VISION: Pete Weber, Founder and Chair of the California Bridge Academies

The Fresno Bridge Academy (FBA) traces its origin to the Fresno Regional Jobs Initiative (RJI), an economic development initiative launched in 2004. The RJI was premised on the notion of strengthening and/or developing industry clusters that offered growth potential for Fresno County. By the late 2000’s it had become apparent that the RJI strategies were unlikely to reach most of the residents in Fresno’s poorest neighborhoods because they lacked the education, job skills, experience, and often the work-ethic to participate in the RJI industry clusters. A different strategy would need to be conceived and applied to bring residents in Fresno’s poorest neighborhoods into the economic mainstream. An analysis of available literature described various theories for how to achieve this goal but little in the way of empirical evidence of success. A new model would need to be created.

Five core ideas guided the design of the model:

  1. 1 “Dual Generation Theory of Change”. Bringing people into the economic mainstream requires a holistic family approach. The FBA model requires that all aspects of employability and life needs are provided through a co-managed, wrap-around triage of specialized resources, including employment/training, “life skills” training for adults, and support services to help ensure children succeed in school.

  2. 2 Build on what already exists. The FBA does not duplicate services that already exist. Instead, it serves as a pipeline to services and resources for job-seeking adults and their families to break down barriers of limited access, fear, or inability to navigate the maze of available services offered by various government agencies and non-profits.

  3. 3 Ease of service access. The FBA is place-based, with academies located in urban and rural communities of concentrated poverty. Wherever possible, services are provided on site.

  4. 4 An "A-B-C" Approach to Self-Reliance: The Fresno Bridge Academy Program employs a three-tier approach to self-reliance, assisting job-seeking adults as they transition from acquiring A job to getting a Better job, then to developing a Career.

  5. 5 Career and Family Navigators.At intake, FBA clients undergo two kinds of assessment, one to determine best fit and training needs for employment; the second to determine family needs. “Case managers” at the FBA are called Career and Family Navigators because their role is to assist families in successfully navigating their way to self-reliance. They are the heart of the FBA model.

Fresno Bridge Academy