Fresno jobs program receives $10M from USDA

Saturday, March 21, 2015
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Fresno is one of just ten communities chosen by the USDA to help people find well-paying jobs

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno is one of just ten communities chosen by the United States Department of Agriculture to help people find well-paying jobs and get off of assistance programs. The USDA announced Friday a Fresno program will receive more than $12 Million in grant funding. A move to help Americans get back to work.

Angel Hernandez knows the struggle of trying to make ends meet. "Being without work was a struggle," he said.

Just two years ago he couldn't keep a steady job and didn't have the money to further his education beyond a GED. His story isn't unique to Fresno the latest unemployment rate -- 11.6 percent -- is nearly double the national rate.

"Officially the recession over is over for the US for tens of millions of people. But for many people it isn't over yet," said USDA Under Secretary Kevin Concannon.

It's a problem the USDA hopes to tackle by providing ten states with federal assistance for job training. $12.3 Million dollars of funding is coming right here to Fresno. The goal? To help families who rely on food stamps and other assistance programs find well-paying jobs.

"It is a very organic, bottom up community based program. And we are thrilled to be here to celebrate $12 million that will come in to Fresno to move people from dependents to independents," said Secretary Diana Dooley of the California Health and Human Services Agency.

Hernandez is now a chemical mixer in Fresno. He trained at the Career and Technology Center at Fresno City College before getting a job. His boss said he's on track to become a manager.

"You know to see where he was to where he's come. You know hearing the stories from his family it can't get any better than that," said Custom Ag Formulators Vice President Ryan Stewart.

Two private research organizations are evaluating how well the programs perform in each state with hopes of expanding it in the future.

The California program beat out 35 other states who applied funding which will last for three years.