CWU News

CWU Receives Slice of Washington Apple Education Foundation Scholarships

Central Washington University students will be among those benefiting from a bumper scholarship crop announced today (Thursday, May 5) during the Washington Apple Education Foundation board of directors meeting on the Ellensburg campus.

At the meeting, WAEF board members learned that—for the first time—the foundation has eclipsed the $1 million mark in annual scholarship funding. That represents a 15-percent increase from just one-year ago.

“Sharing in that $1 million this year are over 200 students with hopes and dreams for the future,” said Rachel Sullivan, WAEF’s outgoing chair. “This represents tremendous growth. Just five years ago, WAEF was awarding less than $500,000 thousand dollars annually.”

The money is earmarked for students heading to universities, four- and two-year colleges, and technical and trade schools across the state and nation. They all come from fruit-growing areas of Washington, which includes 45 school districts throughout Benton, Chelan, Douglas, Franklin, Kittitas, Okanogan, Walla Walla, and Yakima counties.

Scholarship donations are made through annual giving and one-time endowment gifts made by members from all sectors of the tree fruit industry, which include growers, packers, suppliers, service providers and others. The WAEF is funded through voluntary contributions made by those connected to the state’s tree fruit industry, along with revenue generated through a variety of annual events.

Sullivan was joined by CWU President James L. Gaudino. He noted that, to demonstrate CWU’s support for such students and its commitment to their success, CWU began matching WAEF scholarships with tuition waivers two years ago.

“Making those dollars go a little bit farther,” Gaudino pointed out. “But what I really want to thank you for is the extra step you do. The check that you write is not a gift. It is not a blank check. You also follow that student and mentor that student to make them successful. And, in that way, your check becomes an investment in someone’s life, an investment in our state, and an investment in our economy.”

Many of the recipients—including an estimated 75 percent of this year—are first-generation college students. Additionally, about 75 percent of the scholarship recipients are Latino/Latina, based on WAEF statistics.

Also taking part in the Thursday ceremony were Gene Sharratt, Washington Student Achievement Council executive director; Armando Garcia, Yakima’s Davis High School guidance specialist; and CWU junior Madai Martinez, from Yakima, a WAEF scholarship recipient, who says the scholarship was crucial in allowing her to go to college.  

“Three-years later, I’m still receiving their support, which is something I’m really thankful for,” Martinez acknowledged. “I’m a year away from graduating with two bachelor’s degrees, one in accounting and the other in human resources. Graduating from college is not just a great accomplishment for me but also for my family and community, as I am a first-generation [college] student. I want to thank WAEF for being a part of that and for helping make my dreams come true.” 

WAEF manages more than 100 college scholarship funds. While each incorporates its own set of specific criteria, they are all targeted at assisting youth from families connected to or employed within the tree fruit industry.

The list of students—the majority of whom already attend college—receiving WAEF scholarships will be finalized later this month. It’s believed that many of them will have also received previous awards.

May 5, 2016

Media contact: Jennifer Witherbee, executive director, WAEF, 509-663-7713,

Photo: CWU student Madai Martinez