CWU News

Two-Year Agreement Allows APOYO to Remain in On-Campus Location

An APOYO volunteer organizes donated food supplies.

The nonprofit community support organization APOYO signed a new two-year agreement with CWU to remain at its on campus location through October 2024.

Central Washington University and APOYO reached a new two-year agreement last fall that will keep the community support organization on the Ellensburg campus for at least two more years.

The facilities use agreement, signed by university administration and the APOYO board of directors, allows the longtime nonprofit to remain in its current location at 18th Avenue and Brook Lane until October 31, 2024. The accompanying memorandum of understanding (MOU) requires the organization to provide programs for CWU students, including internships and volunteer opportunities, in exchange for the residential space.

APOYO, which stands for Allied People Offering Year-Round Outreach and means “support” in Spanish, has been providing food, clothing, household supplies, and support programs to underserved members of the CWU and Ellensburg communities since it was founded in the mid-1990s. Executive Director Stefanie Wickstrom said she and her colleagues are overjoyed to have an opportunity to continue their work in a location that is accessible to both students and Ellensburg residents who need a helping hand.

“We are very pleased to be able to continue our years-long relationship with CWU,” Wickstrom said. “For nearly 25 years, APOYO has offered educational opportunities for students and faculty, cultural activities on campus, and food for students in exchange for a place to do our work. This mutually beneficial relationship has always been important to APOYO, and having two more years on campus will enable us to meet our longer-term goal of building a community center for the people we serve.” 

Likewise, the university recognizes how much APOYO has done over the past three decades to provide underrepresented community members with a year-round support network. CWU President Jim Wohlpart says the new agreement demonstrates how much Central is invested in the health and well-being of all Ellensburg residents.

“APOYO has done so much to support the people of our community, and we are proud to extend our successful partnership for at least the next two years,” he said. “Their volunteers provide access to food and resources for many people in Kittitas County, and we believe it is our responsibility to continue strengthening that relationship.”

A family picks up a donation at the former APOYO facility on University Way.APOYO’s stated goal is to serve the campus community, Latinx people in the Kittitas Valley, and anyone else in need of assistance. The organization was founded by retired CWU English Professor Philip Garrison, in partnership with two Mexican immigrant friends and former faculty members, the late Stella Moreno and Minerva Caples. It began operating on CWU’s campus in 1998, became incorporated in 1999, and received its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status in 2000.

Wickstrom added that, in the past, faculty members have carried out research projects and structured learning activities for students using APOYO’s resources. Some faculty and student volunteers have taught language courses, provided nutritional expertise, and developed support programs that benefit children and adults alike.

“We provide food, internships, and volunteer opportunities, plus other educational resources for CWU students and Latinx community members,” Wickstrom said. “There’s nothing else like this in Kittitas County, and there is always a tremendous need. This work is so important, and we hope to continue doing it for a very long time.”

Wickstrom and the board of directors are currently working on plans to build a new outreach center that will provide APOYO with even more capacity to deliver educational opportunities and multicultural enrichment to students and local residents.

Anthropology professor Hope Amason serves on the APOYO board and has been a volunteer for the past 12 years. She believes the organization should be regarded as one of the university’s greatest achievements.

“I’m proud of APOYO because we have built an organization that has allowed many people to live enriched, fulfilled lives,” Amason said. “But it goes deeper than that. Everyone at CWU—students, staff, faculty—is served by APOYO in some way. It brings us together as community members and helps us build relationships with people we may not otherwise get to know. I love that aspect of what we do.”

Aside from serving as a dependable nutritional resource for students and families, APOYO also acts as a community hub for people who often have nowhere else to turn. Amason believes APOYO represents the goodness that can result from a commitment to social sustainability.

“Being able to make our community a place that everyone wants to be—that’s what the board members want to see,” she said. “We want to make sure we are involved in building relationships with other humans so we can create an equitable, inclusive space that allows everyone to understand who they are and how they can realize their personal goals in life.”

Media Contact: David Leder, Department of Public Affairs,, 509-963-1518