CWU News

CWU Game On! Program Awarded $210,000 from Legislature, Charlotte Martin Foundation

The Charlotte Martin Foundation has awarded $10,000 to the $200,000 that the Washington State Legislature provided Central Washington to support Game On!, the only STEM-exploratory program of its kind that teaches computer coding, social skills, and values through soccer with a university partner.

“This timely legislative and grant funding recognizes the enormous value of developing this unique, meaningful, and targeted higher education STEM program is for underrepresented students,” said CWU President James L. Gaudino.

Game On! Students Tour Microsoft

The $210,000 will support the continuance and expansion of the Game On! program for 2018-19. The funding will allow CWU to increase student participation to approximately 500 underrepresented students—keeping with the goals initially set in 2016.

This is the first award CWU has received from the Charlotte Martin Foundation. Their mission to enrich the lives of youth, “by creating opportunities for youth, especially youth of color … and develop their skills in order to reach their potential in the world” speaks directly to CWU’s Game On! mission.

Through a partnership with the Real Madrid Foundation, Microsoft, and CWU, students in the Ellensburg, Yakima, and Mabton school districts participate in Game On!, at no cost. Game On! currently serves more than 200 students from eight schools and recently added Yakima’s Henry Beauchamp Community Center as its ninth program site.

The unique program utilizes each partner’s expertise. Students learn computer coding using curriculum provided by Microsoft; social skills and values through soccer from school district employees trained by the Real Madrid Foundation coaches; and college-ready skills from CWU staff and students.

Twice a week, students learn coding for an hour then spend 90 minutes sharpening their leadership skills through the sport of soccer. Visits to Central’s Ellensburg campus help to solidify the message that college is possible.

Since the program start in spring 2016, 358 underrepresented students have participated, and 19 have gone on to pursue higher education of which five have committed to CWU.

“It’s about our ability to make college a real possibility for these students,” said Sharon O’Hare, CWU vice president for stragetic enrollment management. “We are making the investment in their lives, so they may find their way to a better future and meet the state’s growing need for a college-educated community.”

Game On! has heavily relied on funding from CWU with in-kind donations from its partners. Support from the legislature, the Charolotte Martin Foundation, and future entities will ensure continued program growth while positively impacting students and the state.

To donate to Game On! or learn more about the program contact Manuel Rodriguez, Game On! executive director at 509-963-2216,

Photo Above: Game On! participants from Mabton Middle School visit Microsoft Headquarters.

Media contact: Dawn Alford, CWU Department of Public Affairs, 509-963-1484,