research Fellow

1 month ago
Employment type
Remote within California

Functional Title: Research Fellow

CALPERS Title: Specialist

Department: Success Center

Reports To: Senior Director, Policy Development, Success Center

FLSA Status: Exempt

Primary Work Location: 100% Remote within California, limited 1-year term

Last Updated: 03/24/2022

Flex Work Option: Some

Position Summary

The Foundation for California Community Colleges (Foundation) is on a mission to double its impact in the next 10 years. We are a group of relentless optimists and innovators in education, working collaboratively with public and private partners to help improve the student experience and expand pathways to economic and social mobility in communities across California. The Success Center for California Community Colleges (Success Center) provides strategic thought partnership, research, and analysis to the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office (Chancellor’s Office). Through professional development, policy development, and special projects, the Success Center assists the Chancellor’s Office in its effort to implement large-scale, systemwide student success reforms. The Policy and Research unit of the Success Center provides rigorous, actionable, and timely policy development, research, and data analysis support to the Chancellor’s Office, as it relates to student success through the implementation of the Guided Pathways framework and the goals set forth in the Vision for Success.

As part of the Success Center Fellowship program, we are looking for research fellows to support the Policy and Research unit’s research and data analysis efforts. The Success Center Fellowship Program is a unique opportunity for individuals with a distinct interest in action-oriented higher education research and a focus on the intersection between policy and research. This fellowship program will prepare the next generation of higher education policy researchers. Through the application of multi-faceted research practices, fellows will have the opportunity to apply their analytical and research skills to explore the policies and practices that advance California community college equity-minded reforms. Fellows will get hands-on experience applying timely research to policy development as they work towards the completion of a co-designed research project with the Policy and Research Unit. Fellows will also have the opportunity to develop topical briefs that will be shared system-wide on areas that promote student success.

Fellows will have the chance to enhance their skills by participating in professional development opportunities and contributing to the collegial atmosphere of the Policy and Research unit. Fellows will be able to attend Foundation and Chancellor’s Office systemwide webinars, professional development events, and legislative briefings and hearings. Additionally, fellows will participate in Policy and Research unit meetings and will have the opportunity to engage with Foundation and Chancellor’s Office staff as part of their research projects.

This Success Center Fellowship Program is a 1-year commitment ideal for current or recent graduate-level (both Master’s and Doctoral) students based in California. Fellows will be required to create a project scope of work for a topic that aligns with system-wide reforms or other Chancellor’s Office priorities. Where applicable, fellows will have the opportunity to align their research to their capstone project, thesis, or other graduate or post-doc completion requirements.

The Policy and Research unit’s work is rigorous, collaborative, and ever evolving. We are looking for candidates with strong research and analytical skills and a self-starter personality. Fellows will need to be able to work independently and as part of a team, receptive of feedback, and flexible to change direction when necessary. We are committed to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility. Racially minoritized students, students with disabilities, parenting students, and members of other underserved groups are encouraged to apply.

Essential Job Duties and Responsibilities


  • Track relevant research and policy proposals by national and state organizations that promote student success.
  • Conduct analysis of current higher education research (especially as it relates to the California Community Colleges and its Student Success initiatives), including reviewing academic publications, reports by nonprofit organizations, and reports from college campuses.
  • Conduct primary and secondary research such as surveys, landscape analysis, content analysis, and literature reviews to prepare topical policy briefs and to support policy development efforts.
  • Synthesize research findings to identify best practices and develop evidence-based recommendations on policy areas to advance student success.
  • Utilize a wide range of research methods, including primary and secondary research, analyze data and evaluate qualitative and quantitative information from internal and external sources.
  • Create research protocols to communicate research methodologies and develop project scopes of work.

Data Analysis:

  • Extract, collect and aggregate data across databases, information sources, survey responses, and other data sources.
  • Ensure data quality by cleaning and checking data for consistency and accuracy.
  • Use Chancellor’s Office data querying tools and other publicly available data sources to support research.
  • Develop an understanding of the Chancellor's Office Management Information System and data elements.
  • Create data visualizations using Microsoft Excel, STATA, or other data visualization tools.
  • Gather valuable insights from complex data and translate it into digestible findings or recommendations for a variety of audiences.

Project Support:

  • Resourceful and critical thinker with the ability to independently research topics and report back to the team.
  • Has the ability to be assigned unfamiliar topics, conduct research, become a content expert, manage the full cycle of a project, and make appropriate recommendations.
  • Exercises good judgment and effectiveness in working with a high-performing and fast-paced team.

