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Social Capitalists: Rubicon Programs Inc.

43 entrepreneurs who are changing the world
2007 Social Capitalist Winner

Rubicon Programs Inc.

Richmond, CA
Year founded: 1973
President: Rick Aubry

People walk through Rubicon's doors for many reasons. Maybe they need a job or a place to live. Maybe they are ready to do their part to end their homelessness, overcome an addiction or recover from a mental illness. Whatever the reason, they directly face some of society's toughest problems. Since 1973, over 40,000 people have met the challenge, and have won against all odds to become responsible and self-sufficient. At the same time, Rubicon has become a resourceful and self-sustaining organization, funding well over half of a $16 million dollar budget from revenues generated by its own successful enterprises. Rubicon teaches self-reliance and personal responsibility from the inside out, transforming lives by building profitable businesses and jobs through determined and skilled entrepreneurship. Rubicon cares as much about transforming lives as the bottom line, leading by example when teaching people how to become responsible, accountable, and successful.

Rubicon is entrepreneurial in its commitment to society -- we refuse to quit on our clients or ourselves. Rubicon is a catalyst for turnaround results, on a very human scale. Our businesses are run to succeed, and we reinvest our profits to build more business and more job skills. We're an organization that applies various business models to improve our bottom line and our community at the same time. Rubicon has been described as one of the best in the country -- we are a four-time winner of the "Social Capitalist Award" from Fast Company Magazine, and were featured as "Baking a Difference" on the Today Show in 2004. Rubicon was also named outstanding Social Entrepreneur by The Klaus Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship in 2002.

We're proud to have been recognized as a leader in social entrepreneurship. But what truly inspires us is the courage, determination and hard work of the thousands of men and women we've been privileged to support over the years. At Rubicon, wasted lives become productive lives, families break out of the cycle of poverty, and neglected neighborhoods begin to reverse their downward spiral. Rubicon creates sustainable and full membership in our society for a left-behind population, disenfranchised from living the American dream.

From our roots in a Richmond, California storefront, we have grown to help thousands of people create lasting change. Rubicon was established to help people with mental illness return to the community after state hospitals closed. It expanded to include support services for the low-income and homeless, and developed a "one stop" approach with supportive housing and businesses with a higher purpose. Over the last 30+ years, Rubicon has built and managed 180 affordable housing units and provided services that have enabled people to reach a level of self-sufficiency they only dreamed about.

Rubicon Landscape Services and Rubicon Bakery grew out of the imperative to create jobs and training for participants. Both have grown into multimillion-dollar enterprises and helped to inspire the people we serve with an entrepreneurial spirit and determination. In turn, it is the individuals we have helped who are fueling Rubicon to become more successful in the long term. It's a perfect full circle of learning, working, growing and high return, with all income reinvested back into our programs. Today, our enterprises employ 220 individuals, and contribute to over half of Rubicon's budget. It is our hope that all of Rubicon's programs will continue to move participants out of poverty and back into the community as full members with life supporting skills.

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