Trellis Foundation believes every student deserves an equal opportunity to earn a credential or degree beyond high school. We work to ensure support and resources for success are accessible. We accomplish this by supporting the innovation and growth of ideas and strategies that increase the ability for low- and moderate-income students to attain, afford, and complete postsecondary education.

Higher Education is the Key

The vitality and health of our nation’s economy, security, and quality of life are linked to higher education opportunities. According to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, 65% percent of U.S. jobs will require some form of postsecondary education by 2020. However, only 38 percent of Americans aged 25-64 years currently hold a two or four-year degree. And most alarmingly, low- to moderate-income students, marginalized populations, and those who are first-generation college students are disproportionately represented in the numbers of Americans without a postsecondary degree or credential.

Since these populations represent a significant number of our nation’s students and families, the potential to expand opportunities for postsecondary completion is considerable. Today’s students are quite literally our future, and at Trellis Foundation, our focus is to make college completion attainable for everyone.

We are also interested in helping students overcome the barriers caused by increasing costs and concerns about burdensome debt. Trellis Foundation supports programs and policies that ensure students have the information and resources they need to make prudent decisions. This interest is inherently rooted in Trellis Foundation’s relationship with Trellis Company (formerly TG), which understands that the relationship between debt and degrees can affect the life choices of students well beyond their college experience.

An Outcomes Investing Structure

Trellis Foundation is invested in definable outcomes. In our grantmaking, we consider the value of the proposed work and related activities by working with grantees to identify measurable deliverables. Often this process begins internally with Trellis Foundation board and staff discussions and reflections of current and prior work. Trellis Foundation uses an iterative process with three phases — all of which inform funding priorities and decisions.

Each phase in the process includes the following elements:

Concept Development
  • Understand Trends
  • Collaborate
  • Analyze, Ideate
  • Identify Partners
  • Develop Concept
Investment Development
  • Design Proposal
  • Determine Funding
  • Develop Agreement
  • Assign Award
Management and Close
  • Manage Investment
  • Measure Progress
  • Apply Knowledge
  • Close Out

In refining its grantmaking philosophy and process, Trellis Foundation has been informed by the outcomes investing process as articulated by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. With permission from the Gates Foundation, Trellis Foundation has modeled its approach in a similar way, aiming to strengthen partnerships, set clear expectations, reduce opportunity costs, and focus on outcomes.