Trellis Foundation awards VIDA $100,000 to support college completion strategies

Felida Villarreal, VIDA’s President & CEO, said her nonprofit will use the Trellis funding to continue enhancing career pathways for low-income students. 

MERCEDES, Texas – Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement (VIDA) has been awarded a $100,000 grant from the Trellis Foundation to support college completion strategies. 

The Trellis Foundation advances equitable educational opportunities in Texas by supporting postsecondary programs, practices and systems that reduce disparities and lead to success for low-income students and students of color. 

The $100,000 grant being provided to VIDA is part of $2.5 million in grants Trellis is awarding to 26 Texas community-based organizations providing direct impact services to support students in college completion.

“These grants are an acknowledgment of the innovative and essential work that community-based organizations engage in and our commitment to this important part of the postsecondary completion ecosystem,” said Trellis Foundation’s Executive Director Kristin Boyer. “We are proud to support so many organizations like VIDA, and we’re excited to learn more about their service to students in the Rio Grande Valley.”

Felida Villarreal, VIDA’s President & CEO, said her nonprofit will use the Trellis funding to continue enhancing career pathways for low-income students. 

“We are immensely grateful to the Trellis Foundation, for selecting VIDA as a recipient of this $100,000 grant. A recent report published by The Institute of College Access and Success (TICAS) states that less than half of first-time, full-time Pell recipients graduate within six years, and outcomes for Latinos are worse. Hence, it is our continued priority to provide customized wraparound student support services to improve educational outcomes, one VIDA at a time.” Villarreal said.

About VIDA

For nearly 28 years, VIDA has helped more than 6,000 economically disadvantaged valley residents successfully complete career training programs in high demand occupations and achieve self-sufficiency. Last year, VIDA served 534 participants with an average persistence rate of 94% and an average annual salary upon graduation of over $48,000. Villarreal said this is a true representation of human capital investment and aligning workforce skills with local industry demand. 

Trellis Strategies launched

The Trellis Foundation should not be confused with Trellis Strategies. 

“The Trellis Foundation awards grants and works with local organizations throughout Texas to help make postsecondary education more attainable to underserved populations,” said Chelsea Rounsley, communications specialist with Trellis Strategies. “Trellis Strategies, however, is a research and consulting firm that analyzes national and local data to help our partners improve higher education programming, policymaking, and more.”

Debra Chromy, President and CEO of Trellis, said Trellis has over four decades of experience supporting higher education. She said Trellis is proud to announce the official launch of Trellis Strategies.  

“The journey to obtaining a higher education degree or credential is becoming increasingly less linear,” said Chromy. “By launching Trellis Strategies, we are well positioned to provide insights to help higher education and industry evolve at a time when it is needed the most.” 

A Trellis press release stated: “Trellis Strategies is a strategic research and consulting firm dedicated to advancing postsecondary education and strengthening the workforce by delivering unparalleled insights into the student experience. Leveraging its history of organizational excellence, Trellis Strategies seeks to serve open-access and under-resourced institutions of higher education, assist institutions in attracting and retaining modern learners, and provide alignment to industry needs.”

Bryan Ashton, Chief Strategy and Growth Officer of Trellis, said Trellis Strategies will leverage extensive organizational research experience to help identify opportunities and provide scalable, tailored solutions for their partners. This data-driven approach, Ashton said, will assist institutions in strengthening the learner experience, increasing enrollment, and aligning outcomes with industry needs.  

“Trellis Strategies provides leaders with actionable data,” said Ashton. “Our approach focuses on removing barriers in policy and processes, not constructing new ones.” 

Trellis Strategies excels in supporting a wide range of educational institutions, with a particular focus on open access and under resourced institutions of higher education, Ashton added, making it a powerful ally for the broader education community.  

Editor’s Note: To learn more about VIDA, visit or call (956) 903-1900.

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