BioMarin Receives Standard Approval for Palynziq™ (pegvaliase-pqpz) Injection for Treatment of Adults with Phenylketonuria (PKU), a Rare Genetic Disease

BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. (Nasdaq:BMRN) today announced that BioMarin received standard approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Palynziq™ (pegvaliase-pqpz) Injection to reduce blood phenylalanine (Phe) concentrations in adult patients with phenylketonuria (PKU), who have uncontrolled blood Phe concentrations greater than 600 micromol/L on existing management. Palynziq, a PEGylated recombinant phenylalanine ammonia lyase enzyme, is the first approved enzyme substitution therapy to target the underlying cause of PKU by helping the body to break down Phe.  Palynziq is BioMarin’s second approved treatment for this important condition.


PKU is a rare genetic disease that manifests at birth and results in a variety of cumulative toxic effects on the brain. PKU affects approximately 1 in 12,500 live births in the United States each year. PKU is marked by an inability to break down Phe, an amino acid that is found in all forms of protein. Left untreated, high levels of Phe become toxic to the brain and may lead to serious neurological and neuropsychiatric-related issues, impacting the way a person thinks, feels, and acts. Due to the seriousness of these symptoms, infants are screened at birth to ensure that they are diagnosed early and treated to avoid intellectual disability and other complications. Patients living with PKU require life-long management, including adherence to a challenging and severely restrictive daily diet of medical foods and formula that avoids the ingestion of Phe that is present in most foods.

The approval of Palynziq in the United States marks an important milestone for adults living with PKU who will now have access to an effective new treatment option for controlling their blood Phe.

The approval of Palynziq comes during National PKU Awareness Month. During National PKU Awareness Month, local patient organizations are encouraged to organize events to spread PKU awareness and raise funds for academic research.

“BioMarin is thrilled to be able to offer this important new therapy to adults with PKU who are unable to control their Phe levels with existing options. The approval of Palynziq is the culmination of more than a decade of perseverance by BioMarin employees dedicated to bringing treatments to PKU adult patients,” said Jean-Jacques Bienaimé, chairman and chief executive officer of BioMarin.  “We are proud of this medical achievement and appreciate the FDA’s thoughtful review of our application.  We also are grateful to the PKU patients and medical communities for their continued partnership and participation in the clinical program that led to the approval of this effective therapy.”

“The goal in treating PKU is to keep blood Phe levels within the range set in the medical guidelines, as elevation of Phe can be toxic and damaging to the brain. Palynziq provides another much needed tool for us to help adult patients control their Phe levels, which previously had not been achievable for many adults living with the condition,” said Cary Harding, M.D., professor at Oregon Health & Science University and investigator for the Phase 3 studies.

“Palynziq has the potential to be a game-changing therapy for adults in the PKU community who have struggled throughout their lives to control their Phe levels, despite rigorous management,” said Christine Brown, MS, executive director of the National PKU Alliance. “BioMarin has provided unwavering support for the PKU community and continues innovative medical research to advance treatment options for this rare genetic disease.”

Palynziq is expected to be available in the United States by the end of June, and BioMarin will begin the promotion of Palynziq immediately. Palynziq is available only through a restricted program under a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) called the Palynziq REMS.

BioMarin is also committed to bringing Palynziq to adult PKU patients outside of the United States.  In March 2018, the European Medicines Agency accepted BioMarin’s submission of a Marketing Authorization Application for Palynziq.

Clinical Trial Results

Palynziq significantly and substantially reduced blood Phe levels as demonstrated in the pivotal Phase 3 PRISM-2 study, which met the primary endpoint of change in blood Phe compared with placebo (p<0.0001).  During the PRISM-2 double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized withdrawal period trial (RWP), participants were randomized in a 2:1 ratio to either continue their maintenance Palynziq dosage (20 mg once daily or 40 mg once daily) or to receive matching placebo for a total of 8 weeks.  Palynziq-treated patients maintained their blood Phe concentrations as compared to their randomized withdrawal baseline, whereas patients randomized to matching placebo returned to their pretreatment baseline blood Phe concentrations.

In the Phase 3 program, 57% of patients were taking medical food at baseline and 16% were on a protein-restricted diet at baseline (defined as receiving greater than 75% of total protein intake from medical food).

