Crossing the Rubicon: Planning, Change & Results

 Rubicon Programs has been serving people who are homeless, unemployed, or who have mental illness for over 37 years. As it looks to the future, it is once again putting its reputation for innovation into action. We asked Jane Fischberg, President and Executive Director, more about their new direction.

 Saad & Shaw – What is happening at Rubicon?

 Jane Fischberg – We have been engaged in a change process. Late last year, we sold Rubicon Bakery.  The Bakery’s social purpose continues; all of the employees were retained, and, as the bakery grows, residual payments will come back to Rubicon.  Restructuring Rubicon Bakery helped us stay true to our mission, freeing up resources to support critical programs at a time when they’re most needed. We are looking at who we are and the programs we offer, and striving to be more targeted.  We went through an expedited strategic planning process in early 2010, facilitated by a top notch international consulting firm.

 Saad & Shaw – That sounds challenging and expensive.

 Jane – We were fortunate that one of our highly engaged funders helped us to access pro bono consulting services.

 Saad & Shaw – It is amazing what people and institutions will do when they believe in your work.

 Jane – We work hard to demonstrate that we are worthy of investment.  We are about changing lives.  We are a high-impact community services organization with a great board that has helped us to significantly increase our fundraising over the past two and a half years.  We offer workforce services, housing and case management, mental health care, and legal services, with services in Richmond, Berkeley, and Hayward.  We are proud of our successful commercial landscape business, Rubicon Landscape, servicing public and private accounts, providing training and employment opportunities to some of the people we serve.

 Saad & Shaw – That’s a lot of services and a lot of territory. It sounds as if you too have been crossing the Rubicon.

 Jane – Funny you should say that. For years people have not really known what the word Rubicon stands for.  It is a metaphor for a personal journey of change from which there is no turning back. We are dedicated to helping people on their journey towards recovery and towards economic self-sufficiency

 Saad & Shaw – What specific programs do you offer that help people beginning their journey of personal change?

 Jane –We help people enter the workforce with our career centers in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, partnering with different employers. One thing that is unique about us is the way our programs work together to help address the multiple challenges people face.

 Saad & Shaw – Can you give us an example?

Jane –Legal and Workforce Services (LaWS) is a good example.  Our legal services and workforce services provide participants access to legal assistance for specific, often common obstacles that keep people from getting hired. We coordinate our legal and vocational services and house them in the same location so we can best help people who often have the greatest challenges securing work.

To learn more about Rubicon Programs Inc. visit or call (510) 235-1516.

© Mel and Pearl Shaw 2010.


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