Climate Breakthrough Project

Job Type: Full Time
Location: ,

The Climate Breakthrough Project seeks to launch breakthrough climate mitigation efforts by identifying, supporting, and unleashing innovative leaders with transformative strategies. We pursue this mission by selecting up to four awardees per year, each of whom receives $2 million (USD) over three years to develop and pursue the boldest strategy they can conceive to mitigate climate change. Our awardees’ innovative work focuses on high-risk, high-reward efforts in social, behavior, economic, and policy change. At the time of selection, some awardees have a clear idea of the strategy they will pursue, while others take time to explore and select among several ideas. Climate Breakthrough cares most about the potential scale of the idea and the pace at which it might achieve mitigation. The strategies our awardees pursue will, if successful, lead to tangible changes that reduce (or capture) global annual greenhouse gas emissions by hundreds of megatons of CO2e within ten years. For most awardees, this means pursuing strategies that affect entire industries or countries and materially change the lives of millions of people. Climate Breakthrough is a global initiative: candidates for the award may be based anywhere in the world and they need not speak English.

Our awardees as individuals are the core of our program. Beyond funding, throughout their tenures, award recipients receive tailored resources and assistance to bolster the creation, launch, and scaling of their strategies. We believe that many of the most capable leaders have not yet been given sufficient time, space, support, and funding to develop the kind of climate strategies our world desperately needs; our program is designed to give these brilliant strategists exactly that opportunity. Modeling our own practices on those of real-world institutions that have successfully driven innovation, we have three core steps in our funding practice: (1) identify world-class talent, (2) support leaders throughout their strategic development and implementation process, and (3) unleash successful projects by helping them get on a path to rapid scaling.

Climate Breakthrough is funded by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation in partnership with the Oak, IKEA, Good Energies, JPB, and Erol foundations. Launched in 2016, Climate Breakthrough has issued nine awards to date. Descriptions of the awardees and their strategies can be found at https://www.climatebreakthroughproject.org/awardees/

Portfolio Manager – Americas

The Portfolio Manager – Americas (Portfolio Manager) will serve as the primary point of contact for up to six Climate Breakthrough Awardees. Most of those awardees will be based in the Americas, but the Portfolio Manager may also be the point of contact for awardees based elsewhere depending on the current mix of active award recipients. In this role, the Portfolio Manager will provide awardees with support tailored to drive their strategies forward as effectively and efficiently as possible, and bolster their chances of success during, and after, their tenures with Climate Breakthrough. The Portfolio Manager’s role is that of thought-partner, coach, and advocate for the awardee and their strategy—asking awardees every step of the way, “How can we help you succeed?” The Portfolio Manager will determine how best to provide that service whether directly or by identifying and engaging help from either internal or external resources. The Portfolio Manager will also contribute strategically to the awardee’s communications and fundraising efforts.

The Portfolio Manager will be a key contributor to the entire Climate Breakthrough program, serving as a scout for the program by working to source potential awardees, participating in the evaluation and due diligence process for awardee selection, and supporting program communications and fundraising efforts. Finally, the Portfolio Manager will work closely with the Climate Breakthrough Project Director and the rest of the small, tight-knit team to evaluate, strengthen, grow, and evolve the Climate Breakthrough initiative. Our ideal candidate is passionate about addressing climate change, understands how civil society efforts work to effect change, and above all else, excels at helping others do their best work.

