On December 4, 1967 the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.announced plans for a Poor People’s Campaign. He called for transformative actions to end poverty. Despite his assassination and deep divisions in the country and movement, the mobilization of poor people continued.
Today we are experiencing poverty and hardship in the midst of unprecedented abundance and record inequality. In the United States, at least 46.5 million people, including 1 of every 5 children, live in poverty. Another 97.3 million are officially designated as low income. This means that nearly one in every two people is poor or low income with most others only an economic or health setback from joining them. Meanwhile, racial and gender inequality remain as deep as ever.
History has shown that a powerful movement requires the involvement and support of all people with an interest in a radically different society—which means nearly everyone. Not only are the poor increasingly drawn from every sector of society, but even those who feel economically secure see that mass poverty and economic hardship amidst such wealth and productive power violates our most sacred values.
2017 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Poor People’s Campaign launched by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.—his last, and in profound ways most far reaching and challenging, campaign. It is important to honor the anniversary of the Poor People’s Campaign. Given the conditions of poverty, inequality and injustice we face today, the only genuine way to commemorate the past struggle is to launch a new one.
By Lisa Dyas December 7, 2016
On December 2, 2016, Tipping Point Community hosted its 10th Annual Awards Breakfast in honor of standout community partners and individuals committed to breaking the cycle of poverty in the Bay Area. It was a morning of reflection — on the uncertainty many feel in the wake of the recent election, and the unifying force we become when we work together for the betterment of our community.
“Amidst all this change, we must demonstrate our values will remain, and I have no better source of hope and optimism than from our honorees here today.” Daniel Lurie, CEO + Founder
Adrienne Kimball received the Community Hero Award for her work at Rubicon Programs, a Tipping Point grantee since 2005, that focuses on transforming individual lives and improving Bay Area communities through jobs, housing and healthcare. Kimball was first introduced to Rubicon because many of her family members sought services at the organization. For seven years, she worked as the organization’s executive assistant, while today, she serves as its culture manager, helping to elevate the voice of the staff and preserve the team’s core values. “It takes a certain mindset to stay in poverty. It’s the mindset that you’re not worth it. That the solutions being offered don’t work, and the solutions that do work aren’t for you,” said Kimball. “Shifting that mindset is how we make progress.”
By Lisa Dyas November 28, 2016
Bank of America has announced Rubicon Programs as one of two 2016 Neighborhood Builders for the San Francisco-East Bay region. Rubicon, along with Compass Family Services in San Francisco, are being recognized for their work in reducing homelessness and poverty, which in turn supports the sustainable growth of the San Francisco Bay Area economy. Through Neighborhood Builders, Bank of America provides nonprofits with a unique combination of leadership development, $200,000 in flexible funding, a network of peer organizations across the U.S. and the opportunity to access capital in order to expand their impact in the San Francisco Bay Area community.
“We recognize the critical role that nonprofits play in combating homelessness and poverty, creating economic progress in the San Francisco Bay Area,” said Thong Nguyen, Bank of America market president for the San Francisco-East Bay. “Through our Neighborhood Builders program, we connect outstanding organizations, like Rubicon Programs and Compass Family Services, to the funding and resources they need to scale their impact and help our community thrive.”
Rubicon Programs breaks the cycle of poverty in the East Bay by empowering its participants to develop economic mobility. "We are delighted to be selected by Bank of America for the Neighborhood Builders award,” said Jane Fischberg, CEO of Rubicon Programs. “It is an honor to be included in the company of our peers whose work we value and admire who have been past recipients. This award also brings recognition to the potential that we see in the people and neighborhoods that we serve."
Neighborhood Builders is a signature demonstration of the bank’s work to address issues fundamental to economic mobility in order to build thriving communities and illustrates how strong cross-sector partnerships and local community leaders can play a meaningful role in positioning communities for success. The awardees are selected by a local market selection committee with representation by local community leaders from diverse sectors.