About Phenylketonuria

PKU, or PAH deficiency, is a genetic disorder affecting approximately 50,000 diagnosed patients in the regions of the world where BioMarin operates and is caused by a deficiency of the enzyme PAH.  This enzyme is required for the metabolism of Phe, an essential amino acid found in most protein-containing foods. If the active enzyme is not present in sufficient quantities, Phe accumulates to abnormally high levels in the blood and becomes toxic to the brain, resulting in a variety of complications including severe intellectual disability, seizures, tremors, behavioral problems and psychiatric symptoms. As a result of newborn screening efforts implemented in the 1960s and early 1970s, virtually all individuals with PKU under the age of 40 in countries with newborn screening programs are diagnosed at birth and treatment is implemented soon after. PKU can be managed with a Phe-restricted diet, which is supplemented by low-protein modified foods and Phe-free medical foods; however, the strict diet is difficult for most adult patients to adhere to to the extent needed for achieving adequate control of blood Phe levels.

To learn more about PKU and PAH deficiency, please visit Information on this website is not incorporated by reference into this press release.

About ACMG Guidelines

Practice guidelines issued by the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG) support the need for lifelong management of Phe levels in patients with phenylketonuria or PKU.  The new diagnosis and management guidelines were published online in Genetics In Medicine’s Advance Online Publication (AOP) service.

The guidelines state that treatment of PKU should be initiated as early as possible and must be continued throughout adulthood and “lifelong,” with a goal of maintaining blood levels of Phe for all patients between 120 to 360 micromol/L. Patients treated from the early weeks of life with initial good metabolic control, but who lose that control in later childhood or adult life, may experience both reversible and irreversible neurocognitive and neuropsychiatric consequences.

According to the guidelines “the primary goal of therapy is to lower blood Phe, and any interventions, including medications, or combination of therapies that help to achieve that goal in an individual, without other negative consequences, should be considered appropriate therapy.” Evidence for the guidelines are drawn from two previous independent review processes from the National Institutes of Health (2001) and the Agency for Health Research and Quality (2012). The guidelines can be accessed here.

Conference Call and Webcast to be Held May 24 at 6 PM Eastern

Interested parties may access a live webcast that will accompany the conference call by going here.  A replay of the call will be archived on the site for one week following the call.

U.S. / Canada Dial-in Number: (866) 502-9859
International Dial-in Number: (574) 990-1362
Conference ID: 4298742

Replay Dial-in Number: (855) 859-2056
Replay International Dial-in Number: (404) 537-3406
Conference ID: 4298742

About Palynziq

Palynziq substitutes the deficient phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH) enzyme in PKU with the PEGylated version of the enzyme phenylalanine ammonia lyase to break down Phe. Palynziq is administered using a dosing regimen designed to facilitate tolerability; Palynziq’s safety profile consists primarily of immune-mediated responses, including anaphylaxis, for which robust risk management measures effective in clinical trials are in place.

The dosing and administration of Palynziq follows an induction, titration, and maintenance paradigm.  Treatment is individualized to the lowest effective and tolerated dosage.  Prescribers may consider increasing to a maximum of 40 mg once daily in patients who have not achieved a response with 20 mg once daily for at least 24 weeks.  Prescribers are instructed to discontinue treatment in patients who have not responded after 16 weeks of continuous treatment with the maximum dosage of 40 mg once daily.  Periodic blood Phe monitoring is recommended, and patients should be counseled on how to adjust their dietary intake, as needed, based on blood Phe concentrations.

To reach a BioMarin RareConnections® case manager, please call, toll-free, 1-866-906-6100 or e-mail For more information about Palynziq, please visit  For additional information regarding this product, please contact BioMarin Medical Information at


PALYNZIQ™ (pegvaliase-pqpz) Injection is a phenylalanine-metabolizing enzyme indicated to reduce blood phenylalanine concentrations in adult patients with phenylketonuria (PKU) who have uncontrolled blood phenylalanine concentrations greater than 600 µmol/L on existing management.

Important Safety Information


  • Anaphylaxis has been reported after administration of PALYNZIQ and may occur at any time during treatment with PALYNZIQ.
  • Administer the initial dose of PALYNZIQ under the supervision of a healthcare provider equipped to manage anaphylaxis, and closely observe patients for at least 60 minutes following injection. Prior to self-injection, confirm patient competency with self-administration, and patient’s and observer’s (if applicable) ability to recognize signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis and to administer auto-injectable epinephrine, if needed.
  • Prescribe auto-injectable epinephrine to all patients treated with PALYNZIQ. Prior to the first dose, instruct the patient and observer (if applicable) on its appropriate use. Instruct the patient to seek immediate medical care upon its use. Instruct patients to carry auto-injectable epinephrine with them at all times during treatment with PALYNZIQ.
  • PALYNZIQ is available only through a restricted program under a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) called the PALYNZIQ REMS. Further information, including a list of qualified pharmacies, is available at (site will be live within 24 hours) or by telephone 1-855-758-REMS (1-855-758-7367).



  • Signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis reported include syncope, hypotension, hypoxia, dyspnea, wheezing, chest discomfort/chest tightness, tachycardia, angioedema (swelling of face, lips, eyes, tongue), throat tightness, skin flushing, rash, urticaria, pruritus, and gastrointestinal symptoms (vomiting, nausea, diarrhea).
  • Anaphylaxis generally occurred within 1 hour after injection; however, delayed episodes occurred up to 48 hours after PALYNZIQ administration.
  • Consider having an adult observer for patients who may need assistance in recognizing and managing anaphylaxis during treatment with PALYNZIQ. If an adult observer is needed, the observer should be present during and for at least 60 minutes after administration of PALYNZIQ, and should be able to administer auto-injectable epinephrine and call for emergency medical support upon its use.
  • Anaphylaxis requires immediate treatment with auto-injectable epinephrine. Prescribe auto-injectable epinephrine to all patients receiving PALYNZIQ and instruct patients to carry auto-injectable epinephrine with them at all times during treatment with PALYNZIQ. Prior to the first dose, instruct the patient and observer (if applicable) on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis, on how to properly administer auto-injectable epinephrine, and to seek immediate medical care upon its use. Consider the risks associated with auto-injectable epinephrine use when prescribing Palynziq. Refer to the auto‑injectable epinephrine prescribing information for complete information.
  • Consider the risks and benefits of readministering PALYNZIQ following an episode of anaphylaxis. If the decision is made to readminister PALYNZIQ, administer the first dose under the supervision of a healthcare provider equipped to manage anaphylaxis and closely observe the patient for at least 60 minutes following the dose. Subsequent dose titration of PALYNZIQ should be based on patient tolerability and therapeutic response.
  • Consider premedication with an H1-receptor antagonist, H2-receptor antagonist, and/or antipyretic prior to administration of PALYNZIQ based upon individual patient tolerability.

Other hypersensitivity reactions

  • Hypersensitivity reactions other than anaphylaxis have been reported in 196 of 285 (69%) patients treated with PALYNZIQ.
  • Consider premedication with an H1-receptor antagonist, and/or antipyretic prior to PALYNZIQ administration based upon individual patient tolerability.
  • Management of hypersensitivity reactions should be based on the severity of the reaction, recurrence of the reaction, and the clinical judgment of the healthcare provider, and may include dosage adjustment, temporary drug interruption, drug discontinuation, or treatment with antihistamines, antipyretics, and/or corticosteroids.


  • The most common adverse reactions (at least 20% of patients in either treatment phase) were injection site reactions, arthralgia, hypersensitivity reactions, headache, generalized skin reaction lasting at least 14 days, pruritus, nausea, abdominal pain, oropharyngeal pain, vomiting, cough, diarrhea, and fatigue.
  • Of the 285 patients exposed to PALYNZIQ in an induction/titration/maintenance regimen in clinical trials, 31 (11%) patients discontinued treatment due to adverse reactions. The most common adverse reactions leading to treatment discontinuation were hypersensitivity reactions (6% of patients)—including anaphylaxis (3% of patients) and angioedema (1% of patients)—arthralgia (4% of patients), generalized skin reactions lasting at least 14 days (2% of patients), and injection site reactions (1% of patients).
  • The most common adverse reactions leading to dosage reduction were arthralgia (14% of patients), hypersensitivity reactions (9% of patients), injection site reactions (4% of patients), alopecia (3% of patients), and generalized skin reactions lasting at least 14 days (2% of patients).
  • The most common adverse reactions leading to temporary drug interruption were arthralgia (13% of patients), hypersensitivity reactions (13% of patients), anaphylaxis (4% of patients), and injection site reactions (4% of patients).

Blood Phenylalanine Monitoring and Diet

  • Obtain blood phenylalanine concentrations every 4 weeks until a maintenance dosage is established.
  • After a maintenance dosage is established, periodically monitor blood phenylalanine concentrations.
  • Counsel patients to monitor dietary protein and phenylalanine intake, and adjust as directed by their healthcare provider.


Effect of PALYNZIQ on other PEGylated products

  • In a single dose study of PALYNZIQ in adult patients with PKU, 2 patients receiving concomitant injections of medroxyprogesterone acetate suspension (a formulation containing PEG 3350) experienced hypersensitivity reactions, and 1 of the 2 patients also experienced anaphylaxis.
  • The clinical effects of concomitant treatment with different PEGylated products is unknown. Monitor patients treated with PALYNZIQ and concomitantly with other PEGylated products for hypersensitivity reactions.