Primary Duties and Responsibilities

  • Serve as primary point of contact for up to six Climate Breakthrough Awardees:
    • Serve as a thought-partner, coach, and advocate for the awardees in your portfolio, with the aim of supporting them in thinking big, learning quickly, and keeping their energy focused on their breakthrough strategies.
    • Conduct regular needs assessments with each awardee to help inform the provision of a suite of support services with a keen focus on advancing awardees’ strategies effectively and efficiently. Most often support comes in the form of strategy coaching and training, assistance with relationship and network building, and capacity building, either for the awardee or their team. Support may also include help with recruitment, meeting facilitation, theory of change and/or strategy development, organizational development support, providing access to valuable contacts, or fundraising assistance.
    • Coordinate with Climate Breakthrough Director to determine which support services will be provided by the Climate Breakthrough team and which by external vendors.
  • Coordinate with awardees on administrative and programmatic matters, including the following:
    • Development and submission of strategy documents, budgets, and reports
    • Administrative requests or needs from Climate Breakthrough
    • Determination of awardee home institution setup for their time with the program
    • Working with the Climate Breakthrough team and awardees to establish monitoring and evaluation processes to assess impact and progress
  • Support the Director in stewardship of institutional funder relationships by drafting regular communications updates and reporting on awardees’ work.
  • Work with awardees and the team to develop materials such as strategy and progress summaries, presentations, and case studies as needed to support funder cultivation on behalf of awardees and Climate Breakthrough itself.
  • Serve as a scout for the program, searching for and nominating potential candidates.
  • Participate in the candidate evaluation and due diligence process.
  • Serve as a thought partner to the Climate Breakthrough Director and to fellow portfolio managers to strengthen the program as well as support individual awardees.
  • Participate in regular calls with the San Francisco-based team.
  • Provide support for the planning and implementation of future Climate Breakthrough events, such as retreats, new awardee kick-off events, or annual planning meetings.
  • Help the team prepare for board meetings; help prepare funder reports and funder proposals.
  • Help to build the network and funder pipeline of Climate Breakthrough.
  • Participate in periodic efforts to evaluate and refine Climate Breakthrough’s strategy and theory of change.


Successful applicants will have most of the following qualifications:

  • 10+ years of relevant work experience in a related field (e.g., philanthropy, climate NGO, campaigning, movement building, grassroots advocacy, strategy consulting, organizational development)
  • Strong project management skills and experience
  • Comfort working internationally and cross-culturally
  • Experience with organizational development, team development, and/or management coaching
  • A keen strategic mind and fluency in theory of change development, strategy development, and/or systems thinking
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Comfort in a startup environment where ideas, systems, and structures are iterated, and trial and error are expected
  • Strong, international network in the climate field
  • Fundraising experience
  • Fluency in English required, fluency in a foreign language desirable (e.g., Spanish, Portuguese)
  • A deep commitment to finding solutions to the climate crisis
  • Ability to travel internationally 2-4 times a year

Compensation and Benefits

Climate Breakthrough is open to Portfolio Manager candidates based anywhere in the Americas. Employment terms will, however, depend on the location and whether the candidate works 80-percent time or full time. Climate Breakthrough is able to hire a full-time candidate with benefits only in the United States cities of San Francisco, CA; New York, NY; or Washington, DC. A candidate based elsewhere will be hired as an independent consultant at 80-percent time. Climate Breakthrough offers competitive compensation commensurate with experience.

To Apply

The expected start date for this position is summer 2020. CEA Recruiting is assisting Climate Breakthrough in their recruitment efforts. To be considered for this position, interested candidates must click "Apply for this Job" to submit a cover letter, resume, and salary requirements through CEA’s job portal. Please direct all applications and inquiries to CEA Recruiting. This position will remain open until filled.

The Climate Breakthrough Project is an equal opportunity employer. Qualified applicants are considered for employment without regard to age, race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or veteran status.

CEA Recruiting works with leading environmental nonprofits, foundations, and businesses to recruit top talent and design effective organizational staffing strategies. For more information, visit www.cearecruiting.com.

Sign In

Not a member? Register

Related job openings

Program Manager, Indonesia

CLASP’s mission is to improve the environmental and energy performance of the appliances and related systems we use every day, lessening their ... see more

Program Officer, Environment

The Environment Program at the Hewlett Foundation (foundation) develops and implements grantmaking strategies that engage multiple sectors, ... see more

Chief Operating Officer

Global Fishing Watch (GFW) is an international, non-profit organization committed to advancing ocean governance through increased transparency. ... see more