Special Projects Manager: Free Library of Philadelphia

About Read by 4th:

Read by 4th is Philadelphia’s citywide early literacy movement, including an ever-growing coalition of families and their partners working to protect every child’s right to read. Campaign partners work to advance change by supporting families, literacy-rich communities, and systems that put children on the path to reading success.

The Read by 4th coalition is supported by a small backbone team based at the Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation. The role of backbone staff includes convening and aligning partners, gathering and sharing data to inform strategy and continuous learning, communications to share resources and to celebrate partners, and other efforts to build an impactful citywide movement.

Position Summary:

The Special Projects Manager will be responsible for a variety of initiatives that seek to engage communities and families around early literacy. Specifically, the Read by 4th campaign has developed a number of strategies – ranging from family workshops, community festivals and more – which serve to disseminate and promote Read by 4th resources, tools and messages.

The keystone initiative in this portfolio is Reading Promise Week. Held each October, this week-long festival is on a mission to celebrate reading in neighborhoods across Philly; address the early literacy crisis through community strengths and joy; and bring family literacy habits to life in ways that are fun, free, and easy to keep going at home.

In 2021, Reading Promise Week consisted of 45 unique events organized by partner organizations and volunteers. The Special Projects Manager will be responsible for managing the recruitment, engagement, and support of these event hosts as we seek to sustain and grow the festival. Core to these responsibilities is the need to manage complex logistics, maintain clear and consistent communications with partners, and juggle many competing timelines and needs.

In addition to Reading Promise Week, the Special Projects Manager will be the campaign’s point person for a number of ongoing family engagement initiatives. These include a series of parent trainings on the foundations of early literacy, a texting service that supports parents of young children with brain development tips, and making sure the many unique family resources developed by the campaign are accessible to and distributed to partners.

The successful candidate will be a mission-driven, solution-oriented go-getter who seeks to bring their talents to bear on establishing and sustaining new Philadelphia traditions.  The right fit person will be detail-oriented,  skilled at planning and managing complex events, able to engage and support  a diverse array of stakeholders, and a roll-up your sleeves team player.

There is a preference for a candidate who is bilingual, however this is not a requirement for application.  Read by 4th has a commitment to expand its outreach to and engagement with communities for whom English is not the primary language. To that end, the Special Projects Manager will be responsible for thinking through and establishing guidelines to ensure Read by 4th resources are accessible and appropriate for various languages and cultures in Philadelphia.  Our first priority is Spanish, however we are actively working to ensure our resources are translated and culturally relevant in a number of languages common in Philadelphia.

Specific Responsibilities:

  • Event Planning:
    • Manage Read by 4th’s annual celebration of early literacy, Reading Promise Week.
      • Work with a variety of external partners and Campaign staff to collaboratively design key aspects of Reading Promise Week.
      • Recruit, register and support partners as they plan their events
      • Oversee the procurement and distribution of family resources to event hosts
      • Facilitate regular planning meetings
      • Plan one major event that will either kick-off or closeout the week of festivities
    • Provide event design and management for other Read by 4th campaign events (as yet to be determined).
  • Project Management: The Special Projects Manager provides project management oversight on a number of efforts that relate to supporting families in developing home literacy habits. These include:
    • Manage the Ready4K initiative. Ready4K is a texting service that sends parenting tips related to early learning and brain development to thousands of Philadelphia families.
      • Work with partners to expand the enrollment in this service to more families each year
      • Manage the relationship with the vendor and ensure contract compliance
    • Manage the dissemination and implementation of the Family workshop on early literacy skills and parent workshop on active reading.
      • Coordinate logistics and the distribution of materials to partners to support our family workshops on early literacy and active reading
      • Establish a system for ensuring regular train the trainers sessions
      • Identify opportunities to continue to expand the use of both trainings
    • Handle logistics of special projects and pilot initiatives that arise over the course of the year (i.e. ordering and distributing books or printed materials, volunteer events)
  • Administrative Duties:
    • Create and manage a distribution system for the Campaign’s inventory of books and family materials
    • Create and implement process for receiving and fulfilling requests for materials from partner organizations
    • Establish a system for and oversee the distribution of family resources and children’s books to partners
    • Develop and maintain relationships with a cadre of vendors (printers, caterers, tent rentals, storage space, delivery services, etc…


  • Demonstrated experience in logistics and event planning
  • Track record of managing complex projects with multiple partners
  • Good grasp of managing a budget and tracking expenses
  • Excellent customer service skills and demonstrated ability to sustain and strengthen a variety of stakeholder relationships including funders, institutional partners, and community and grassroots volunteers
  • Demonstrated experience designing and implementing events with Philadelphia families
  • Excellent organizational skills with demonstrated attention to detail and timelines

Additional Desired Qualifications

  • Minimum 5-6 years relevant work experience
  • B.A. or B.S. preferred but not required
  • Familiar with Philadelphia neighborhoods, including neighborhoods for whom English is not the primary language
  • Ability to speak fluently in more than one language a plus
  • Familiarity with project management software
  • Familiar with Philadelphia education/nonprofit organizations, familiarity with the Read by 4th partner network a plus

Special Conditions:

  • This job requires occasional physical labor; applicants should be able to lift and carry boxes weighing up to 40 lbs.
  • Occasional travel within the Philadelphia area is required.
  • Occasional evening and weekend hours are required (especially in September and October).
  • The position is currently a remote position with occasional need to be onsite with colleagues. It is anticipated that the position will become a hybrid position in 2022 with two days a week in the office. It is possible that at some point in the future this position would become fully in-person, however, it is more likely to remain a hybrid position.

Application Process

To apply, please submit a cover letter and resume through the Special Projects Manager posting on Indeed.

The Free Library of Philadelphia Foundation is an Equal Employment Opportunity Employer. Minorities and LGBTQ individuals are encouraged to apply.