Pregnancy and Lactation

  • PALYNZIQ may cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman.
  • If PALYNZIQ is administered during pregnancy, or if a patient becomes pregnant while receiving PALYNZIQ or within 1 month following the last dose of PALYNZIQ, healthcare providers should report PALYNZIQ exposure by calling 1-866-906-6100.
  • Monitor blood phenylalanine concentrations in breastfeeding women treated with PALYNZIQ.

Pediatric use

  • The safety and efficacy of PALYNZIQ in pediatric patients have not been established.

Geriatric Use

  • Clinical studies of PALYNZIQ did not include patients aged 65 years and older.

You are encouraged to report side effects to report suspected adverse events to BioMarin at 1-877-695-8826 and the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or

Please see full Prescribing Information, including Boxed Warning, at, which will be available in 24 hours.

About BioMarin

BioMarin is a global biotechnology company that develops and commercializes innovative therapies for people with serious and life-threatening rare disorders. The company’s portfolio consists of seven commercialized products and multiple clinical and pre-clinical product candidates.

For additional information, please visit Information on BioMarin’s website is not incorporated by reference into this press release.

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements about the business prospects of BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc. (BioMarin),  including, without limitation, statements about: expectations regarding the potential impact of this therapy in the PKU community; the expectations about the availability of Palynziq in the United States by the end of June; BioMarin’s ability to support the launch of a new product and ship to specialty pharmacies; BioMarin’s development programs for Palynziq generally; and the potential approval of Palyniziq in jurisdictions outside of the U.S., including the EU. These forward-looking statements are predictions and involve risks and uncertainties such that actual results may differ materially from these statements. These risks and uncertainties include, among others: actions by regulatory agencies other than the FDA, results and timing of current and planned clinical trials of BioMarin’s products, the risks related to the commercialization of Palynziq, our ability to manufacture sufficient quantities of Palynziq for clinical trials and the commercial launch of Palynziq in the U.S., the market potential for Palynziq as a treatment for PKU in adults; and those other risks detailed from time to time under the caption “Risk Factors” and elsewhere in the Company’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings including the Annual Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31, 2018, and future filings and reports by the Company. The Company undertakes no duty or obligation to update any forward-looking statements contained in this Current Report on Form 8-K as a result of new information, future events or changes in its expectations. BioMarin® is a registered trademark, and Palynziq™ is a trademark of BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc.

Redwood Credit Union Wins NACHA Payment Award

Redwood Credit Union (RCU) has won an award for RCUpay from NACHA, the Electronic Payments Association®, which celebrates proven accomplishment and leadership in the payments industry and recognizes innovations defining the future.

RCUpay is a mobile-first solution that allows customers to send money to anyone in the U.S. via email or text. Competing with person-to-person (P2P) players such as Venmo and PayPal, RCUpay sets itself apart by streamlining payments in real-time between members. RCUpay also foregoes the burdensome registration process common with other P2P services to claim funds.

“Receiving an award from NACHA, which sets payment standards nationally, is very exciting,” said Todd Lindemann, SVP Payments. “We wanted to offer our members a system that was free, fast, simple to utilize and secure, which they could rely on completely. Receiving this award from NACHA helps to validate that we did our job well.”

Chief operating officer of NACHA, Jane Larimer, reported, “We are proud to recognize Team Redwood as a well-deserving recipient of the 2018 NACHA Payments Awards. This is an incredible group of award winners who stood out for their accomplishments, leadership and for continuing to push the boundaries of innovation in the payments industry.”

About Redwood Credit Union

Founded in 1950, Redwood Credit Union (RCU) is a full-service financial institution providing personal and business banking to consumers and businesses in the North Bay and San Francisco. RCU offers complete financial services, including checking and savings accounts, auto and home loans, credit cards, online and mobile banking, business services, commercial and SBA lending, wealth management, financial planning services, and more. The Credit Union also offers insurance and discount auto sales through their wholly-owned subsidiary. RCU has over $4 billion in assets and serves over 300,000 Members with full-service branches from San Francisco to Ukiah, more than 30,000 fee-free network ATMs nationwide, and convenient, free online and mobile banking. RCU can be followed on Facebook at and on Twitter at @Redwoodcu. For more information, please call 1 (800) 479-7928 or visit

Kaiser Permanente thinks working together can reduce mental health stigma

Kaiser Permanente recently awarded two local grants totaling $180,000 to help reduce mental health stigma.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, each year one in five adults in the United States experiences some type of mental health condition including substance addiction.

Despite the prevalence of mental health conditions, many people are reluctant to seek treatment, even refraining from discussing the issues with those close to them. Latino communities are especially vulnerable to mental health stigma, with Latinos less likely to view mental health as part of total health. In general, public stigma is significantly higher for substance use than well-known mental health conditions, such as depression.

