Trellis Foundation Summit

Grantee Posters – The Regional Ecosystem Innovation for Reskilling and Upskilling Cohort

Formed in 2021, the upskilling and reskilling cohort is comprised of nine regional partners across Texas (see graphic below). The focus of this cohort is to encourage, expand, and learn about regional collaborative efforts that lead to greater opportunities and outcomes for displaced workers and students in Texas. Click on the corresponding links below to view more information:

One aspect of Amarillo College’s Strategic plan is to transform our local economy by building a sustainable pipeline of graduates that meet the demand of local and regional business and industry partners. We are achieving this goal by revising our employer engagement strategies and focusing on infusing work-based learning into all our programs for students to have meaningful career exposure, work experience, and hands-on training opportunities. Through the Trellis Foundation we have received support to put this into action for selected CTE programs. This initiative has enabled the college to foster discussions around the role work-based learning can play in addressing the skills gap and in developing a more diverse talent pipeline. Through the foundation that this grant has established, we will be able to build an infrastructure that will enhance our business partnerships and maximize student success in the workforce. – Barbara Joelle Wahi, Senior Director Work-based and Experiential Learning at Amarillo College

  • Purpose: Project WIN aims to transform the Amarillo economy through a scaled work-based learning program that allows students to learn while they earn a paycheck in their field of study. Project Win focuses on four career paths: machining, industrial, maintenance, automotive and construction.
  • Constituencies Served: Adult learners, first-generation students, rural communities
  • Services Provided: Workforce development training and related supportive services, tuition/fees and state support and appropriate safety equipment and personal protective equipment
  • Partners
    • Amarillo College CEO Council (50 local industry leaders)
      • Ex: Jorge Ramirez, Architect/Firm Principal, Höhe Design Group, currently employing an AC apprentice
    • Panhandle Workforce Development Board
    • Panhandle Regional Planning Commission
  • Website: Earn and Learn Webpage:
  • Contact: Barbara Wahi, Senior Director of Work-based and Experiential Learning, at

The UpSkill Coastal Bend Partnership is a collaborative effort of workforce development, education and economic development experts working together to drive long-term system change and improve equitable access to career opportunities for residents in the rural areas of the region. Our end goal is to ultimately align partner strategies and programming around workforce centers in each of the counties that we are serving, for the purpose of stimulating regional economic growth in the Coastal Bend. – Jeff West, Executive Director of Education to Employment Partners

  • Purpose: The UpSkill Coastal Bend Partnership aims to align regional efforts and improve the Coastal Bend region’s economic vitality by increasing the educational and job attainment of rural adults to address workforce needs. The project aims to re-engage adults in career pathways related to healthcare and professional services.
  • Constituencies Served: Rural adults, especially those who are Hispanic and have low-income backgrounds
  • Grant Activities: Engage in crosswalk mapping to identify the overlaps and gaps between the skills, competencies, and credentials associated with industries in decline and those required for success in areas with strong employment growth; analyze data collected and create an awareness of the programs, services and opportunities, for both residents and employers; develop education/career pathways posters to high demand regional jobs through partnerships
  • Website: UpSkill Coastal Bend
  • Partners:
    • Aransas County Workforce Training Center (ACWTC)
    • Better Business Bureau (BBB)
    • Coastal Bend Council of Governments (CBCOG)
    • Coastal Bend College (CBC)
    • Coastal Compass Education and Career Resource Center
    • Corpus Christi Regional Economic Development Corporation (CCREDC)
    • Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL)
    • Craft Training Center of the Coastal Bend (CTCCB)
    • Del Mar College (DMC)
    • Education Service Center Region 2 (ESC2)
    • Nueces County Inclusive Development Network (NCIDN)
    • Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (TAMUCC)
    • Texas A&M University-Kingsville (TAMUK)
    • Workforce Solutions of the Coastal Bend (WFSCB)
  • Contact: Jeffrey West, Executive Director, at
Upskill Coastal Bend
Education to Employment Partners

