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Program Manager Impact

Program Manager Educate

Join us on our mission to clean rivers!


Every year 11 million kg of plastic flow into our oceans globally, primarily via rivers. If we don't act now, the volume of plastics entering the oceans yearly will triple to almost 29 billion kg by 2040. In this scenario, the problem and consequences for people, animals and the environment become unmanageable. Change is needed today.


Our vision: plastic-free rivers, globally! As our future Program Manager for the Assessment, Planning and Impact Program, you play a crucial role in developing, testing and validating tools and methods for the assessment and planning component of the Clean River Model (our Theory of Change) as well as how we validate the Clean River Model as a whole.



River Cleanup started in 2017 with a 10-minute cleanup and was founded in Antwerp in 2019 as a Belgian non-profit organization. To date, we have prevented/removed over 3,4 million kg of waste from the environment, including 2,4 million. kg of plastics. We also mobilized 238.000 people in almost 5000 events along 161 rivers in 97 countries. 


We started with cleanup events but have since expanded. We are now on a journey to become an internationally respected operational network and recognized as a go-to global solutions provider for plastic-free rivers. 


Our values: 1. Professional | 2. Inclusive  | 3. Positive | 4. Ethical | 5. Impact-driven.



Using the experience from our first million kg of plastic and the latest science-based insights, we have developed an open-source Theory of Change called the Clean River Model. The Clean River Model is a scalable end-to-end solution to prevent new plastic pollution and clean up legacy plastic pollution on land and in rivers. 


The Clean River Model consists of strategic interventions throughout the plastic-life cycle that allow us to turn off the tap on plastic pollution instead of just cleaning up. Substituting and reducing plastic results in less plastic waste. Better collection of post-consumer plastic waste prevents environmental leakage of plastics. Cleanup operations focus on legacy plastic pollution on land and in rivers. Once collected and sorted, these plastics return to closed-loop circular economy solutions. By the end of 2025, we aspire to have our Clean River Model tested, validated and ready for scaling to 100 rivers by 2030.


You can find more information about the Clean River Model (new name for Ripple Model) via the link below under downloads.



Our organizational growth strategy matches the Clean River Model. The future organization we are evolving towards consists of five programs:  (1) Awareness, (2) Assessment, planning and impact, (3) Clean, (4) Educate and (5) Transform. We develop and innovate tools and methods to make rivers plastic-free in the programs. We field-test all tools and processes in our core countries (Belgium, Albania, Indonesia and Cameroon). Finally, procedures, results and best practices are shared via our River Hub (to be developed). 


The role of the Assessment, Planning and Impact Program is multiple-fold:


1. Develop the tools and methods for assessment and planning
Each intervention in a river is ideally based on an integrated assessment of a river section, including basic river parameters, socio-economic drivers behind plastic pollution, pollution sources and types of plastic pollution, what has been done already, who are relevant stakeholders etc. The assessment is the baseline for post-intervention results measurement and the basis for a solid action plan to make a section of the river plastic-free in the most effective and efficient way. We have a draft proposal ready for the Plastic Free River Assessment tool and are now working on securing partners and funding. In addition, a citizen science project using drones to measure plastic pollution is ongoing (Waste Watchers). 


2. Guard our impact and Clean River Model validation
We have defined the desired KPIs for each component of the Clean River Model at output, outcome and impact levels. Identifying tools and methods to measure these desired outputs, outcomes, and impact KPIs is an essential part of this program. This is also crucial for validating the Clean River Model as a whole. We have EU-funding for a project to validate the Clean River Model from May 2023 – 2025 in Belgium.



We are looking for a dedicated Program Manager to own this program, as well as the projects within the program, and drive the development of the program within the Clean River Model and strategic framework. Your tasks include:

  • Leading program and project development;
  • Identifying and developing tools, methods and partners for assessments, planning and impact measurement;
  • Identifying (partners with) the most effective and efficient techniques to measure micro/macro plastic pollution levels on land and in rivers and working with (academic) partners to integrate this into our approaches;
  • Active project management, implementation and reporting for the (ongoing) projects;
  • Contributing to proposal development for new projects; 
  • Optimizing the impact KPI reporting processes and safeguarding the timely delivery of impact reports from the core countries, in close collaboration with our COO; 
  • Being the internal and external focal point within River Cleanup for questions on assessments, planning and impact measurement;
  • Coaching and guidance of one junior project officer working on the existing projects

You directly report to Thomas de Groote, founder/CEO, and are part of a growing team.



  • 5+ years' experience in program design and implementation with a nonprofit or grant maker (desired)
  • Experience with measuring plastic pollution levels (desired) 
  • EU project management and reporting experience (desired)
  • Experience with Theories of Change & Logic Models (desired)
  • The ability to combine strategic thinking with a hands-on mentality and attention to detail (required)
  • Excellent people skills and the demonstrated ability to be a team player (required)
  • Impeccable written and spoken English, other languages are an asset (required) 
  • Self-starter and the ability to work independently (required)
  • Demonstrated problem-solving skills (required)
  • A high degree of flexibility and the ability to work in a fast-paced environment (required)

This position is not open to consultants or external project managers.




  • A full-time contract
  • A 39-hour working week in a flexible time system
  • 26 days of vacation in addition to the public holidays
  • Holiday pay
  • End-of-year allowance
  • Meal vouchers (9 EUR/day)
  • Possibility to work from home or in the office
  • Good remuneration (PC.329.01)
  • Being part of a growing organisation
  • Being part of a dynamic team




We kindly ask you to send a brief motivation letter and your CV/resume to Joris Fierens (HR) latest by the 29th of November, 2023. You can also contact Joris if there are questions.


Please read “River Cleanup 2.0 summary” and “Theory of Change” before applying. You can find these documents below under download.


Together for clean rivers!