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September 24, 2014

Founded in 1965, the Metropolitan Area Advisory Committee on Anti-Poverty (MAAC) was created with a mission to maximize self-sufficiency with families and individuals through high-quality programs and advocacy in its communities. As one of San Diego’s largest nonprofit social services providers, assisting more than 35,000 people each year, MAAC strives to eliminate social and economic barriers leading to increased self-reliance. “We’re always looking to deliver services to give people hope, to give them a leg up, to get them started, and to start breaking the cycle of poverty one person at a time,” says Gabriel Fernandez, a work-readiness trainer at MAAC.

MAAC assists individuals through programs under four pillars of service: career pathways, education, health and wellness, and housing. The career pathways model integrates supportive services with training and mentoring for high-demand occupations to serve low-income individuals with limited education and skills.

One such program, Bridge to Employment, which is funded by SDWP, is a unique collaboration among community partners that is designed to address the regional workforce development needs of the healthcare industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, careers in allied health, healthcare and administration are projected to experience continued growth over the next five years. To address the anticipated need for a skilled workforce, MAAC collaborates with numerous agencies in San Diego County to prepare individuals for training, identify vocational or educational options, seek income support and, ultimately, find a job. 

“A lot of these individuals come in and are disappointed because they don’t have a lot of experience, but we are here to let them know that that’s OK,” says Maruja Webb, Bridge to Employment job developer. “It’s about helping them find themselves again, enter the workforce and be able to care for their families on their own.”

Bridge to Employment participants benefit from work-readiness training, case management, job coaching and tuition assistance for programs in medical billing, dental assisting and similar professions. Bridge to Employment is a multi-faceted program, which goes beyond job placement, identifying the right program for the right candidate and offering continued supportive services from financial assistance for gas, uniforms and books to employer introductions after they have completed training.

“It’s not just training. We are changing people’s lives and changing people’s families, one job at a time,” Fernandez says. “We have a passion to make sure the entire process is completed. We’re invested in the person from start to finish—all the way to job placement.” 

For more information on MAAC, visit

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