Other Responsibilities:

  • Build and cultivate relationships internally and externally where appropriate, act as organizational brand ambassador as needed and provide business development support and input where there is opportunity.
  • Emulate and participate in a culture of shared leadership and promote organizational values.
  • Contribute to team effort by completing other projects and tasks as assigned.

Supervisory Responsibilities/Level of Supervision

  • This position does not supervise.
  • Proven ability to manage by influence and ability to build and maintain credibility.
  • Receives assignments from Senior Director and Success Center department leadership. Provided moderate instruction and a general direction as to professional goals and project involvement, as well as achievement of those goals. Evaluation is based on ability to perform essential job duties and responsibilities, as well as successful execution of tasks/projects.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

  • Familiarity with California’s higher education policy environment, the California Community College System, Education Codes, and the state legislative process.
  • Experience with conducting primary or secondary research, writing in-depth reports, and managing multiple projects with competing deadlines.
  • Experience writing literature reviews for a variety of audiences to examine the effectiveness of policies, interventions, and programs and assess the strength of study designs.
  • Ability to summarize large and diverse sets of existing research.
  • Have an understanding of data and data analysis tools, such as SQL, STATA, and Excel.
  • Ability to think creatively about policy solutions and their implementation.
  • Ability to communicate clearly and effectively through oral presentations and in writing.
  • Strong attention to detail, ensuring that communications and deliverables are accurate, professional, and audience appropriate.
  • Ability to work well, accurately, and with optimism in stressful, high-visibility situations.
  • Proficiency with Microsoft Office Suite (MS Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, and Excel).
  • Has a high level of discretion and good judgment.
  • Ability to take initiative and work collaboratively on a team.
  • Demonstrate integrity, trustworthiness, and respect.
  • Keen understanding of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) and ability to apply DEIA principles into research practices.

Attributes for Success

  • Passionate about providing students with stronger pathways to education and building a more just and equitable California overall.
  • A self-starter and quick learner who is highly motivated and outcome-oriented, always seeking innovative approaches to project execution.
  • A commitment to continuous improvement and professional development.
  • A strategic and creative thinker who can problem-solve, working within and across teams to swiftly respond to needs identified across the California Community Colleges.
  • Practices ownership, takes accountability, and has the ability to manage own work, prioritize tasks, and deliver quality products on time with limited supervision.
  • Ability to work on a fast-paced team and build and maintain collaborative working relationships with internal and external stakeholders.
  • Knowledge of, or willingness to learn about, the California Community College system and the Foundation’s mission.

Education and Experience

  • Relevant BA/BS, equivalent work experience, or a combination of both. Current or recent graduate-level (both Master’s and Doctoral) students preferred.
  • Minimum of three (3) + years of related work experience in policy research or a related field.
  • Any experience in an education or non-profit environment preferred.
  • Familiarity with the Community College system a plus.

Working Hours, Location, and Travel

This is a full-time position, 40 hours a week, with additional hours as needed to address the organization’s needs. This is a California-based position, with the flexibility to work remotely (in California) or in person at our Sacramento office. This position may require moderate travel to attend meetings, conferences, and perform other essential functions of the job.

Physical Requirements

The Foundation may make reasonable accommodations to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the job’s essential functions/physical requirements. The following physical requirements are essential to the performance of this position:

  • Must be able to remain in stationary position up to 4 hours at a time and 8 hours total in a day.
  • Ability to constantly work at a computer workstation for up to five consecutive days.
  • The person in this position frequently communicates with internal office staff and/or external third parties who have inquiries about their job tasks. Must be able to exchange accurate information in these situations.
  • Ability to frequently move and/or remain in a stationary position without breaks during meetings.
  • Ability to constantly operate a computer.
  • Ability to perform repetitive movements (e.g. typing and filing) and operate and use common office equipment (e.g. copy machine, printer, telephone).

Equal Employment Opportunity

The Foundation for California Community Colleges is committed to providing an environment of mutual respect where equal employment opportunities (EEO) are available to all employees and applicants without regard to race, color, ancestry, national origin, genetic characteristics, sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, marital/parental status, political affiliation, religion, age, disability, pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding or veteran status. In addition to federal law requirements, The Foundation for California Community Colleges complies with applicable state and local laws governing non-discrimination in employment.

As the official nonprofit auxiliary to the Chancellor's Office, we aim to ensure our team reflects the diversity of the California Community Colleges and the 2.1 million students, campuses, and communities it serves. Individuals are hired for their deep understanding of each population’s unique needs and will join a collaborative environment where each team member plays an important role in helping Californians across all communities improve their social and economic mobility and build a better future for themselves and their families.

To apply

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