Joining Trellis Foundation: A New Chapter in My Commitment to Education and Equity

I am excited to share that I am joining Trellis Foundation as a Program Officer. This new role is a significant milestone in my career, and I am eager to bring my passion for post-secondary education and equity to an organization whose mission aligns so closely with my own values and experiences.

A Lifelong Commitment to Education and Equity

My educational journey has been driven by a deep commitment to empowering underserved communities. My academic path began with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Texas State University, a Master of Liberal Arts and Humanities from St. Edward’s University, and a Doctorate of Educational Leadership from Grand Canyon University.

Education has always been at the core of my efforts to empower underserved communities because I firmly believe in its transformative power. I was raised primarily by my grandmother, who lived in an era where education beyond primary school was considered a “luxury” and not a necessity. She shared with me her desire to further her education as a young adult but due to the limited access available for people of color and women prior to the Civil Rights Movement, she was relegated to making a life for herself and her family void of postsecondary education. With that context, she ensured that I would be exposed to educational opportunities and resources that would afford me an opportunity to attend college and have the support needed to be successful.

Professionally, I have had the privilege of serving as a professor of humanities, student development, and psychology at several institutions of higher education. I have worked closely with students in those roles, helping them navigate their educational journeys and achieve their goals. Additionally, as the Founder and CEO of J-4 Education Consulting, I have collaborated with educational institutions, nonprofits, and foundations to enhance their impact and support their missions.

Leading Change with My Brother’s Keeper Scholars

One of the most rewarding experiences of my career was leading The Greater-Austin Area My Brother’s Keeper Scholars initiative from 2018 to 2022. This program, inspired by former President Barack Obama, aimed to increase post-secondary enrollment rates among young, disenfranchised men of color. Through our efforts, we secured more than $3 million in funding and supported over 1,200 young men in their transitions to college and career opportunities.

This initiative taught me the power of community collaboration and the importance of targeted support for marginalized groups. It reinforced my belief that systemic change is possible when we invest in our youth and provide them with the resources they need to succeed.

Embracing a Collaborative Approach at Trellis Foundation

Trellis Foundation’s mission to improve postsecondary attainment for low-income students and students of color in Texas resonates deeply with me. The Foundation’s approach, which emphasizes catalytic investments and collaborative efforts to change policy, practice, and systems, aligns perfectly with my vision for educational equity. I am proud to join and build upon this legacy of support and innovation.

My work has always been guided by the principle that real change begins at the community level. Whether serving on boards such as LatinX Leaders Austin, The Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex Community Work Group, and Mainspring Schools, or volunteering with organizations like the Central Texas Food Bank and Coats 4 Kids, I have seen firsthand the impact of community-driven initiatives. I am eager to leverage these experiences at Trellis Foundation to further our shared goals.

In my new role as Program Officer, I am particularly excited about the potential to drive policy changes and practice innovations that can have a lasting impact. My previous work with the My Brother’s Keeper Scholars initiative has given me valuable insights into the barriers that students of color and low-income students face, as well as effective strategies to help them overcome these challenges. I plan to bring these insights to my work at Trellis Foundation, ensuring that our investments are both strategic and impactful.

A Vision for the Future

As I embark on this new chapter with Trellis Foundation, I am filled with optimism and determination. I believe that by working together, we can create a more equitable and inclusive education system that provides all students with the opportunity to pursue their dreams. My commitment to community service and mentorship will continue to guide my efforts, and I am excited to collaborate with the talented team at Trellis Foundation to make a meaningful difference.

Thank you for joining me on this journey. Together, we can transform lives through education and create a brighter future for all students in Texas.

About the Author

Dr. Jay L. McCullar is a community leader, equity advocate, and educational consultant. He holds degrees from Texas State University, St. Edward’s University, and Grand Canyon University. Dr. Jay  has held teaching positions at several higher education institutions as a professor of Humanities, Student Development and Psychology. As an education consultant he has supported several initiatives focused on early childhood education, out-of-school time, and post-secondary education.

In 2017, he co-created The Greater-Austin Area My Brother’s Keeper Scholars initiative, where he acted as director and lead fundraiser, securing over $3 million to support young men of color. He serves on several boards, including LatinX Leaders Austin and Mainspring Schools, and has been recognized in Austin’s Forty Under Forty Community Awards. He is a Fellow in the African American Leadership Institute, Class of 2024.

Dr. Jay is also a devoted family man who loves to spend quality time with those closest to him. In his free time, he volunteers with various community organizations and emphasizes mentorship and service.