During the pandemic, Foundation Communities supported many individuals and families with accessing rental assistance, as well as, several other vital financial services (housing, tax preparation, financial coaching, signing up for health coverage). We are able to leverage these existing client relationships to share information about reskiilling and upskilling opportunities newly available in the greater Austin area. In January 2022, we launched our sign-up form, a five-minute survey designed to learn more information about each client to better share curated information. Grassroots marketing has yielded 160+ individuals to sign up for the CAREER Project in the first six weeks since the launch. As we begin the next segment of the CAREER Project, we look forward to supporting these individuals through exploratory conversations about pathways available to them, ongoing marketing and information sharing through our text message platform and self-paced Red Kite database, and support with enrollment in partner programs like PelotonU, Austin Community College’s Career Scholars earn and learn program, and Workforce Solutions. – Gabriela A. Caballero, CAREER Project Manager and Succeed Coach

  • Purpose: The CAREER Project aims to create a network of postsecondary and employment support for individuals in Central Texas impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic by building out widescale infrastructure.
  • Constituencies Served: Unemployed, underemployed and displaced adults, specifically women of color within the Central Texas region looking to leverage this moment to reskill or upskill
  • Services provided: Ease of access to opportunities, pathways counseling, financial support, and access to resources like affordable and reliable childcare, transportation, and technology
  • Resources:
    • Foundation Communities launched a free, new initiative called THE CAREER Project. Their goal is to connect individuals with job training and college programs that can boost their skills and are designed for people supporting families or navigating busy scheduled. If you or someone you know may be interested in this opportunity, check out their interest form to get started:
    • Learn more about THE CAREER Project here:
  • Website: Foundation Communities: and more specifically
  • Partners:
    • Austin Community College (ACC)
    • Austin Chamber of Commerce
    • College Hub
    • E3 Alliance (Education Equals Economics)
    • PelotonU
    • United Way for Greater Austin
    • Workforce Solutions Capitol Area
  • Contact: Gabriela Caballero, CAREER Project Manager, at
Foundation Communities, College Hub

My work with Houston Back on Track began with the idea that collaborating with like-minded organizations would allow us to make a significant impact in a short time. After just a few months of working closely with our partners, this idea has become a reality. I have seen the delight in the faces of people we are empowering with greater access to good jobs, heard the gratitude in their voices. We are making a difference and the Trellis Foundation provides important resources that make it possible for us to be of service to others. – Carl Salazar, Director, Regional Workforce Recovery Greater Houston Partnership

  • Purpose: The Back on Track initiative supports an inclusive economic recovery by mobilizing partners in the Houston region to create an employer-driven, jobs-first effort to equitably and rapidly train, support and guide displaced workers into sustainable occupations. Houston Back on Track’s initiative focuses on four career paths: medical, transportation, customer service and energy transition.
  • Constituencies Served: Adult learners, unemployed, and underemployed adults
  • Services provided: Career coaching and wraparound services and supports to address basic needs and emergencies, education program access (including LinkedIn Learning), job readiness and preparation, financial coaching and capability, and virtual hiring expos
  • Resources and Readings
    • Greater Houston Partnership Persona Presentation: Over the summer, Greater Houston Partnership Foundation interviewed about 30 jobseekers from the Houston region who were looking for better career opportunities because of the pandemic. Using these data, they created four personas that were representative of the goals and challenges of the region’s jobseekers. The personas are being used by community partners to improve the delivery of services and supports for clients. In addition, some of their employer partners are adjusting their recruiting activities to ensure they are sensitive to the issues identified in the personas. You can review their presentation here
  • Website: Houston Back on Track:
  • Partners:
    • Change Happens
    • Dress for Success Houston
    • Gulf Coast Workforce Solutions
    • HCA Houston Healthcare
    • Houston Area Urban League
    • Houston Community College
    • Houston Food Bank
    • Houston Methodist
    • LISC Houston
    • Lone Star College
    • Mustang Cat
    • Primary Services
    • San Jacinto College
    • Silver Eagle Distributors
    • The WorkFaith Connection
    • United Way of Greater Houston
    • Wesley Community Center
  • Contact: Peter Beard, Senior Vice President of Regional Workforce Development, at or Carl Salazar, Director of Workforce Recovery, at
Back on Track, Houston Job Recovery Initiative