Also, self-stigma related to substance use and other mental health issues is extremely high in adolescents, which results in many avoiding treatment. In fact, 90 percent of adolescents report that self-stigma often prevents them from seeking care.

“Half of people with chronic mental health conditions have experienced symptoms by age 14, yet only one in 10 youth seek treatment, whereas, adults, and specifically aging adults, are more likely to access treatment,” says Alena Wall, Community Benefit manager, Marin-Sonoma. “Because of this, Kaiser Permanente is taking a bold step toward changing this social norm.”

Local grants

To address stigma among vulnerable populations and increase the community’s understanding of mental health, Kaiser Permanente has approved $180,000 in grants to be split between two Marin-Sonoma nonprofit organizations.

A $90,000 grant has been awarded to LifeWorks of Sonoma County. LifeWorks has provided mental health counseling services and community education in Sonoma County for over 20 years, specializing in reaching the most vulnerable youth in school settings, as well as at home. The organization has been highly involved with traumainformed care related to immigration policy and fears within our immigrant community. LifeWorks has several programs focused on engaging Spanish-speaking families to reduce stigma so their children can access mental health services.

Another $90,000 has been approved for North Marin Community Services. The organization’s stigma reduction initiative will implement a Spanish-language stigma education media campaign and train community influencers to educate Latino men about the role of mental health in overall health.

LifeWorks and North Marin Community Services aren’t alone in aiding those with mental health conditions and working to overcome stigma. Other local resources include:

In San Rafael:
• Buckelew Programs,
• Community Action Marin,
• Jewish Family Services Agency,
• Marin Health and Human Services,
• North Marin Community Services,
• Petaluma People Services,
• Ritter Center,
• Seneca Family of Agencies,
• Youth Leadership Institute,

In Santa Rosa:
• California Parenting Institute,
• Community Matters,
• Council on Aging,
• Elsie Allen Foundation,
• LifeWorks,
• National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI),
• Social Advocates for Youth (SAY),
• Verity,

SRJC Awarded $1.6M For Higher Education Innovation

Santa Rosa Junior College: Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC) is the recipient of a $1.6 million award from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Higher Education Innovation Awards Program . The awards recognize innovations that improve student success, with a particular focus on underrepresented and underserved groups; demonstrate revolutionary learning or student support models; and are sustainable and capable of being scaled across the state. The Petaluma campus’s Student Success Team was one of only 11 projects out of 65 submissions to be selected. The award money will be used to take the Student Success Team model developed at SRJC Petaluma throughout the Sonoma County Junior College district.

The Student Success Team moves beyond traditional Student Ambassador programs and utilizes peer Student Success Coaches to welcome, guide, and engage each student from the moment of application to successful completion of the first semester and re-enrollment in the next. Then it provides on-going support to help students complete their educational goals. The program focuses on students who are underrepresented in higher education, such as those who are low-income, from underrepresented schools and neighborhoods, first-generation, current or former foster youth, and those with disabilities.

During the pre-enrollment period, all new students are placed on a team with a coach and are given a mobile app platform to connect with their coach, other peers, resources, services and events. Once students are successfully enrolled, coaches engage students with class visits, workshops, events, and one-on-one coaching sessions. Program outcomes show marked improvement in matriculation step completion, course retention, and semester-to-semester persistence, particularly for Latinx (Latino) and first-generation students.

North Bay Leadership Council Thinks New Technology Can Help California’s Workforce Get Future-Ready

One thing is for sure about the future of work in California: It’s going to keep changing.

That’s the theme repeated at 21 economic MeetUps sponsored by the California Community Colleges and California Forward and a plethora of regional partners. The Future of Work MeetUp series (one more is scheduled for May 25 in Fresno) and Future of Work Surveys attracted more than 1,000 employers—including a good number of small business representatives, educators and workforce professionals.

The input from regional leaders on ways to better serve the millions of California workers left “stranded” by technology is collected in a new report, Can Technology Help Us Get Future-Ready?, which also includes next steps and feedback on the proposed online-only community college solution.

One challenge that’s front of mind for these leaders is the impact of automation on the future workforce. 90 percent of those surveyed believe that automation will disrupt their workplace in the next five years—about half of them believe it will be a noticeable disruption.

“Many jobs will still require some level of human interaction to be successful,” said Kristie Griffin of Dignity Health in a report to be issued by the Community Colleges. “The challenge we face lies in changing the way we train people for the new high-tech workplace.”

