Unlocking Anwar’s Assets, One Month at a Time

By Jonathan Bash December 5, 2018

I was at the end of my rope,” Anwar says with a pensive look in his eyes. “I was looking for jobs. I was even doing well in the interview process. But at the last stage, I just couldn’t get past the background check.”

This recurring roadblock posed a serious challenge to his well-being after an already bumpy couple of years. A workplace accident had triggered a depression that lingered.

“I couldn’t leave the house some days,” he says. “It started to affect my relationships.”

Feelings of worthlessness crept in. He knew he needed to shake that off and try something new. That’s when he made the decision to visit Rubicon Programs.

“I’m willing to do the hard work. I just need a little direction, a little boost. Rubicon assured me that things would come together.”

This gave him the confidence he needed to keep going.

“As soon as I left my first meeting, my Impact Coach, Eric, was texting me to remind me that he’s here to help me out whenever I need it. From there, everything just took off!”

Anwar spent the next few weeks in workshops covering core pathways to change: developing income, building assets, fostering wellness and forging connections. He soon got the boost he needed – advice on how to navigate the job search with a criminal record – and eventually secured a good job with growth potential in the hospitality industry.

“I’m now making the most money I have ever made in my life,” he says. This economic stability finally allowed him to focus on building financial assets and setting the groundwork for a better future.

​To actualize that vision, Anwar met with his Financial Coach, Ken. Together, they checked his credit report.

“I saw everything on my credit report that was bringing down my credit score. We identified things that were going to collections and set-up affordable monthly payments. Then, I applied for a credit card and started using it responsibly. My score then went from very bad to very good!”

Next, with a clean bill of fiscal health in hand, Anwar tackled his transportation challenges.

“My girlfriend and I shared a car that was just one breakdown away from leaving us without any way to get to work.”

What’s worse, Anwar had a backlog of unpaid tickets that snowballed when he couldn’t afford to pay his car registration on time. He had lost his license.

“Rubicon’s lawyers helped me go to court to wipe out all of my tickets – poof, gone! I got my driver’s license back.”

With his license in hand and stellar credit in his back pocket, Anwar worked side-by-side with Ken and Eric to secure a low interest, subsidized car loan. He was approved, and now has a brand new car that provides him with a reliable way to get to work and make a living.

Anwar’s life changed more than he could have imagined in just a few months’ time. But he was still looking toward the future. Using the skills he learned in Rubicon’s Money Management workshop, he created a savings plan and opened a savings account. Ever since, he has been putting away leftover funds at the end of the month.

“I want to buy a home someday. I’m spending a lot on rent. I’d rather pay that money back to myself than throw it away,” he says. “It motivates me to be responsible with my money each month, and save up the 20 percent needed for a down payment. It’s a pride thing – I know it will feel good to own something and I’m willing to work to get there.”

He’s also taking an elective workshop to learn more about finances. “Ken has gotten me interested in saving for retirement. I’d like to learn more about that – but first, I have to save up for a house!”

Anwar is optimistic he’s going to get there. He recently was promoted to be a certified trainer at his workplace, and hopes to continue to rise up the ranks. He’s also taking advantage of every resource Rubicon offers, earning his Hazmat, Occupational Safety and fork lift certifications and licenses.

“I can’t stress enough how grateful I am for Rubicon,” he says. “When I hit rock bottom, I didn’t need a handout. I needed a boost. Rubicon gave me exactly what I need to step out of my comfort zone and change my life.”

What else is next for Anwar?

“Once I buy a house, I’m going to start fostering elderly and disabled animals. I love animals. Absolutely love them.”

Help Rubicon break poverty by donating or explore the full participant journey here.

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#TogetherWeRise

By Jonathan Bash October 27, 2017


Rubicon Programs transforms East Bay communities by equipping people to break the cycle of poverty. 

We believe that no one service is enough to end intergenerational poverty. People are complicated. They can't be reduced to the least common denominator. 

That's why we provide our participants with three years of coaching and opportunities across four core service areas: income, assets, wellness and connections.
 
First, we help our participants get a job and map a long-term career plan. Then, we show them how to grow their savings, build their credit, set a budget and overcome legal barriers. 
 
