Advancing Evaluation in Philanthropy Fellow (Center on Research and Evaluation)

About SMU

SMU’s more than 12,000 diverse, high-achieving students come from all 50 states and over 80 countries to take advantage of the University’s small classes, meaningful research opportunities, leadership development, community service, international study and innovative programs.

SMU serves approximately 7,000 undergraduates and 5,000 graduate students through eight degree-granting schools: Dedman College of Humanities and SciencesCox School of BusinessLyle School of EngineeringMeadows School of the ArtsSimmons School of Education and Human DevelopmentDedman School of LawPerkins School of Theology and Moody School of Graduate and Advanced Studies.

SMU is data driven, and its powerful supercomputing ecosystem – paired with entrepreneurial drive – creates an unrivaled environment for the University to deliver research excellence.

Now in its second century of achievement, SMU is recognized for the ways it supports students, faculty and alumni as they become ethical, enterprising leaders in their professions and communities. SMU’s relationship with Dallas – the dynamic center of one of the nation’s fastest-growing regions – offers unique learning, research, social and career opportunities that provide a launch pad for global impact.

SMU is nonsectarian in its teaching and committed to academic freedom and open inquiry.

About the Position:

This unique two-year Fellowship offers an opportunity for Fellows from traditionally underrepresented populations in the evaluation field to engage in evaluation in philanthropy work and to focus on future, impactful employment within the field of philanthropy. Working closely with the senior leadership team of the Center on Research and Evaluation (CORE), Fellows will meaningfully engage with evaluation projects across topic areas, with an emphasis on communication of findings to funders and empowering the evaluation capacity of grantees. Mentored by staff at the Walton Family Foundation (WFF), Fellows will gain exposure to the inner workings of philanthropy and develop skills related to grantmaking, translation of findings into actionable next steps, and the creation of a Capstone project. The role requires strong analytical skills, knowledge of social science research methods, and effective communication.

Essential Functions:

  • Project Coordination & Management: Provide support for and/or independently lead evaluation and philanthropy-specific tasks & deliverables. This includes working closely with team members and project leads on carrying out specific project activities such as managing time, staying within budget, troubleshooting data issues or requests, and facilitating communication between client and team. Fellows will engage in a minimum of 6 projects a year that include applied, meaningful engagement in evaluation and philanthropic initiatives.

  • Project Design & Implementation: Collaborate with project leads, supervisors, CORE, and WFF to devise feasible yet innovative scopes of work, project contracts, study designs, consultation strategies, and solutions to distinctive challenges. Additionally, fellows will actively engage in research and evaluation processes, including data collection, analysis, and interpretation and reporting, to ensure the successful implementation of projects. They will apply their skills to assess project effectiveness, identify areas for improvement, and contribute to evidence-based decision-making.

  • Professional Development: This includes monthly meetings with CORE supervisor, travel to WFF and meetings with WFF mentor, conference presentations and co-publishing in external venues, and one Capstone Project. This could also include miscellaneous meetings such as All-CORE meetings, WFF SLED meetings, etc. 

  • The Fellowship is oriented around key competencies.  Other duties assigned to Fellows will focus on development of key skills in: Social Science Research Fundamentals; Project Management; Evaluation Content and Trends; Philanthropy Content and Trends; Facilitation of Strategic Learning; Boundary Spanning Interpersonal & Communication




Education and Experience:

A Master's degree in Social Sciences or related field is required.

Two (2) years of work experience preferred, ideally in a nonprofit, philanthropic organization or K-12 and higher education setting. Candidates with knowledge of research methods and social science, as well as basic data analytics will be best suited for the role.  Given CORE and WFF's shared commitment to educational topics, candidates with experience in the field of education will be especially competitive for the Fellowship. 

Specific trainings, such as IRB CITI training will be required upon hiring.

Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

Fellows would be required to possess knowledge and skills related to social science research fundamentals. These include understanding the basics of formulating appropriate research questions, designing a study that seeks to answer those research questions, sampling, instrument development, reliability and validation, data collection, data organization, and data analysis.  

Candidate must demonstrate strong interpersonal and verbal communication skills, with the ability to communicate broadly across the University and develop and maintain effective relationships with a wide range of constituencies. Must also demonstrate strong written communication skills. Must also have strong organizational, planning and time management skills.  

Physical and Environmental Demands:

  • Sit for long periods of time
  • Carry/Lift up to 25lbs.

Deadline to Apply:

This position is open until filled.

Priority consideration will be given to candidates who apply by May 24, 2024.

EEO Statement:

SMU will not discriminate in any program or activity on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, genetic information, veteran status, sexual orientation, or gender identity and expression. The Executive Director for Access and Equity/Title IX Coordinator is designated to handle inquiries regarding nondiscrimination policies and may be reached at the Perkins Administration Building, Room 204, 6425 Boaz Lane, Dallas, TX 75205, 214-768-3601,


SMU offers staff a broad, competitive array of health and related benefits. In addition to traditional benefits such as health, dental, and vision plans, SMU offers a wide range of wellness programs to help attract, support, and retain our employees whose work continues to make SMU an outstanding education and research institution.

SMU is committed to providing an array of retirement programs that benefit and protect you and your family throughout your working years at SMU and, if you meet SMU's retirement eligibility criteria, during your retirement years after you leave SMU.

The value of learning at SMU isn't just about preparing our students for the future. Employees have access to a wide variety of professional and personal development opportunities, including tuition benefits.