Officials hope adult learning academy will open doors for Madera County residents

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Reading and Beyond opened its new Madera Bridge Academy. The academy is known for offering classes to those who want to receive a high school diploma. (KFSN)

With the cut of a ribbon, there is now a bridge to a better future for people in Madera County.

Monday morning, Reading and Beyond opened its new Madera Bridge Academy. The academy is known for offering classes to those who want to receive a high school diploma.

"We know education is the main issue among the people on why they don't get jobs," executive director Luis Santana said. "So, we said we are a least going to help them get their GED and create a path for them to go to higher education."

Santana says once a client completes their high school education, the work doesn't stop there. The program pairs clients with mentors for 18 months.

He says the idea is to make sure they move onto college or job training courses and that they find employment in their desired field soon after.

"It was very important for us to be able to bring something that we think will impact the community," he says. "One of those things is job training, but not the traditional way."

Anyone who is on the CalFresh Food Assistance Program is eligible to join for free. Madera County leaders hope the bridge academy will help those who rely on government assistance to become more independent.

"Thirty-five percent of the people in Madera County are in some type of program," Madera County Supervisor Max Rodriquez explained. "Perhaps we can kind of teach them to be more self-reliant."

Reading and Beyond worked with the Madera County Board of Supervisors to secure funding and grants from CalFresh for the new Madera location.

Santana says they will be able to serve 60 to 80 clients and will have the capability to help hundreds more in the near future.
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