Reading and Beyond’s continuing mission is to empower children and families to achieve productive, self-reliant lives. That mission does not stop at teaching children to read, but goes beyond in assisting their parents.


The Fresno Bridge Academy, our workforce development program, is designed to help eligible unemployed and under-employed adults become employed and/or job-ready. Our goal is to help at least 470 families annually to achieve and maintain self-reliance through completing our program. We us the ABC motto – we are helping people to find A job, get a Better job, or begin a Career.


The program has three offices to better serve the community. The first office is at Reading and Beyond’s main office in Southeast Fresno at the Mosqueda Community Center, the second office is in the Lowell neighborhood at the Dickey Youth Development Center, and our third office is located at the Department of Social Services Office in Coalinga.


Each office has Career & Family Navigators (CFNs) who actively recruit program participants from their respective neighborhoods, and connect families to various local service organizations in an effort to eliminate any barriers that the participant and/or their family may be facing. There is also a Job Developer that builds employer relationships and assists job-ready participants in getting hired.


The purpose of the Fresno Bridge Academy is to identify eligible participants and accomplish one or more of the following:


  1. The participant becomes employed.

  2. The participant finds better employment.

  3. The participant achieves wage progression.

  4. The participant is deemed promotable by their employer.

  5. The participant successfully completes job/vocational training.

  6. The participant’s family is connected with resources that will help eliminate potential barriers to success.


To help participants meet these goals, the Fresno Bridge Academy offers a Job Club Workshop series, focused wrap-around case management, direct job development services, digital literacy workshops and training, GED and CAHSEE tutoring, and referrals to local service organizations and career training centers. Job Club Workshops and Digital Literacy Workshops are offered weekly at the Fresno locations and as needed at the Coalinga location with topics such as Resume Writing, Cover Letter Techniques, Job Search Tips, Interviewing Skills, How to Create an Email Account, etc.


Eligible participants are adults that reside with a minor child, are unemployed or under-employed, and meet the following criteria:


  1. At least 18 years old

  2. Legally eligible for employment

  3. Receiving CalFresh (food stamp) benefits only or have an open WTW plan

  4. Registered with the U.S. Selective Service (Armed Forces, men only)

  5. Living within the Southeast Fresno, Lowell, or Coalinga neighborhoods.


Eliminating barriers is the primary way to achieve successful completion of the program. CFNs are responsible for linking participants’ families with appropriate resources needed to remove those barriers. This may include referrals to supportive services such as child care, transportation, food assistance, mental health services, housing assistance, etc. CFNs work closely with various organizations such as the Department of Social Services and others to quickly remove these barriers.


For more information, please contact the Fresno Bridge Academy Program Manager, Nikki Newsome.

 

Fresno Bridge Academy

Dickey Youth Center

1515 E. Divisadero

Fresno, CA 93721

(559) 492-2201


Maria Ruvalcaba

Lead Career & Family Navigator

mmoreno@readingandbeyond.org


Raul Cruz

Career & Family Navigator

rcruz@readingandbeyond.org


Carmelita Demus

Career & Family Navigator

cdemus@readingandbeyond.org


Bee Yang

Career & Family Navigator

byang@readingandbeyond.org


Nakia Vue

Career & Family Navigator

nvue@readingandbeyond.org


Sandra Martinez

Computer Lab Technician

smartinez@readingandbeyond.org


Leslee Weaver

GED Tutor

lweaver@readingandbeyond.org

Mosqueda Center

4670 E. Butler Ave.

Fresno, CA 93702

  1. (559)600-6192


Arasely Linares

Lead Career & Family Navigator

alinares@readingandbeyond.org


Patricia Valdez

Career & Family Navigator

pvaldez@readingandbeyond.org


Adela Cervantes

Career & Family Navigator

acervantes@readingandbeyond.org


Ama Jhujj

Career & Family Navigator

ajhujj@readingandbeyond.org


Lynn Harrod

Computer Lab Technician

lharrod@readingandbeyond.org


Leslee Weaver

GED Tutor

lweaver@readingandbeyond.org

Testimonial


"What impressed me about the approach [Fresno Bridge Academy] is taking is that it is holistic in nature.  It is looking at the many circumstances or conditions that contribute to the dire situation many families find themselves in. No one wants to be impoverished, but I would imagine that it is easy to become overwhelmed by the situation.  How do you pull yourself out?  Where do you begin?  I don’t know one parent who doesn’t want their children to have a better life than they did.  It’s a working example of the proverbial “give a man a fish” vs. “teach a man to fish.”


Mary Ann Cusator

Coordinator

Fresno County Office of Education

Success Spotlight

 

Stephen Forest joined the Fresno Bridge Academy and worked closely with his CFN, Patricia Valdez, to plan his pathway to success.  One major goal identified in Stephen’s pathway was to complete his GED. He began tutoring on February 6, 2013, with a lot of determination and motivation.  He began with one goal in mind – complete his GED by the end of March. 

 

For the next few weeks, Stephen came to tutoring every Monday, Wednesday and Friday for 1 hour with RAB’s GED tutor, Gona Yang.  He placed a major focus on Math.  He always came on time, motivated and eager to learn all the materials.

 

Although math was his main focus, he also requested additional GED materials on the other four subjects.  He did very well. 

 

On March 4th, he decided to take all five of the subtests.  He found out on March 15th that he passed every test.  After completing his GED, he was able to enroll into Truck Driving training on March 18, 2013. Stephen’s training is being funded by the Veterans. If Stephen would not have received his GED by March 18, 2013, he would not have been able to start the Truck Driving Training. 

 

Patricia will continue to work with Stephen to ensure that he completes his training and move him towards gainful employment.



Photo (L-R): Patricia Valdez, Bridge Academy Career & Family Navigator;

Stephen Forest, Bridge Academy Client; Gona Yang, GED Tutor

 

Nikki Newsome

Program Manager

nnewsome@readingandbeyond.org

Dept. of Social Services - Coalinga

311 Coalinga Plaza

Coalinga, CA 93210

  1. (559)600-6304


Samantha Koutny

Career & Family Navigator

skoutny@readingandbeyond.org