A priority at the MeetUps—held in fourteen different California economic regions—was the issue of what is being called the “stranded worker.” They are California residents who have received some college education, but never completed a credential, or have been in the workforce and have never been to college at all. Especially at risk are those whose jobs are threatened by automation and technological innovation generally.

There are an estimated eight million of them—about a third of them under the age of 35.

“We need to remember that all of us will be stranded if we don’t keep upskilling,” added Cynthia Murray of the North Bay Leadership Group.

The MeetUps discussed solutions to the problem including Governor Brown’s proposal for a statewide online community college to serve the needs of a large population of Californians that the 114-campus community college system — the largest higher education system in the world — currently doesn’t serve.

What the Community College leaders heard was the need for an online college that does the following:

    1. A high support student experience that will attract not only qualified faculty but mentors and other support for the students—many of whom are not going to be used how to navigate technology
    1. Access to technology and equipment (and in many part of California) broadband.
    1. Has cultural adeptness—very important given that about half of the stranded workers under 35 speak Spanish as their primary language
  1. Creates curricula that have relevancy and efficiency—providing flexible scheduling and employer verified skills—a very important consideration when you learn that 83 percent of workers surveyed say that inconvenient class time keep them from enrolling in college.

The profile of the stranded worker is as diverse as California itself. When we asked employer, educators and workforce professionals across California what best describes the stranded worker, there was no single answer.

They might be immigrant adults with limited English, single parents, people with outdated skills and degrees, people with some college but no degree, and individuals with a history in the criminal justice system, and/or a veteran. In other words, it is a vast and large pool of California residents who can improve their lives if they have better job skills.

“As a young adult, the opportunity to take online courses changed my life,” said California Forward’s Leah Grassini Moehle who attended most of the 21 MeetUps held across the state. “Graduating debt free is a big deal in today’s economy and this approach to online education creates an opportunity that is much more attainable for today’s working adults.”

The online community college proposal—which has generated some opposition from community college faculty—is included in the Governor’s proposed state budget and approval by the Legislature to launch this idea is expected soon.

For Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley, he knows this ambitious effort is going to take hard work to effectively implement.

“This is a population that has a hard time getting to our brick-and-mortar colleges, or fitting into our traditional academic schedule,” Oakley told EdSource. “We will have a lot of work to do to reach these working age adults, and give them access to higher education and the support services they need to succeed.”

The full “Can Technology Help Us Get Future-Ready?” report can be downloaded here. And be sure to read stories about California’s diverse workforce needs in our Future of Work MeetUp series.

Redwood Credit Union Ranks 2nd in Nation

Redwood Credit Union (RCU) has recently been ranked the 2nd healthiest credit union in the United States (out of approximately 5,600 credit unions), according to Glatt Consulting’s Credit Union HealthScore, which measures credit union strength and growth.

Glatt Consulting, an independent firm that studies the financial health of credit unions, uses 17 performance metrics to calculate its Credit Union HealthScore, including financial and operational strength and growth, asset quality, asset/liability management, and productivity. RCU is the only credit union to have been ranked in the top five in each of the last four years.

“Financial strength and stability is key for any financial institution, and as a credit union, our continued strength and growth allows us to return even greater value to our Members and community, and further help them succeed,” says Brett Martinez, President & CEO. 

Redwood experienced strong growth in 2017, reaching more than $4 billion in assets and over 300,000 Members. In addition to traditional banking services such as checking, savings and loans, Redwood Credit Union also offers a wide variety of expanded products and services such as wealth management and financial planning, insurance, Small Business Administration (SBA) loans, and auto sales, which puts the Credit Union’s total assets under management at nearly $6 billion. RCU is currently the 42nd largest credit union in asset size in the U.S., and 10th largest in California.

About Redwood Credit Union

Founded in 1950, Redwood Credit Union is a full-service financial institution providing personal and business banking to consumers and businesses in the North Bay and San Francisco. RCU offers complete financial services including checking and savings accounts, auto and home loans, credit cards, online and mobile banking, business services, commercial and SBA lending, investment and financial planning services, and more. The Credit Union also offers insurance and discount auto sales through their wholly-owned subsidiary. RCU now has $4.3 billion in assets and serves over 310,000 Members with full-service branches from San Francisco to Ukiah, more than 30,000 fee-free network ATMs nationwide plus a foreign ATM fee rebate program, and convenient, free online and mobile banking. RCU is on Facebook at and on Twitter at @redwoodcu. For more information, please call 1 (800) 479-7928 or visit  

Sonoma Raceway Announces ‘Sonoma Rising’ Initiative Around NASCAR Weekend

In recognition of the devastating wild fires that ravaged the North Bay in October, Sonoma Raceway will utilize its largest event weekend to support the theme “Sonoma Rising,” an initiative to honor those affected by the disaster, salute first responders and lend support to the North Bay’s ongoing rebuilding efforts.

