New program matches job training with a company to work for

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A program in Fresno County is helping people get off welfare and find work.

Sally Valenzuela spends her days at Central Valley Auto Glass answering phones and working, but a year ago, she was without a home and at a low point.

"I didn't want to be on assistance, so I asked what is it that I could do and the help was there, they offered me the program," said Sally Valenzuela, Central Valley Auto Glass office manager.

Valenzuela is a part of the New Employment Opportunities (NEO), which started in Fresno County in 2014. People who qualify for welfare to work can get training and matched with a company to work for.

Business owner Guadalupe Aguilera likes helping customers and wanted to give Valenzuela a chance. She says she wasn't disappointed.

"She's a hard worker. She does a lot of things in my business. I think she's prepared to run any kind of business," said Aguilera.

Businesses get a financial incentive. The program pays for the first three months of wages and another portion of that after three months.

"The employers choose from a pool of candidates, and once they get in there, they get that reimbursement that helps them offset that extra training and hiring costs. In turn, we hope that business puts it back into the business to bid on projects that maybe they couldn't do before," said Andrea Reyes, Fresno County EDC.

The program trains people and also provides everything from bus fare, to daycare, to clothing for those who need it. In one year, Valenzuela went working an entry-level position to an office manager.

"Anybody can do anything they want to do, but you have to want it. And I do, I want it. I want my kids to have the best and I'm the only one that provides that," said Valenzuela.

For Valenzuela, it's been a journey that's caused her to see work in a whole different light.

Central Valley Auto Glass is one of more than 200 businesses taking part in the NEO program. It's the only one of its kind in the country, training people and filling the workforce gaps. The program is creating a new frontier in the Valley.

Job Seekers must be part of the Welfare to Work and can call 855-832-8082 or visit for more information.
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