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Social Capitalists

Rubicon Programs Inc.

Richmond, California

President: Richard Aubry

Previous winner: 2004, 2005

What it does: Rubicon is a one-stop shop for those escaping poverty. It not only helps clients find homes and jobs but also offers career, mental heath, and family counseling, as well as technological training and money-management programs. A gourmet bakery (now selling nationally online and at Costco stores) and landscaping business both employ clients and help pay Rubicon's operating bills.

Results: In 2004, 500 Rubicon clients obtained housing and more than 460 found work. Revenues from the organization's for-profit enterprises now fund more than half of its $15.3 million annual budget.

Social impact: A-
Aspiration and growth: A-
Entrepreneurship: A
Innovation: B+
Sustainability: A

Winner's Statement

WHAT WE DO: Rubicon helps people get the jobs, housing and skills they need to lead independent lives. Since 1973, Rubicon has built and operated affordable housing and provided employment, job training, mental health, and other supportive services to individuals willing to do the work to move out of poverty, with a particular focus on the mentally disabled and homeless people.

Based in Richmond, California, the agency employs 250 people and offers services throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Rubicon has served over 35,000 men and women, built hundreds of homes, and created thousands of jobs. Rubicon operates two social enterprises, Rubicon Bakery and Rubicon Landscape, both creating jobs for our participants and dedicating 100% of the profits to support our nonprofit services.

A SUCCESS STORY: Weekdays, you'll find San Francisco's MUNI Operator of the Month Carmelita Goff happily ferrying people across San Francisco in her 60-foot double bus. Carmelita's also a trusted MUNI line trainer, as well as a mom with a daughter at home and a daughter at college. Life wasn't always this good. In October 2000, Carmelita was homeless and penniless. Her boyfriend had just left her, and she was living at a homeless shelter. While there, she heard about Rubicon.

We helped Carmelita find housing. She took our job skills classes, and we also taught her to budget wisely. Carmelita worked hard and never gave up - even when the going was the toughest. Her efforts have paid off beautifully. "All I needed was someone to point me in the right direction. I took care of myself," she says. "I refer a lot of people to Rubicon. But only if they're ready to take responsibility for their lives."

OUR PROGRAMS: People need a job, a decent place to live and support to succeed in transforming their lives. We believe people should walk in one door and get the support they need for all three. We tightly link our intake, mental health, housing, and employment services to provide a comprehensive approach to the multiple issues our clients have to overcome.

We operate housing sites with supportive services for low-income families, and those with special needs. Residents of Rubicon's supportive Housing Program participate in independent living and employment services throughout their tenancy. We run one stop job centers where folks get support and training to enter the workforce and where employers can meet with our participants to connect them with jobs. We provide mental health counseling, legal services, financial management assistance to make sure that the housing and job gains people secure are sustained.

OUR ENTERPRISES: RUBICON BAKERY: Rubicon Bakery produces an extensive variety of delicious cakes and tarts. Our high-quality and handcrafted products are baked from "scratch" recipes and use only the finest of ingredients including fresh-grated carrots, Maine blueberries, real butter and Dutch chocolate. We use absolutely no preservatives and our products include no transfats. Our bakery also serves as a unique training center, preparing people for employment with Rubicon or other employers. Job training, counseling, and peer support provided in a dedicated baking workshop, classroom with audio-visual capacities, and a job search center with computer terminals help participants develop their work and life skills.

You can buy Rubicon Bakery desserts online at

OUR ENTERPRISES: RUBICON LANDSCAPE SERVICES: Rubicon Landscape, one the Bay Areas premier landscape companies, provides premium care for properties in the commercial and public sectors. Large ongoing maintenance contracts and high quality construction installation work are the backbone and a workforce supported and trained by Rubicon's is the heart of our business. Rubicon is an environmentally responsible business and uses best practices to ensure a healthy environment.

Learn more at:

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The above Winner's Statement was provided by the profiled organization.