Valley Strong pledges $1 million to CSUB for a research fellowship
Valley Strong Credit Union
April 24, 2021
Valley Strong Credit Union has pledged $1 million to California State University, Bakersfield to establish an endowment, which will create the Valley Strong Research Fellowship, a rotating fellowship for research projects related to the economic growth and prosperity of the Kern County region.
This three-year award was approved by the Valley Strong Board of Directors, based on the recommendation by Steve Renock, the credit union's President/Chief Executive Officer, who plans to retire this June. Renock, who has served in his position since 2009, has become a well respected member of the Roadrunner community.
"CSUB is a vital part of the community. The opportunity to get a good education means economic opportunities for everybody," said Renock.
"Valley Strong Credit Union's generous gift will unlock the ingenuity and imagination of our students and faculty to move our economy forward into new frontiers," said CSUB President, Dr. Lynnette Zelezny. "We are emerging from a time of isolation and uncertainty into an era of promise and hope. We will need new thinking and new ideas grounded in research for our region to align with economic opportunities to thrive. Valley Strong Credit Union gives us the power to actively apply economic research to grow prosperity in our community. Thank you for your belief in `Runner research and innovation!"
"For us at Valley Strong to be so closely tied with the university for this kind of project means a lot for both the things we support at the university and for the community," added Renock.
Community leaders and The Brookings Institute have joined together to develop the Better Bakersfield Boundless Kern (B3K) Initiative, which is a public-private regional collaboration that articulates a shared strategic vision and investment plan for economic growth and inclusion in Kern County. The Valley Strong Research Fellowship will directly support B3K progress.
Valley Strong has been a longtime supporter of CSUB and the company's philanthropy has touched every corner of the university – from Athletics facilities and student-athlete scholarships, to the Kegley Institute of Ethics and the Student Research Scholars Program.
"It's the combination of ethics and support for people locally – to help them. Their economic opportunities are really something that's close to the mission and values of our credit union," added Renock.
Valley Strong Credit Union operates 18 branches, serving more than 150,000 individuals, with approximately $2.4 billion in assets. It remains one of the largest financial institutions headquartered in the San Joaquin Valley.