We have learned the importance of cultivating our role as an intermediary. It takes time, patience, and intentionality to build trust with our partners and understand where everyone’s goals align. This process was instrumental in helping us implement our first collaborative workforce training pilot project through the UpSkill Waco initiative. We still have work to do, but it has been positive to see the willingness of our partners to commit to new and better ways of upskilling and reskilling underserved members of our community. – Tiffany Gallegos Whitley, Director of Workforce Initiatives, Prosper Waco

  • Purpose: The UpSkill Waco initiative seeks to increase education-to-workforce system alignment and build McLennan County’s capacity to provide equitable skills training, credentials, and job placement support in high demand occupations across the county. UpSkill Waco focuses on three career paths: healthcare, advanced manufacturing, and construction trades.
  • Constituencies Served: Unemployed and underemployed adults, Opportunity Youth, Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino students
  • Services Provided: Offer upskill training courses, deliver technical and soft skills training and credentials based on employer needs, and provide ongoing coaching and support after participants obtain employment to promote employee retention
  • Website: UpSkill Waco
  • Partners:
    • Antioch Community Church
    • Baylor University
    • Caterpillar
    • Capstone Mechanical
    • Cen-Tex African American Chamber of Commerce
    • Cen-Tex Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
    • Christian Women’s Job Corps.
    • City of Waco
    • Community Bank & Trust
    • Communities in Schools of the Heart of Texas
    • Education, Talent, & Workforce Alliance
    • Grassroots Community Development
    • Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce
    • Heart of Texas Goodwill Industries
    • McLennan Community College
    • McLennan County
    • Prosper Waco
    • Rydell Realty
    • Texas State Technical College
    • Texas Workforce Commission
    • Triple Win
    • Total Placements
    • Waco Business League
    • Waco ISD
    • Waco Employer Resource Network
    • Youth Homelessness Demonstration Project
  • Contact: Tiffany Gallegos Whitley, Director of Workforce Initiatives, at
Prosper Waco

Trellis Foundation is giving Project Unity the opportunity and resources to pull groups in the community together to have discussions around why low-income adults and adults of color have so many challenges to successful career pathways through secondary education. The end goal will be for workforce, educational, and support service systems to align in ways that give greater access and opportunities to low-income adults and adults of color in our community. – Jeannie Mansill, President/CEO, Project Unity

  • Purpose: Project Unity’s One For All Collaboration Project seeks to align regional workforce and educational systems to prioritize the pressing needs and career pathways for low-income adults and adults of color in light of COVID-19 and other unequitable conditions in the Brazos Valley region.
  • Constituencies Served: Low-income adults, adults of color, justice impacted adults and entry-level workers
  • Grant Activities: Host multi-hour workgroup meetings to align system elements that will reduce fragmentation, expand access and improve efficiencies; conduct focus groups to identity barriers and obstacles using appreciative inquiry and creative problem-solving; finance scholarships for target population adults to enroll in associate degree programs; assist working adults in finding more effective and efficient pathways
  • Website: Project Unity:
  • Partners:
    • Blinn College District
    • Brazos Valley Council of Governments (BVCOG)
    • Bryan ISD Career and Technical Education
    • Texas A&M University
  • Contact: Project Unity:
Project Unity

Our goal is to provide access to education and job mobility opportunities for populations with the highest needs. In turn, we can help end generational cycles of poverty and improve the economic vitality of the San Antonio community. – Elizabeth Velarde, Program Manager, Upgrade

