Longtime San Bernardino business leaders and philanthropists Chuck and Shelby Obershaw have given $1 million to California State University, San Bernardino in support of students in need, as well as to assure the economic future of the community.
“Chuck and Shelby are two extraordinary people, from their visionary business leadership to their philanthropy and generosity,” said university President Tomás D. Morales. “This gift will make a remarkable difference in the lives of students across campus and help us propel the economic growth of San Bernardino.”
The endowed funds will create the Charles and Shelby Obershaw Endowment for Student Success, a fund that will support the social and academic success of students in CSUSB’s Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) Renaissance Scholar program, the DEN Food Pantry in the Office of Community Engagement, and the Entrepreneurship program in the Jack H. Brown College of Business and Public Administration.
The couple shared in a joint statement that “our goal in giving this gift to CSUSB is to directly support students through the Den and Renaissance Scholars programs. The young men and women in these programs have been dealt unimaginable challenges, yet they continue to persevere in their educational goals. Our previous commitment to CSUSB was for scholarships. This commitment is not only for scholarships but to help keep students in school, especially foster youth, many of whom lose their support system at age 18. They may need help to pay for housing, food and clothing, as well as for books and supplies. We are proud to help students achieve their goals through education. We believe that education can impact and change lives for generations to come.”
CSUSB’s Renaissance Scholars addresses a compelling need to support the region’s emancipated foster youth. The program serves current and former foster youth between the ages of 17-25 who are pursuing a college degree, providing wraparound services including scholarships, life skills, workshops, outreach, stability and assistance meeting basic needs. The CSUSB EOP Renaissance Scholars graduation rate as of fall 2015 is at 51 percent, dramatically higher than the national foster student average of only 3 percent.
The DEN Food Pantry is addressing one of higher education’s most pressing issues, hunger and homelessness. The university has launched an innovative campus food bank where hungry students can come by and get something to eat before or after classes. More than 1,000 students were supported in its first full year, with donations coming primarily from faculty and staff, as well as community friends. In addition, the program directly assists students who had emergency housing needs.
Funds will also be directed to the nationally recognized Inland Empire Center for Entrepreneurship (IECE) in the Jack H. Brown College of Business and Public Administration. Scholarships will support students in the community, provide them with important professional knowledge and connections, and significantly increase the odds that their startup enterprises will take hold in San Bernardino, spread roots and have a sustainable impact through innovation, job creation and community reinvestment.
“We are also very pleased to be able to support the Inland Center for Entrepreneurship in the Brown College,” Chuck Obershaw said. “I was an entrepreneur developing my own company, Chuck Obershaw Toyota. I wish to support students whose creativity and desire to create business and jobs in San Bernardino will lead to the next generation of business leaders.”
Drs. Charles “Chuck” and Shelby Obershaw (Honorary Doctorates, Class of 2006) have distinguished themselves among the leading business and philanthropic leaders in the San Bernardino area. Their success in business, including the creation of a successful automobile dealership in San Bernardino, Chuck Obershaw Toyota. His commitment to the community is reflective in his roots, having graduated from San Bernardino Valley College and San Bernardino High School.
As a community leader, Chuck served as president of the San Bernardino Motor Car Dealers’ Association, president of the San Bernardino Area Chamber of Commerce, and president of the U.S. Air Force Association. Other board roles included support of the National Orange Show, the Community Hospital of San Bernardino, the local YMCA and the CSUSB Philanthropic Foundation Board.
Perhaps most importantly, Chuck Obershaw is also a distinguished veteran of World War II, serving with the 187th Paraglider Infantry in the Pacific and receiving the Patrick Henry Medallion for Patriotic Contributions.
A scholarship recipient herself, Shelby Obershaw followed a path similar to many CSUSB alumni. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and taught junior high school for more than 20 years in San Bernardino. Her community impact is equally distinct, having served for 12 years on the City of San Bernardino Unified School District board while also co-chairing the successful 1999 bond measure that resulted in $50 million for San Bernardino’s public schools. She was a founding member of the city library’s Foundation Board, San Bernardino Symphony board, the Assistance League as well as volunteering at the San Bernardino County School for Homeless Children.
The Obershaws giving has impacted CSUSB since 1990. Their endowed scholarship programs have touched 161 students to date, with 87 percent earning at least one degree in the areas of business, athletics and education.
In September 2016, CSUSB announced the launch the public phase of a five-year $50 million comprehensive campaign. To date, the university has raised over $32 million towards that goal.
California State University, San Bernardino is a preeminent center of intellectual and cultural activity in Inland Southern California. Opened in 1965 and set at the foothills of the beautiful San Bernardino Mountains, the university serves more than 20,000 students each year and graduates about 4,000 students annually.
CSUSB reflects the dynamic diversity of the region and has the most diverse student population of any university in the Inland Empire, and it has the second highest African American and Hispanic enrollments of all public universities in California. Seventy percent of those who graduate are the first in their families to do so.