The Northern California wildfires, which burned from Oct. 8-31, were among the most destructive in California history and became the costliest group of wildfires on record, claiming 23 lives, charring more than 114,000 acres and destroying more than 5,300 homes. More than 10,000 firefighters battled the blazes, utilizing more than 1,000 fire engines and other equipment.

The Sonoma Rising theme will feature prominently in both the advance promotion and race weekend activities surrounding the Toyota/Save Mart 350 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event, June 22-24.  The effort is intended not only to honor and support those directly affected by the fires, but also to promote the short- and long-term effort to rebuild lives, structures and the economic vitality of the region.

“For those who endured the October fires, the memories and the anxieties of that period are still very present,” said Steve Page, Sonoma Raceway president and general manager. “We want to honor those feelings, as well as the heroes who stepped in to do battle on our behalf.  And looking forward, we want to share the message that Sonoma is indeed rising, open for business and welcoming visitors with open arms.”

Community members and race fans alike can participate in Sonoma Rising, including three unique programs:

  • Send Fire Survivors to the Races: Fans, businesses and community members can help those affected by the fires enjoy a day at the track by purchasing a NASCAR race-day ticket for Sunday, June 24, for just $20. The raceway will work with The United Way to distribute tickets to local residents.
  • Nominate a Hero: Nominations for Sonoma County residents who were particularly heroic during the fires can be submitted at The submission should include reasons the hero should be selected, as well as a picture of the person, if possible. Nominees can include first responders, community members or public servants. The winning hero will be recognized during pre-race ceremonies at the Toyota/Save Mart 350.
  • Shop Sonoma: Sonoma Raceway has teamed up with the Sonoma Chamber of Commerce, Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau and Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers to drive business to local companies. In addition to hosting the Sonoma Shuttle from the 50 Acres campground to the Sonoma Plaza for the fourth consecutive year, race fans can show their tickets at participating Sonoma Valley businesses for special offers and discounts around race weekend (June 18-26). For a complete list of participating businesses, visit

Sonoma Rising will also be prominently featured throughout the Toyota/Save Mart 350 race weekend, including honoring first responders and local heroes throughout the Pre-Race Show powered by Friedman’s Home Improvement. For more information or to purchase race tickets, visit

Sonoma Raceway Hosts North Bay Students in STEM Race Car Challenge During NASCAR

North Bay students from 40 classrooms and clubs will take part in the 5th annual STEM Race Car Challenge, presented by Friedman’s Home Improvement.

This curriculum-based program, a partnership with Sonoma Raceway, Kid Scoop News and Friedman’s Home Improvement, focuses on educating students about the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and culminates at the Toyota/Save Mart 350 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event in June.

Groups of student engineers have been tasked with developing a gravity-powered race car utilizing recycled materials. Kid Scoop News works closely with teachers to develop a STEM-based curriculum that challenges students to think critically and work collaboratively to build the quickest car. Activities in the STEM Race Car Challenge, presented by Friedman’s Home Improvement, are designed to introduce and reinforce both national common core standards and 21st century job skills.

Students will put their purpose-built race cars to the test in a series of qualifying rounds at each school, which will narrow down to a group of finalists who will compete in the final round on Saturday, June 23, of the Toyota/Save Mart 350 weekend. The winning student engineers of the STEM Race Car Challenge will serve as VIPs during the Carneros 200 NASCAR West Series race on Saturday, receive a trophy and tickets to Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 race, courtesy of Friedman’s Home Improvement.

Sonoma Raceway has partnered with Sonoma-based Kid Scoop News, a children’s literacy non-profit that publishes and distributes a free monthly reader to 500 classrooms and 18,000 kids in the North and East Bay, on the race car challenge. Kid Scoop News has been key to the program, as the organization is a leader in providing high-interest content that motivates kids to read and explore topics, including STEM. Through their effort, the program has reached more than 4,000 students since its inception in 2014.

North Bay schools and clubs participating in this year’s STEM Race Car Challenge include:

  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Sonoma County: Camp Cloverdale; Camp Guerneville; Camp Healdsburg; Camp Lucchesi Park; Camp Rohnert Park; Camp Sheppard Elementary; Camp Matanzas Elementary; Camp Brooks Road; and Camp Taylor Mountain Elementary.
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley (9 elementary and middle school campuses)
  • Coleman Elementary School (San Rafael)
  • Dunbar Elementary School (Sonoma)
  • Hidden Valley School (Santa Rosa)
  • La Tercera Elementary School (Petaluma)
  • Loma Verde Elementary (Petaluma)
  • Parkmont Elementary School (Fremont)
  • The Presentation School (Sonoma)
  • University Elementary (Rohnert Park)
  • Waldo Rohnert Elementary (Rohnert Park)
  • West Side Elementary School (Healdsburg)
  • Windsor Creek Elementary

“The demand for STEM jobs has been three times greater than the demand for non-STEM jobs,” said Vicki Whiting, content developer and publisher of Kid Scoop News.  “To create the workforce our country needs, STEM careers must be nurtured and encourage in today’s youth. Teachers have told us that working on STEM subjects by offering a hands-on, car-racing theme really engages their students!”