  • Purpose: San Antonio Education Partnership’s Upgrade program aims to create opportunities and access to career pathways to support adult students seeking to re-skill and upskill in the workforce. The Upgrade Program will focus on three main career pathway sectors: IT, healthcare and manufacturing.
  • Constituencies Served: Adult learners, non-student adults, unemployed adults
  • Services provided: Career exploration; academic advising; college transcript/transferable credit review; college research and applications; financial aid applications; scholarship resources and referrals to government agencies, higher education institutions and community-based organizations for wraparound services
  • Website:
  • Partners:
    • Alamo Colleges District (ACD)
    • City of San Antonio-Economic Development Department (EDD)
    • Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce
    • H-E-B
    • Project Quest
    • SA Works
    • The Graduate! Network
    • The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA)
    • TX Fame
    • Workforce Solutions Alamos (WSA)
    • UTSA – The Office of Extended Education
  • Contact:
San Antonio Partnership Upgrade

Temple College’s goal is to eliminate poverty and help advance the lives of students and their families through education, training, and post-secondary credentials that lead to high paying careers. The Trellis Foundation is supporting this work by allowing us to connect with broader audiences, supporting adult learners, leveraging reskilling funds, creating resources for underserved populations, and supporting Temple College in advancing the mission of community colleges. Together we will continue to make a differences in people’s lives. – Dr. Christy Ponce, Temple College President

  • Purpose: The Next Step Project recruits and expands supports for adults, ages 22 and over, who want to return to college and complete an unfinished degree or credential. The project also targets graduates who could benefit from additional training or community member who became unemployed because of the pandemic.
  • Constituencies Served: Returning adult learners, ages 22 and over; unemployed adults; stop-out students
  • Grant Activities: Recruit and assist adult students who have stopped out of college, develop curriculum for the Adult Student Orientation to help situate students into and back into the academic environment, provide professional development programs for Temple College faculty to increase their understanding of adult students, and pair returning adult students with faculty mentors for additional support
  • Resources and Readings:
  • Website: Circle of Support:
  • Partners:
    • BBVA Bank in Temple
    • Chamber of Commerce
    • City of Temple
    • H-E-B
    • Temple and Belton Economic Development Cooperation
    • Temple Community Clinic
    • Temple Industrial Foundation
    • Texas A&M University Central
    • Workforce Solutions of Central Texas (WSCT)
  • Contact: Clarissa Martinez, Director of Circle of Support & Alumni Relations, at
Temple College

Workforce Solutions of West Central Texas through the Never2Late initiative aims to increase access and improve opportunities for upskilling/reskilling and entry into better jobs that pay family sustaining wages by focusing on pathways for manufacturing and retail. One of the first steps was to organize a Steering Committee of key community and business leaders to closely look at the systemic barriers and issues facing the underserved and underemployed workers of West Central Texas. The resulting solution was to collaborate with the Social Work Department of Abilene Christian University and secure the services of a Master Level Social Work Candidate Intern. Our Intern has been conducting interviews of clients, customers and referrals of our community agencies, collecting data, stories and causes of why people continue to struggle. Digging deep in our communities and listening to their perceptions and barriers will give the Steering Committee insight to the cultural and system wide issues that don’t allow for equitable movement and advancement into these pathways. Education and training will likely be what is tackled in the near future. – Bill Dean, Director of Business Services of Workforce Solutions of West Central Texas

  • Purpose: Develop a regional model built on core competencies identified by industry leaders that offers equitable access, accelerates learning, and promotes entry into economically stable employment.
  • Constituencies Served: Adult learners, workers negatively impacted by Covid-19, Opportunity Youth, and individuals with disabilities.
  • Grant Strategies: Identify potential career pathways related to manufacturing and business/retail; examine the existing landscape of education and workforce alignment to identify barriers that restrict access or inhibit successful advancement and completion; analyze data collected to develop and implement clear pathways for adult learners
  • Website: Workforce Solutions of West Central Texas:
  • Partners:
    • 2-1-1 A Call for Help/United Way of Abilene
    • Abilene Christian University – Steering Committee Members
    • Abilene ISD Adult Education
    • Arrow Ford
    • Christian Service Center
    • Cisco College
    • Development Corporation of Abilene
    • Goodwill of West Central Texas
    • International Rescue Committee
    • Texas State Technical College
    • USG Corporation
  • Contact: Bill Dean, Director of Business Services, at
Workforce Solutions of West Central Texas