Foundation Overview

The Lemelson Foundation uses the power of invention to improve lives.

Established by prolific US inventor Jerome Lemelson and his wife Dorothy in the early 1990 and guided today by the Lemelson family, we believe invention can solve many of the biggest economic and social challenges of our time. That’s why we work to strengthen the ecosystems where inventions can take shape, grow, and flourish. For more than two decades we have inspired young people from diverse backgrounds to tackle the world’s most daunting problems, advanced the field of invention education with a goal of reaching all children, and equipped entrepreneurs with the skills they need to start successful invention-based businesses. A private philanthropy, The Lemelson Foundation has investment assets of around $370 million and an annual budget of approximately $18 million. All told, we have provided over $200 million in grants and other investments to hundreds of organizations around the world.

We aspire to strengthen the invention ecosystem and empower inventors to solve the biggest global challenges and opportunities of our time, whether it’s ensuring equal access to a healthy life, providing clean water and sanitation, developing clean energy alternatives, rethinking how the world grows, shares and consumes its food, or building a strong and stable economy. We approach our work using a three-part framework we call impact inventing: 

  • Inventions should have positive social impact;
  • Inventions should be environmentally responsible—from the materials and processes used through final products that go to market; and
  • Business models should become financially self-sustaining.

The Lemelson Foundation has created a culture of collaboration, continuous learning, and innovation. An entrepreneurial environment with huge flexibility and opportunities for impact has allowed the small team of 10 staff to create a large footprint and outsized presence for the Foundation. Commitment to diversity is one of The Lemelson Foundation’s core values as we work to foster an inclusive work environment. We cannot do our work without collaboration among people with diverse skill sets and backgrounds.

Key Grants Management Responsibilities

The Finance and Grants Accountant performs essential grants management functions focused on maximizing the impact and effectiveness of grant making at the Foundation. The Grants Management team works across every program and on every grant and serves as a critical partner to program officers in the management and implementation of strategy. Key grants management duties include: 

  • Process grant payment requests and communicate with grantees regarding payment status
  • Maintain schedule of outstanding grants payable and grant payments
  • Work with program officers to ensure pipeline items are entered in grants management system and communicate with CFAO to verify grant payout and projections
  • Review and analyze grantee financial reports
  • Track expenditure responsibility grants and enter data in grants management system
  • Prepare expenditure responsibility report for 990PF
  • Provide customer service to grant applicants and current grantees, guiding them on how to use the grantee portal for submitting applications and/or grantee reports
  • Administer the unsolicited process, including screening letters of inquiry, managing the inquiries in the grants management system, and explaining process and proposal guidelines to cold callers
  • Conduct basic due diligence for new grant applications and prepare the electronic file for the Grants, Contracts and IT Manager’s review
  • Help maintain grants management system, generate reports for Grants, Contracts and IT Manager, and CFAO, provide assistance with training staff on systems, and assure integrity of data system
  • Work with Grants, Contracts and IT Manager to refine grants management processes
  • Participate in strategic annual planning process
  • Become familiar with all grants management responsibilities and take on additional assignments as needed

Qualifications

The Finance and Grants Accountant will be enthusiastic and passionate about The Lemelson Foundation’s mission and motivated by the opportunity to play a leading role supporting the next generation of impact inventors. Every Foundation employee should feel a deep personal connection to our work and embrace our commitment to positive social change and environmental responsibility. The ideal employee has the motivation to be a key contributor and leader within the organization, regardless of role, bringing a positive influence to our culture of collaboration, creativity, and continuous improvement. 

Ongoing Learning Opportunities

In the spirit of collaboration and continuous learning, all Foundation staff have the opportunity to periodically accompany program officers on site visits and engage directly with grantees and partners for ongoing exposure to the work of the Foundation and its grantees.