Social Solutions

Project Design Fellows for USAID (MECap)

5 months ago


Social Solutions International, Inc. (Social Solutions)* is accepting curricula vitae from mid- to senior-level project design specialists who are available and interested in a one- to two-year posting to contribute to the strengthening of project design, monitoring and evaluation (M&E), collaborating, learning and adapting (CLA) at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This opportunity coincides with Agency efforts to streamline strategic planning and project design processes. This is an exciting opportunity with a competitive package, to be directly involved in building the capacity of USAID to strengthen the discipline of development and improve development outcomes.


The Bureau for Policy, Planning and Learning (PPL) operates a Fellows program to build capacity across the USAID program cycle. The Fellows program is managed by the Expanding Monitoring and Evaluation Capacities (MECap) task order for which Social Solutions is the prime contractor.


Project Design (PD) Capacity Building Fellows, called PD fellows, will join a cohort of Fellows (M&E Fellows and Learning Fellows) and the technical assistance team that supports PPL under MECap. MECap bolsters capacity in USAID missions and operating units to plan for, undertake, and use rigorous analytical methods in strategic planning, design, monitoring, and evaluation to achieve better development outcomes. MECap collaborates closely with other PPL and Agency awards and utilizes a facilitating and mentoring approach in all of its work.


Placements for PD fellows will be based in an operating unit in USAID/Washington focused on a particular region or technical area, but will also entail direct support to field missions.  Fellows will spend their first 4 to 6 weeks being trained in the USAID Program Cycle and supporting business processes. The Fellows will be recruited and placed utilizing a cohort model.


Project Design Fellow Roles and Responsibilities


The PD Fellow will serve as an advisor for project design, with explicit attention to building capacity of USAID/Washington pillar and regional bureaus to effectively guide USAID missions in the project design process, incorporating promising practices in systems thinking, promoting local ownership, learning, and adaptive management.  In addition to building capacity of USAID staff through a learning-by-doing approach, the PD Fellow will also contribute to the identification, development, and “incubation” of promising practices in project and activity design, including closely related monitoring, evaluation, and learning approaches. In this role, s/he will actively participate in related USAID communities of practice, including but not limited to one led by PPL/SPP that enables all PD fellows to remain connected to PPL and to ensure consistent approaches to project design. The PD Fellow will work collaboratively with USAID teams to develop high quality products that will serve as solid examples for future staff, actively engaging key staff in the process to take leadership.  The PD Fellow will also help put in place management systems, structures, and coordination procedures designed to be self-sustaining after the completion of their assignment.


The specific tasks to be accomplished by the PD Fellow will be determined to some extent by the needs of a specific pillar or regional bureau, but will most likely include:


  • Build capacity of USAID staff and partners in project and activity design by providing expert advice and mentoring, with a focus on promoting the use of systems thinking, approaches that promote local ownership in order to increase sustainable outcomes, and evidence and analysis, to inform project design.
  • Advise on appropriate monitoring and evaluation frameworks to maximize learning and adapting in project and activity design.
  • Build capacity of USAID/Washington regional and technical bureaus in planning, designing, and/or implementing adaptive management approaches to be integrated throughout project design.
  • In collaboration with regional and pillar bureau staff, provide technical assistance to missions to facilitate the integration of systems thinking, local ownership and CLA approaches into the design, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and adaptation of mission programs, projects, and activities.
  • Design, facilitate, and/or contribute to trainings, workshops, facilitated learning conversations, mentoring approaches and other capacity building activities with USAID and partners to increase knowledge and usage of local systems analysis and approaches that promote local ownership and adaptive management in project and activity design, including its linkages with monitoring and evaluation.
  • Assist in developing, capturing, sharing and testing methods, models and tools to further use of local systems thinking, and approaches encouraging local ownership and adaptive management in project and activity design.
  • Convene and/or participate in a PD community of practice or working group and other communities of practice as appropriate to share lessons learned and encourage good practices.
  • Document learning and provide feedback back to PPL on the implementation and/or challenges of Program Cycle guidance, tools, methods, and approaches.


The PD Fellow will be a mid- or senior-level practitioner with the following qualifications:

  • Master’s degree or higher in international development, or related field, required.
  • At least five years of experience (mid-level) or 10 years (senior-level) experience designing, implementing and monitoring international development programs and projects required.
  • Strong background in training and experience in facilitation, capacity building and/or adult learning required.
  • Demonstrated experience with providing technical assistance, mentoring, and coaches to staff at all levels of an organization and from multiple technical disciplines on program learning, project design, adaptive management, monitoring, and evaluation at USAID and/or other foreign assistance agencies (including NGOs or international organizations).
  • Strong analytical skills, including but not limited to: demonstrated ability to identify and define appropriate analyses to inform project designs; demonstrated ability to synthesize multiple data sources and stakeholder viewpoints with the most recent development best practices; demonstrated understanding of project-level gender analysis.
  • Strong demonstrated understanding of recent good practice approaches to systems thinking in project design, monitoring, and evaluation, including approaches which promote and can effectively measure local ownership and sustainability.
  • Demonstrated understanding of results-oriented approaches for integrating CLA approaches into project designs a plus.
  • Demonstrated flexibility and capacity to adapt to and operate in environments of uncertainty.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills; Fluent English required.
  • Eligibility to obtain a USG security clearance required.


Social Solutions International, Inc. (Social Solutions) is a research and evaluation consulting firm dedicated to improving the welfare of underserved populations worldwide. As the prime contractor for MECAP, Social Solutions manages a team of core staff and subcontractors, including CAMRIS International, IMPAQ International, and Iris Group, Inc. It also has partnerships with the Payson Center for International Development at Tulane University and the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health at Vanderbilt University.



Social Solutions is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employers. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, protected veteran status, disability status, or any other characteristic protected by law.


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