But we don't stop with these simple economic solutions. 

Physical and emotional health issues, and limited social networks, also keep people in poverty. That's why we offer tailored wellness services and assistance establishing the community networks necessary to build a career, raise a family, and make positive change.

This holistic, flexible approach allows us to end poverty permanently for more than 1,700 people each year. And we all benefit.

Help us build an East Bay without poverty.

Click here to support others like Mario, Angela and John:

"Thanks to Rubicon, I’ve overcome some serious obstacles. All the workshops – and all the coaches – challenged me and helped me grow, allowing me to use my community connections to get a good job." - Mario

"To look at where I am now is a delightful feeling. I was running from my credit for so long, but now I just want to see it grow." - Angela

"I had headaches and didn’t know why. Now, thanks to Rubicon, I know it's hypertension and I’m able to make it better. Rubicon connected me with everything I needed." - John

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Sometimes You Get What You Need: Drummond’s Story

By Jonathan Bash September 1, 2017

Sometimes, you endeavor to accomplish one small goal, and it snowballs into a life-changing event. As the Rolling Stones once said, “you can’t always get what you want, but sometimes you get what you need.” 

In Drummond’s case, he – a Rubicon participant from the first cohort under our new model – got both.  Just one year ago, someone told him that Rubicon could reinstate his suspended license, and help him get his life in order, find a job and build a career.

“But all I heard was that I could get my license. I needed my license back, so I went to Rubicon,” he says. “At first, I sat in the Foundations Workshop with my ears shut, just waiting for the coaches to show me how to fix my situation. But then something amazing happened. I truly listened for the first time in my life. The coaches got to me. And, man, talk about a transformation!”

Before Rubicon, Drummond didn’t really care about the world around him. “I had a lot of street in me, and a lot of the potholes that come with it. I always had to pull to the side to change tires.” One detour resulted in 5 years of incarceration. “It felt like I was roaming with hyenas.”

Things changed. “After a few days with Rubicon, I was striving to be on time every day. I was engaged, asking questions.” He says, “Rubicon’s coaches are like your ol’ grandma. She’ll give you all the love you could want, but if you don’t do what you’re supposed to do, she’s not going to defend you. You want your grandma to fight for you, so you do what you’re supposed to do.”

Soon enough, Rubicon brought him on to their team as an ambassador, a transitional employment position for people interested in bolstering their job skills and pursuing careers in social service. “I became Mr. Rubicon – the first point of contact for new participants.”

“That was the first time anybody trusted me with that sort of responsibility. That’s empowerment.” Drummond soon leveraged this new confidence – and job experience – to get a position as a counselor at a shelter for families experiencing homelessness. “I became a caregiver.”

Long term, he wants to continue to give back and care for those who need help. It’s something he learned from his coaches. “When I come through Rubicon’s doors, I get hugs. I get a family. I get encouragement. They do something for people. I want to do something. Paying taxes isn’t enough.”

Drummond is a man who is fueled by hope and, as a result, can’t help but glow with pride. He overflows with enthusiasm for life and for what he now knows is possible when people come together to support each other.

“Society can’t keep putting all of these band aids on all of these minor problems.” Drummond thinks there’s a better approach to solving poverty than what conventional wisdom has prescribed over the last fifty years.

“What you need is a big bandage to cover up the whole cut and lets it heal. Rubicon heals. It brings you back together. It breaks the cycle of poverty. I just don’t understand why Rubicon isn’t everywhere! What they do works.” 

Help us continue to break poverty by donating today.

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Rubicon Programs Partners with Travis Credit Union To Help Contra Costa ‘Crave 2 Save’

By Jonathan Bash August 15, 2017

47 Percent of All Americans Have Less Than $400 in Their Savings Account 

 

RICHMOND, CALIF., AUGUST 15, 2017 … In an effort to bring financial stability to Contra Costa County’s low-income residents, Rubicon Programs, a nonprofit fighting poverty in the East Bay, Sparkpoint Contra Costa and Travis Credit Union have partnered to launch their new “Crave 2 Save” challenge for Contra Costa County residents.

