Rubicon’s commitment to racial justice

By Lisa Dyas October 18, 2018

In 2015, Rubicon conducted its first org-wide cultural assessment. We knew that achieving our vision of an East Bay without poverty would take not only outstanding services for our program participants, but also carefully building a Rubicon culture and infrastructure that would empower every single employee to bring all of their talents to the table. 

The survey results were promising - our staff felt highly engaged to their work and to each other. What an overwhelming percentage of respondents wanted to better understand, however, was Rubicon's commitment to dismantling racism and systemic inequity in our communities.

To define our stance, a diverse group of Rubiconians came together over a period of six months to examine the history and legacy of racism in our country and communities. They looked at the ways systemic injustice has, and continues to, impede our progress toward achieving our mission. The Antiracism Stance grew out of their learnings, hope for the future, and Rubicon's unequivocal commitment to doing the hard work of calling-out racism where we see it - starting first with our own practices and workplace culture. 


Rubicon’s Antiracism Stance

Rubicon unequivocally opposes racism. We are resolved to explicitly and publicly affirm our identity as an anti-racism organization. We will understand and eradicate racism’s impact within our organization. We will ensure that prejudices and stereotypes do not creep insidiously into the work we do and how we do it.


We recognize that when we are not actively dismantling systemic racism, we are passively upholding systemic racism. Rubicon refuses to uphold a racist system which opposes our values of Hope, Justice, and Humility, and devalues life. We know that dismantling racism, in our lives, our organization, our field and our community, is a prerequisite to achieving our mission and upholding our values. We will lead or join the work to breathe life into a new system of equity.


We exist in a culture of white supremacy. A culture that requires people of color to explain themselves, to prove systemic racism’s existence, to demonstrate the gravity of its effects, and to justify the necessity of dismantling it. A culture that wields these tools solely to retain power and to divide and destroy. However, we are too strong and determined to allow people to be belittled, questioned, and silenced. We will not wield these tools any longer. We are crafting our own tools. We commit to uprooting the damage done by the culture of white supremacy and systemic racism while cultivating a more just society.

  • To cross the Rubicon is to commit to an irrevocable act. To that end, we commit to:
  • Examine and recalibrate inequitable power relationships and resource allocations throughout the organization
  • Foster full participation by people of color in decisions that shape Rubicon
  • Value the contributions and interests of employees of color in shaping our culture, and determining our policies and practices
  • Acknowledge in our work with participants that poverty is a result of oppressive systems
  • Engage each other through a daily ritual of mutual respect
  • Truly value racial diversity as an asset instead of simply tolerating or managing it
  • Confront and dismantle racism within the organization and the broader community
  • Earn community legitimacy as an antiracist organization
  •  Partner with others in combating all forms of racism

The work for justice and equity is informed by the backs of those who withstood lashes and beatings, endured genocide, internment camps, exploitation, and police brutality. We follow in the footsteps of those who bravely spoke out and demanded justice despite great risk. We expect discomfort and pain; no transformative change happens without it. However, we will not use that as an excuse to avoid this work; we will sit with pain and discomfort until equity is realized. When challenged, we will respond with love, passion, curiosity, tenacity, and a desire for shared growth, until we crumble the very foundation of systemic racism.


We will not always get it right, but we will always strive for what is right. We ask every person who reads this statement to help transform Rubicon and the communities we serve into places where we connect with Humility, act with Hope, and live with Justice.

***
Racism is the systematic oppression of people of color; occurs at the individual/internalized, interpersonal, institutional, and cultural levels; may be overt or covert, intentional or unintentional.


White supremacy is a historically based, institutionally perpetuated system of exploitation and oppression of continents, nations and peoples of color by white peoples and nations of the European continent; for the purpose of maintaining and defending a system of wealth, power and privilege.

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Rubicon’s Associate Board

By Jonathan Bash September 6, 2018

 

The Associate Board raises awareness and resources to help meet the needs, address the challenges, and uncover the untapped potential of our neighbors living in poverty.

We're currently recruiting new members. Join us to meet other emerging leaders with a commitment to equity for our East Bay communities. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.

More Information: Brochure

Additional Details: Job Description

Apply for the Associate Board: Application

Questions? Contact Alex Pfeifer-Rosenblum, Development Manager

 

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The Rubicon Rangers: The Final Report

By Sandy Chung August 27, 2018

The "Rubicon Rangers" series is a first-person account of Rubicon's intern experience, authored by the interns, Jessica, Sandy and Justin, themselves.

The Clothing Closet Update

Having spent the summer in Rubicon’ old file cabinet room, the interns were able to transform the disorganized room into a welcoming boutique-style closet for the organization’s participants, where they can to choose a fresh, professional outfit that puts them on the path to success.

Now, with four wall racks packed with professional suits, the closet finally looks complete. The middle of the room is loaded with dress shirts ranging from different colors and sizes.

Since the interns’ project began, the clothing closet have gone a long way. Each and every men’s dress shirt has been checked for damage, and steamed to ensure a wrinkle-free look. All of the clothing is sorted by size and hung neatly on racks. On the tie racks, a variety of ties are provided to accompany each of the dress shirts with different, but complementary, patterns and prints. Professional dress shows are also displayed on the shoe rack by size.

As for women’s wear, the team sized various pants, dresses and blouses and arranged them onto the rack. Women’s shoes include flats and heels in every size. Thanks to a large shoe donation that arrived.

Accompanying the closet is a private fitting room that includes a three-pronged mirror, so the participants can view their newly picked outfits from every angle. The room also features a Persian rug and bench to make it feel more like a store fitting room or their own home, helping participants to feel comfortable and confident before their job interviews.

Our entire team is incredibly grateful for this opportunity to help break down poverty here at Rubicon. Our team has learned so much at Wardrobe for Opportunity, taking the skills we learned there and applying them to our own closet.

Community at Rubicon

At Rubicon, you can truly sense the scale of love and support for each of the various communities across the East Bay. In this organization, discrimination does not exist, conversation and cultural exchange is encouraged to overcome the difficulties that people of color and other identities experience. Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) like the Black Rubies and an LGBTQ group give employees a safe space to tackle thorny issues and improve their community.

Rubicon employees have a strong bond and frequently work with employees outside their department and in offices throughout the East Bay. Employees build strong regional bonds that last a lifetime.

As an intern, this welcoming community here was apparent on day one. With our final days at Rubicon coming to an end, we’re coming to terms with the bittersweet fact that we’re going to have to leave this supportive environment, where care is showered upon participants and coworkers alike.

This same love and understanding nature is shown to the participants throughout their time at Rubicon, from the workshops to the electives and one-on-one coaching sessions. Impact coaches and facilitators constantly encourage and inspire participants to land on their feet and make the best decisions that will help improve their wellness, assets, income and connections.

Goodbye, Rubicon!

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The Rubicon Rangers: Tongo Eisen-Martin Fights Oppression and Poverty with the Power of Words

By Ben Rowley August 20, 2018

Source: City Lights Publishers. Image used for editorial purposes only.

The "Rubicon Rangers" series is a first-person account of Rubicon's intern experience, authored by the interns, Jessica, Sandy and Justin, themselves.

A city is a prison, a cigarette is a symbol. Welcome to the unique work of master-poet Tongo Eisen-Martin: a world of imaginative metaphors mixed with cold, hard truth.

A Bay Area native, Tongo Eisen-Martin is an educator, movement worker, and of course, poet. His book, “Heaven is all Goodbyes,” won the 2018 California Book Award for Poetry, and is riddled with hidden stories and imaginative voices, that guide readers and submerge them into his world.

Not only does he write poetry, but he also educates prisoners and takes part in many public literary events. His work often reminds people that there are many issues that might not affect them, but a large proportion of the population have to deal with on a daily basis.

In his books, he doesn’t only describe the way he sees the hidden racial issues and poverty of America through his eyes, but also the way he feels them, experiences them, and the how they affect him and everyone around him. The issues that significantly influence his work the most include poverty, racism, and extrajudicial killings by police. He highlights the burden that comes with being black in America, as well as the struggles of those in poverty.

Often delivering his precise messages through many layers of metaphor, he takes the "ethos approach" of changing people’s minds about the issues that impact Black men. Eisen-Martin speaks from experience and the understanding of someone who has been directly affected by these problems in our communities.

Tongo’s distinct free verse and seemingly all-over-the-place style is easy to read on first glance, but when looked at longer, each poems reveal more and more of what is really being said. The poetry is often written in an original way, where some pages might take three seconds to read. Some sentences take three minutes.

Along with being fun to read, Eisen-Martin’s work also does an excellent job of serving to inform people about racial and poverty issues, inspiring people to fix them, which is what everyone at Rubicon Programs is all about.

As racism and poverty are slowly withered away, we here at Rubicon are happy to be allies with Tongo and his incredibly creative, and idiosyncratic, campaign against racism, hate and poverty. It is because of people like him and our devoted staff here at Rubicon that our country is, hopefully, going to move in the right direction.

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Rubicon, 9 Local Organizations Join Forces to End Unemployment in Contra Costa County

By Jonathan Bash August 14, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New Countywide Collaborative Will Expand Access and Quality of Resources for Those in Need of a Job or Career Change

MARTINEZ, CALIF., AUGUST 14, 2018 … Even though the Bay Area job market may feel red-hot, nearly 20,000 Contra Costa residents remain unemployed and are looking for work. To help these individuals find a job or start a new career, ten organizations have partnered with Contra Costa County and its Workforce Development Board (WDBCCC) to create an unprecedented network of service providers.

“The Contra Costa Workforce Collaborative is the first effort of its kind in California,” said Bhupen Amin, Chair of the Workforce Development Board of Contra Costa County. “We’re pooling all of our resources so that unemployed Contra Costans can quickly find a good job or start a new career. Now, it will be easier than ever to access the technical resources, coaching and training necessary to thrive in this evolving job market.”

The effort, called the Contra Costa Workforce Collaborative (CCWC), will help reduce the unemployment rate and put people on a path to prosperity by bringing disparate services together and locating job search resources closer to those who need them.

The CCWC will be coordinated by Rubicon Programs, a nonprofit that works to end poverty in the East Bay, as well as the following CBOs and educational institutions:

These local organizations came together because they have a shared mission, a strong track record of collaborative work, and a desire to provide high impact services to underserved populations.  Each brings a long history of providing high-quality employment and training services, strong connections to the county’s industry sectors and a deep understanding of the unique employer and job-seeker needs in each region of the county.

“Before this collaborative, individuals looking for a job would often have to travel across the county to access services,” says Jane Fischberg, President and CEO of Rubicon Programs, the CCWC’s lead agency. “Now, each of our organizations will offer these resources on-site and within the community, leveraging each of our strengths to bring more to the table.”

The CCWC will offer intensive support services at an America's Job Center of California (AJCC) in Concord that will be managed by Rubicon Programs, while each of the other nine organizations will offer satellite services and specialized resources in offices located from San Pablo to Brentwood. Participants will be able to access one-on-one counseling, computers and printers, job boards and workshops that will give them a boost in their job search.

“We’re excited to be part of this incredible effort to expand access to these lifeline services,” said Vittoria Abbate, Director of College & Career and Adult Education at Mt. Diablo Unified School District, a founding member of the new collaborative. “We believe that we can accomplish more together and that we’ll be able to make it easier for vulnerable families to get back on their feet, avoiding a fall into long-term, intergenerational poverty.”

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors officially approved funding for this new project on August 14, 2018. Each of the ten members of the Contra Costa Workforce Collaborative now offer their new services to unemployed Contra Costa County residents.

# # #

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.

CONTACT: Jonathan Bash  |  jonathanb@rubiconprograms.org  |  (925) 335-6784

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