How We Work
Rubicon works with participants to build financial literacy by increasing their knowledge of asset development, consumer protection, credit repair, and household budgeting. In their first meeting with clients, Financial Coaches conduct a financial assessment to establish a baseline for services. The assessment includes running a credit report, creating a balance sheet, developing a budget, and identifying financial goals. This process helps clients to develop realistic plans for debt repayment and savings, and connects them with mainstream banks to establish checking and savings accounts so that participants do not fall prey to predatory lenders and check-cashing fees. Financial Coaches also screen for public benefits and support participants with the application and recertification processes. Many participants receive assistance preparing and filing their tax returns, ensuring they receive all the benefits for which they qualify.
We are piloting a Lending Circle program through our partnership with Mission Asset Fund (MAF). Lending Circles provide small, zero-interest loans to borrowers who have pooled their funds by making consistent monthly payment, helping participants to rebuild damaged credit scores, or establish credit for the very first time. This program represents the first time a Lending Circle has been piloted with a primarily prisoner reentry population.
Our approach to income is two-fold. First we help people find immediate employment to meet their needs for day-to-day living. For those with limited work experience, we offer transitional employment opportunities, on-the-job training, volunteer work, and internships with employer partners to help them bolster their resumes. Our team continues to work with participants even after they secure a job, to sustain employment over the long term, to navigate problems in the workplace and to professionally advocate for advancement.
Each participant also works with a Career Advisor who provides counseling around long-term goals within their chosen career pathway: Education, Vocational Training, or Entrepreneurship. Depending on their unique plan, participants may be referred to partner organizations such as: Literacy for Every Adult Program (LEAP), Liberty Adult Education, or a community college for education; the Stride Center, Opportunity Junction, Bread Project, a community college, or other appropriate hard skills trainer for Vocational Training; Renaissance Entrepreneurship, or a Small Business Development Center for Entrepreneurship. This new approach focuses on long-term skill and career development, rather than solely job placement and retention.
Finding and keeping a job is difficult when you do not have the resources to manage your health. Mild to moderate mental illness, addiction, and a history of mistrust of health care providers are frequent barriers among people we serve. We provide wellness education workshops, help participants access health insurance and learn how to use their benefits, and behavioral health services such as smoking cessation. Wellness clinicians also offer short-term individual therapy sessions, substance abuse intervention, and facilitate connections to treatment providers for longer term care as needed.
Moving people and communities towards economic mobility is not an individual effort. People depend on social connections not only to secure employment, but also to weather life’s inevitable ups and downs. Restorative Circles are a key component of social connections at Rubicon. Each circle is made up of a cohort of participants who meet regularly to not only build a peer network, but to enable them to reflect on their place in, and impact on, the community. Participants are connected with existing community service opportunities and civic activities (such as community conversations, town hall meetings, advisory boards).
In 2017, we will also launch a leadership development pipeline to train participants interested in contributing to Rubicon’s programming decisions. Social Connections is our method for positively impacting the community beyond those whom we serve directly.