A Family Tradition, A Community Connection

By Darin Estep |

Craig Blunden grew up in a family that believed in community involvement.

His mother helped launch nonprofits in Riverside and, in 1956, his father started a savings and loan that would grow into Provident Bank. Fourteen years later, the UCR School of Business established the graduate program that would become the A. Gary Anderson Graduate School of Business. Among its first graduates in 1972: Craig Blunden.

The connection to the UCR School of Business was just beginning.

In 1985, following the family tradition of community involvement, Blunden was appointed to the UCR Foundation Board, were he gained an appreciation for the needs of the university.

“I really learned a lot in those 14 years that I was on that board,” said Blunden, who now is Provident’s CEO and chairman of the board. “I ended up starting a foundation here at the bank, the Provident Charitable Foundation, and using that to give to the community in a number of ways. One of the gifts was to the Graduate School of Management.”

That gift in 1994 established the Gordon A. Blunden/Provident Savings Bank Endowed Business Scholarship, named for his father to honor his community service. Although the elder Blunden passed away in 1996, the connection to UCR continued to grow.

Provident has sponsored the school’s Inland Empire Economic Forecast since its beginning more than a dozen years ago. Craig Blunden currently serves on the Dean’s Advisory Council and previously served as an Executive Fellow.

“Being a fellow was a wonderful experience. It was a chance for me to sit with the students, hold office hours, answer their questions and really continue my own learning,” he said.

Blunden is proud of UCR’s involvement in the community, and how it provides opportunities for students to make their own contributions.

“When I start to think about philanthropy, it really evolves as a process as you grow up,” he said. “It just makes you feel great when you see people being successful and able to help others in the community.”