By Jane Fischberg November 9, 2016
Today at Rubicon we are finding ways to support each other, and our participants. We are shocked that there are more than enough US voters to hand an electoral victory to someone who is at odds with the core values we work to uphold each day. We are taking today to grieve, and to begin the process of healing.
In California, the electorate voted in opposition to the stands we took on three of six propositions, including expressing support for the death penalty -- not only affirming the death penalty but also putting into place procedures to expedite implementation of individual sentences.
We will find our way to keep hope alive, as always believing in the strength and potential of the communities in which we work. We will continue our work with partner organizations, knowing that in unity we will find mutual strength.
Please take today to be extra kind to those people in your life who give you meaning. Love and hope prevail over fear and hatred. That will keep us moving forward.
By Jane Fischberg November 7, 2016
It’s been said before, but as we come right up to Election Day, it is worth repeating: let’s stop saying we are going to Canada if our candidate doesn’t win. We cannot weasel out of our nationality. Sure, Canada seems like a kinder nation right now, far less polarized than the US, and immune from the lows of this 2016 presidential race, but we are a privileged few who get to even imagine fleeing the country if our candidate doesn’t prevail.
I hope that is no surprise that I find the possibility of a Trump presidency abhorrent. His complete disregard for the people and communities in which we see so much promise, potential, knowledge, and vitality proves that in his world, some lives absolutely matter more than others. If he wins, the lives of people who are the target of his hate – people of color, people living in poverty, immigrants, those who have been in the criminal justice system, women, people who are LGBQT, people who are differently abled -- anyone who does not look/act like him – will worsen. Freedoms and rights will be curtailed, injustice will win out.
A Clinton win, however, will not magically make our problems disappear. There are real issues in the communities that Rubicon serves. Some of these challenges can be addressed with support from agencies like Rubicon and our many community partners who are dedicated to helping people reach their full potential. Other challenges have nothing to do with the actual people living in marginalized communities, but the lens with which outsiders choose to view them. While the rhetoric has not reached Trump-level volume, the seeds are there and they are just as dangerous.
Over late September and early October, Buzzfeed, Fortune, the New York Post and Bay Area NPR affiliate KQED covered a story on unsafe working conditions and incidents of violence at Blue Apron’s Richmond, CA and Jersey City, NJ warehouse facilities. Despite the obvious irony of low wage workers packaging gourmet meals in dangerous working conditions for well paid professionals, the reporting in all of the coverage seemed very comfortable with the tired trope that places the blame for Blue Apron’s workplace safety violations and violence on the shoulders of its local workforce.
The Buzzfeed article describes people hired at Blue Apron’s Richmond facility as ‘ex-con’s[sic], parolees, and gang members’, and with the exception of its geographical merits, Richmond is reduced to, “a challenged town” with a “fairly high crime rate” and a “history of gang violence.” Not only is this a narrow view, it is at odds with the realities of other successful warehouse businesses in Richmond. The article notes that HelloFresh, Grace Baking, Richmond Wholesale Meat Warehouse, CostCo, Delmonte Fresh, Safeway Bread Baking, all of whom have facilities near Blue Apron’s, do not have the same problems with workplace safety and violence.
It is worth noting that the company also was cited for similar problems at the Jersey City location. Think about it -- two facilities nearly 3,000 miles apart, each experiencing high rates of violence and workplace safety hazards. Let’s not scapegoat the employees.
On the surface, this may seem small, but the implications are bigger. How willing are we to nod knowingly when we see the words “violence” and “ex-con” together in a story about workplace problems? Is it the same instinct that has drawn so many people to the idea our inner-cities and immigrants, are people and places to be feared? They are both about other-ing, about disregard and enmity for people other than one’s own, about blaming people who have little power. One could say they are both about refuting our higher angels.
This is what I come to – that it is incumbent on us to keep up the struggle – to stay in the US, speak truth, shine a light on what’s right, believe in the potential of all people, and have hope for a more just tomorrow.
Read the Blue Apron coverage: