Jobs for the ‘undeserving’

In the early 1980s, a wave of deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill swept the U.S., resulting in a sharp increase in the homeless population. These individuals were left to fend for themselves without the job skills they needed to secure independence. Moreover, because employers are often reluctant to hire employees with criminal backgrounds and little job experience, the homeless and other disadvantaged individuals including ex-offenders and the mentally ill continue to be isolated. For decades, Rick Aubry and his Rubicon Programs is trying to help the homeless and other marginalized groups permanently escape poverty through a model that combines service and care with job training and professional skills development.

He transformed a small-scale job-training program for the homeless into a collection of services from mental health counseling to adequate housing to help with bills. In so doing, he became the first person to integrate and streamline the previously disjointed programs offered by a tangled web of public and private service providers. In addition, to provide his clients with hands-on job training and a stable income, he went on to build a number of thriving businesses that now operate across the country. Through Rubicon Programs, Aubry has helped transform the lives of more than 40,000 people across the U.S. He is now developing an incubator for similar social business efforts around the country, and aims to create a powerful blueprint for a new kind of nationally scalable social business with the potential to dramatically deepen the impact of the citizen sector.

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