Rubicon Programs Awarded 2016 Neighborhood Builders Award

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.

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Keep Us Moving Forward

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.

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Reflections on an Election Season

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:

Buzzfeed/ The not so wholesome reality behind the making of your meal?

Fortune/ lReport details Blue Apron's violent, unsafe, high-pressure packing facility

Grubstreet/ Did Blue Apron's fast growth create sweatshoplike warehouse conditions

KQED/ Blue Apron, one of Richmond's biggest employers, under fire

NY Post/ Blue Apron's busy New Jersey facility a real fight club

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Rubicon Voter Guide 2016

By Lisa Dyas October 12, 2016

Vote for justice & equity in our communities!

At Rubicon, we are committed to helping our participants move out of poverty through success in building assets, increasing their income, being well, and building their network of professional and personal connections. We have studied the statewide ballot measures and adopted positions that support our participants' movement toward economic mobility and work to dismantle systemic forces that disproportionately impact communities of color. Our guide is grounded in Rubicon's values of hope, justice, and humility. 

We hope that you will consider our recommendations on the upcoming ballot measures. Let's move toward our vision of an East Bay without poverty.
Please consider our recommendations on the upcoming ballot measures. Register to vote before October 24 in Alameda & Contra Costa Counties. ​ Let’s move towards our vision of an East Bay without poverty.

Prop 57 - Vote Yes

Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act: Would increase sentencing credits for adult inmates, allow earlier parole for non-violent felons and let judges decide which juvenile offenders are tried as adults.

At Rubicon, we believe prison is not an effective or equitable way to increase public safety, especially as a response to non-violent offenses. We support getting more people out of the prison system and back to their families, where they can build the skills and connections needed to better their lives and be positive change agents in their communities. 

Prop 61- Vote Yes

State Prescription Drug Purchases. Pricing Standards. Initiative Statute: Would impose controls on state purchases of prescription drugs, establishing that prices can be no higher than what the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs pays.

Wellness plays an integral part in being able to secure and retain employment, remain proactive in your life, engage in positive relationships and activities, and ultimately break the cycle of poverty. We support keeping prescription drug costs under control to ensure that people experiencing poverty can continue to improve and maintain their health and wellness.

Prop 62 - Vote Yes

Justice That Works: Death Penalty Abolition: Would do away with the nation's largest death row and substitute life sentences with no chance of parole for nearly 750 condemned inmates. A competing measure to speed up executions is also on the ballot. 

Rubicon is against the costly, dysfunctional, and racially biased death penalty system that disproportionately affect our communities. Mounting evidence indicates the death penalty convictions are often biased, and is applied unevenly to poor people and people of color. We unequivocally support abolishing the death penalty. 

Prop 63 - Vote Yes

Safety for All Act: Would tighten California’s already tough gun control laws by requiring background checks to buy ammunition, outlaw possession of large-capacity ammunition magazines and streamline a program that allows authorities to seize firearms from owners who are no longer allowed to own them. NOTE: Increases the penalty for theft of a firearm to a Felony, regardless of whether $950 or under.

Many of the communities that we serve are disproportionately impacted by gun violence. We believe that tightening gun control laws will lead to less violence. There is growing evidence that demonstrates that states with strong gun control laws see fewer overall gun deaths.

Prop 64 - Vote Yes

Marijuana Legalization: Would allow adults 21 and over to buy an ounce of marijuana and marijuana-infused products at licensed retail outlets and also to grow up to six pot plants for personal recreational use. 

Rubicon supports the decriminalization of drug use. Historically, drug laws have disproportionately impacted people of color living in poverty. This proposition also reduces the sale of marijuana to a misdemeanor, and allows for destruction of records within two years for certain marijuana offenses. Individuals with prior marijuana sales or growing convictions would be eligible for re-sentencing, and those with completed sentences could apply to have their records expunged.

Prop 66 - Vote No

Shortening Death Penalty Appeals: Would accelerate appeals by inmates on death row to speed up executions. A competing measure to repeal the death penalty is also on the ballot. NOTE: If both 62 and 66 pass the one with the higher percentage of the vote will become law.

Rubicon does not support the death penalty. The potential of taking the life of an innocent person is unacceptable. Mounting evidence indicates that false convictions are frequent and disproportionately impact people of color.  

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Holding a Book, Having a Disability, Having a car breakdown – while being Black

By Jane Fischberg September 22, 2016

Recently I have been silent on police killings of people who are black, because I could not come up with anything unique or helpful to add to the discourse on social media -- posts, blogs, articles, many of which are more articulate than I could hope to be.  I didn’t want to be sanctimonious, redundant.  Nor did I wish to inadvertently disrespect the dignity of each life lost, each unique soul who was gunned done by those charged with protecting public safety.

Just as we hear or read the details of one death and see a new hashtag, we hear of yet another brutal killing.

I cannot speak with the righteous anger of my black friends and colleagues so I try to find my own voice. I try to imagine what it would be like if people who look like me were gunned down on a daily basis while carrying on the business of their lives. I could invoke the purge and genocide of Jews during the Holocaust.  And I don’t wish to lessen the dignity of those 6 million lives lost, nor deny history, nor say that one genocide is more important than another.  My family was lucky – we made it to the US in the late decade of the 19th century and early decades of the 20th.  I pay homage to my ancestors, and their brethren who were not so lucky.

Never again, we say.

Genocide happened, and is happening again here.  If our nation’s Original Sin was genocide of Native Americans, then the legacy of slavery is our Second Sin. 

I try to imagine -- and I keep coming back to what it must have been like when white slave owners sought to recapture slaves who had escaped in search of a free life.  I have been reading Homegoing and I reflect on the relationship between our nation’s Second Sin and what is happening in our world today.  I think of Ness and Sam’s escape, capture, the brutal punishment they both received -- and Sam’s fate. 

We cannot distance ourselves from this traumatic legacy

So, as a white person, what can I do?  Here is what Derrick Weston says:

1. Don’t Silence Us
2. Confession
3. Use your privilege for good
4. Amplify black voices
5. Transfer resources

Wise words.

Read Weston's full post>>

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