Grant Information

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Request for Proposals – Deadline extended to Monday, March 1, at noon CST

Regional ecosystem innovation for reskilling and upskilling

We are pleased to announce Trellis Foundation’s first Request For Proposals (RFP) in 2021. The focus of this RFP is to encourage, expand, and learn about regional collaborative efforts in Texas that lead to greater opportunities and outcomes for reskilling and upskilling dislocated workers and students through postsecondary credentials/degrees with labor market value.

Trellis Foundation intends to award funding through this RFP that will focus on both short- and long-term efforts to align regional workforce and education systems. These efforts should be specific to employers and working learners looking to upskill or reskill due to COVID-19 and/or in view of potential improvement in long-term economic vitality.

Please reference the RFP guidelines for details, including the online application link. The application must be accessed through the link in the guidelines.

For additional information and answers to questions, view the webinar below.

Download the slide deck here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Please note: the FAQs may be updated after release of the RFP, in response to questions we receive throughout the response period. Please check back regularly for updates.

Once you have already set up your grant portal access and started an application, you will use this link. If you have not started an application yet, the initial application link to set up your portal in the GivingData system was included in the RFP guidelines.
Applicants may self-define their region or sub-region. You may use an official regional designation, such as the Workforce Board region for your location. You may also self-define it based on city boundaries, county boundaries, partner college service districts, etc. The key is that the RFP should include the details of the definition you have determined.
While this is not expressly prohibited, we anticipate that a region with a single collaboration incorporating all relevant partners will likely provide a stronger application than multiple applications with a few partners. The exception to this would be if the region has intentionally approached the work through a number of sub-regions.

In addition, we will be seeking geographic diversity within our final cohort. Therefore, it is unlikely that multiple grants will be awarded to the same region.

We encourage regions to consider what organization would have the capacity and mission alignment to serve as the lead or “backbone” organization for this work long-term, as well as during the grant period. For many regions, an existing or emerging P16 or P20+ council will be the best fit. For others, the best fit may be a chamber of commerce, workforce board, or even educational entity.

We view the lead organization as more than the grants administrator. If you need to name a specific organization as the grants administration lead, with another organization as the lead on programmatic work, please contact us to discuss the details.

We have not designated a specific percent threshold. Each application will be evaluated on the specific need, articulated plan, and potential for impact in the applicant’s region.
If your region identifies nondegree credentials with labor-market value, these may be included. Applications will be considered stronger if they detail a plan (or will use the grant term to devise a plan) to further integrate any nondegree credentials with degree options—either by converting them to credit-bearing options or by detailing a clear incorporation of the nondegree credential into a degreed option.
If your region identifies industry-based certifications with labor-market value, these may be included. Applications will be considered stronger if they detail a plan (or will use the grant term to devise a plan) to further integrate any certifications with degree pathways. Applications should include a clear rationale for the inclusion.
Since regional plans should be appropriate for each region’s needs, any relevant option may be included; however, a regional plan consisting primarily of for-profit providers will not score as highly as an application including nonprofit and public training and academic options. Given concerns around cost and loan default rates, applications including for-profit providers should provide data assuaging these concerns.
  • No more than 10% may be dedicated to indirect funding
  • Trellis Foundation funds cannot be used for
    • Annual fundraising events
    • Performances or competitions
    • Building infrastructure, physical plant, construction
    • Motor vehicles
    • Endowments or debt retirements
    • Lobbying efforts to influence specific legislation
Yes. The matching funds can be contributed by another organization, business or funder, or they may be reflected through in-kind support.
Yes, these costs may be included. Since the focus of the RFP is on strengthening a collective approach for both short-term and long-term goals, we anticipate a significant portion of the budget will focus on costs related to this collective work (backbone staffing, data infrastructure, coordination of partners and staff relief time as needed, etc.); however, direct student costs may be included as a line item. In addition, if you will be seeking feedback from directly impacted community members/workers (as steering committee members or through focus groups or interviews), we recommend including a stipend to compensate them for their time and expertise.
Yes, however, if the applications are from the same region, we would encourage you to collaborate to create a single proposal for the region.
The focus of your proposal should be on reskilling and upskilling for adults. We acknowledge that there may be aspects of the proposed work that also relate or apply to career and technology programs in the K-12 system; however, the primary focus of the work should reflect impact and outcomes for adult learners.
We anticipate that the long-term goals of the work will complement existing regional plans or missions to the extent that a commitment to this population can be continued after the grant. We anticipate some collaborations will implement policy changes or pathways alignment that continue to serve students without additional costs incurred. We welcome pilot initiatives that use this grant as a proof of concept to secure funding from institutional or governmental partners. This approach might be documented in the budget by incorporating step-down funding, with the percent funded by grant dollars decreasing in years two and three.
An emerging collaborative may have formed in the past couple of years and may be still establishing some infrastructure points, such as finalized collective metrics. An established collaborative likely has accomplished several years’ worth of collective work and has a solid infrastructure for decision-making, data analysis, and communication. We anticipate some applicants may have established workforce collaboratives or postsecondary education collaboratives but may be in the emerging phase of integrating the work of higher education and workforce training.

While we do not require a minimum number of partners, we would anticipate that the strongest applications would include a higher education institution, the workforce board, and an industry partner (single employer, industry association, etc.). Other key partners may include workforce training organizations, college retention or other direct service nonprofits, chambers of commerce, P-16 councils and additional higher ed institutions in the region.

An established MOU would provide the strongest documentation of the partnership but is not required. We recommend including a letter or email from the CEO and relevant program leads for all partner organizations, to demonstrate their knowledge of the proposal and commitment to their role in the work.

If your organization is not familiar with the existing education and/or workforce training initiatives in your region, we would strongly recommend you collaborate with a regional organization that is. Your region’s workforce board and/or P-16 council would be a great place to start. We are happy to share your interest with other organizations in your region, as possible, but we would encourage you to actively reach out to relevant partners on your own.