NASCAR fans and guests are invited to watch the finals of the STEM Race Car Challenge, presented by Friedman’s Home Improvement at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 23, in Sonoma Raceway’s Sunoco Victory Lane located just south of the main grandstand. For tickets or more information on NASCAR’s annual visit to Sonoma, visit or call 800-870-RACE.

Marin Builders Association awards $16,500 in scholarships

Marin-area high school students have been awarded $16,500 in college scholarships in the annual Marin Builders Association scholarship program for 2018.

The awards will be presented May 24 at a reception hosted by Jason’s restaurant in Greenbrae.

Scholarship winners are Monica Poblano, of Pinole Valley High School, $3,000; Alyssa Estrella-Moody, of San Rafael High School, $2,500; Anais Nagle, of Sir Francis Drake High School, $1,500.

Winners of $1,000 scholarships were: Lilian Covarrubias Razo, of Terra Linda High School; Abigail Floyd, of Sir Francis Drake High School; Joseph Garbarino, of Marin Catholic High School; Cameron Lind, of Redwood High School; and Stephen Thompson, San Marin High School.

Winners of $500 scholarships were: Shae Daly, of San Rafael High School; Nashielli Diaz, of The Branson School; Lauren Enslin, of San Marin High School; Emily Farrell, of Marin Catholic High School; Gabriel Garcia, of Novato High School; Cristina Golubovich, of Sonoma Valley High School; Sarah Groff, of Rancho Cotate High School; Aaqib Ismail, of Tamalpais High School; and Kenzie Morgenlaender, of Marin Catholic High School.

Scholarships were determined after an initial screening of applicants and interviews by an independent selection committee that included Ken Lippi, assistant superintendent, Marin County Office of Education; Cynthia Murray, president and CEO of the North Bay Leadership Council; and Rob Devincenzi, president and publisher of the Marin Independent Journal.

Since 1978 the association has awarded nearly $1 million in scholarships to local high school students who are pursuing a higher education at a college, university or trade school.

Redwood Credit Union Finishes Strong in the Race to Support Local Nonprofits

Redwood Credit Union (RCU) employees contributed over $45,000 to local nonprofits by sponsoring, fundraising, and participating in Human Race events in Sonoma and Mendocino Counties. More than 120 volunteers, including employees, family, and friends, walked or ran in the Sonoma County race on April 27th and the Mendocino race on May 5th. Both Human Race events are put on by the local volunteer centers in each county.

Human Race participants collected pledges and raised money in a variety of ways for local nonprofits of their choice. Different departments raised funds by offering pozole, taco, nacho, and Hawaiian BBQ lunches for staff who donated, and several engaged local restaurants in “dine and donate” days. There was also a silent auction and a day of sponsored candy-grams delivered to RCU employees.

“RCU loves supporting the Human Race, as evidenced by the inventive ways our employees raise funds,” said Mishel Kaufman, senior vice president of risk management and team captain for RCU’s Human Race efforts. “I think the fact that each person can choose the nonprofit for which they’re raising funds makes it more meaningful to each individual. This is a special event for us and the whole community.”

Redwood Credit Union is an active supporter of the communities it serves, through sponsorships, fundraising and volunteering. In 2017, RCU employees and officials collectively volunteered more than 7,300 hours at community events.

About Redwood Credit Union

Founded in 1950, Redwood Credit Union (RCU) is a full-service financial institution providing personal and business banking to consumers and businesses in the North Bay and San Francisco. RCU offers complete financial services, including checking and savings accounts, auto and home loans, credit cards, online and mobile banking, business services, commercial and SBA lending, wealth management, financial planning services, and more. The Credit Union also offers insurance and discount auto sales through their wholly-owned subsidiary. RCU has over $4 billion in assets and serves over 303,000 Members with full-service branches from San Francisco to Ukiah, more than 30,000 fee-free network ATMs nationwide, and convenient, free online and mobile banking. RCU can be followed on Facebook at and on Twitter at @Redwoodcu. For more information, please call 1 (800) 479-7928 or visit