“At Rubicon, our job is to support our community in building financial, social and human capital,” said Jane Fischberg, President and CEO of Rubicon Programs. “You can’t break the cycle of poverty without saving for the unexpected. For many families, one car repair or dental emergency can be the difference between economic stability and debilitating debt.”

A savings account can save much more than money. 47 percent of all Americans have less than $400 in their savings account and are unprepared for life’s emergencies. Without a savings account, many people must turn to high-interest payday advance loans and credit cards for relief. The small debt eventually balloons to be unmanageable thanks to outrageous 450 percent APRs.

“Travis Credit Union exists to create value in the communities we serve and we believe a family’s ability to save for their future is the foundation of financial success,” said Barry Nelson, President and CEO of Travis Credit Union. “Through the Crave 2 Save program with partners like Rubicon we will break the cycle of poverty.”

So what’s the challenge? Eight nonprofits in four counties across the Bay Area will compete to enroll as many people into savings accounts as possible by December 31, 2017. The two nonprofits from the winning county will split a $75,000 prize that will fund each of the organization’s work to end the cycle of poverty.

To earn points for the two nonprofits, Crave 2 Save participants must open a free new Travis Credit Union savings account, mention the Crave2Save Challenge using the tracking code “CCC1,” meet savings targets that add up to $400, and attend a free financial education seminar. All participants will be entered to win a $100 giveaway at their local branch.

For more information on Crave 2 Save, visit www.traviscu.org/crave2save or call Rubicon Programs at 510-412-1725.

Rubicon Programs is a 501(c)3 nonprofit whose mission is to transform East Bay communities by equipping people to break the cycle of poverty. The organization serves the people of Contra Costa and Alameda counties, and provides services that help low-income individuals enter the workforce and develop fulfilling lives.

Travis Credit Union, headquartered in Vacaville, California, is a not-for-profit cooperative financial institution serving those who live or work in Alameda, Colusa, Contra Costa, Merced Napa, Placer, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, and Yolo Counties. Currently, Travis Credit Union is the 14th largest credit union in California with more than 189,000 members and more than $2.8 billion in assets. As one of the leading financial institutions in Solano, Contra Costa, Yolo and Merced Counties, Travis Credit Union’s strength lies in its faithful commitment to its members and the community; its solid, secure history; and its long-standing track record of dedicated service.  

CONTACT: Jonathan Bash  |  jonathanb@rubiconprograms.org |  (510) 231-3993  

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East Bay Times: Landmark settlement offers some relief from crushing traffic ticket fines

By Jonathan Bash August 14, 2017

By TAMMERLIN DRUMMOND | Bay Area News Group
August 14, 2017

Jesse Austin, a 39-year-old Antioch resident, owed more than $1,800 in unpaid tickets stemming from a traffic stop last September in Benicia. He couldn’t pay that high an amount on the $800 he earned every two weeks at a store that sold men’s grooming products. When he didn’t pay or show up in court, Solano County put a hold on his driver’s license. That in turn, he said, stopped him from getting a job as a delivery driver, better-paying work that he had done in the past.

“Not having a license has really hindered my earning ability,” said the father of six who works as a bicycle messenger in San Francisco. “You have to have one for a lot of jobs.”

Last week, Solano County Superior Court agreed to a first of its kind settlement in California that offers low-income people like Austin some relief from crushing traffic ticket debt and penalties that so often lead to a license suspension. The county now must notify drivers about alternatives to paying the full amount. Qualifying low-income residents are able to fill out a declaration of financial need and ask to pay in installments, seek a fine reduction or request community service. It’s also retroactive, which means drivers can petition the court for financial relief to get a license suspension lifted. The new policy applies to non-criminal violations.

“When you suspend a person’s license there is supposed to be a finding of willfulness,” said Sarah Williams, a staff attorney with Rubicon Programs, a Contra Costa County-based nonprofit that led a coalition of Bay Area legal aid organizations in filing a class action lawsuit last year.  “When someone doesn’t pay a ticket that doesn’t mean it’s willful if they can’t afford to pay it.”

Story continued at www.eastbaytimes.com.

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