An $850,000 grant from the James Irvine Foundation will expand and replicate a Fresno job-training program across several counties.
Reading and Beyond – an education program for children and families – announced it received the grant on Tuesday, and will use it to grow the Fresno Bridge Academy, which provides free job training while also considering needs of the recipients’ family members.
The Bridge Academy offers comprehensive workforce development and other services to families that are CalFresh beneficiaries and want to “transition to self-reliance.” The 18-month program has served 2,400 Fresno-area families since it was created in 2011.
Similar programs have been launched in Madera, Napa and San Joaquin counties, and the new grant will help expand the program to several other counties across the state.
More than 80 percent of those enrolled in Fresno Bridge Academy programs have obtained new employment or significantly increased their wages, according to Nikki Newsome, Bridge Academy director.
“We’re working with the entire family – making sure that children are going to school and the spouse in the house is getting resources. We realize that if we keep working in these silos, we don’t really get to the root of the issue, and often times our families can’t retain that success,” Newsome said.
“We really try to listen to the families about where they want to go in their career and help guide them to in-demand jobs.”
The Reading and Beyond grant is one of 22 The James Irvine Foundation awarded in December.