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University Advancement

Ruth Harrington Scholarship Luncheons Raise $1 Million

This year’s CWU Alumni Association Legacy Award honoree, Ruth Harrington, with the help of all of the scholarship brunch, lunch, and dinner groups, have reached the $1 million mark.

Let’s just let that sink in for a moment: a million dollars.

In 1973, Harrington began organizing members from the community to raise money for CWU student scholarships that would benefit high school seniors and single parents.

Harrington saw her love of cooking as a way to bring CWU and the community of Ellensburg together. “I just thought ‘we need to all work together and benefit students.’” Harrington says.

She added, “I’m just happy that we’ve been able to raise this much money over the years and benefit students with help from so many people. We’ve had silent auctions, cookbooks, and so many things that helped raise this money over the years–it was not just me. I want to thank all the people that have been involved and contributed.” 

This scholarship program began as a coffee hour at Harrington’s house with 22 women paying $1.50 each. By the end of the first year, participants grew to 22 separate groups, each with 12 members. 44 years later, Harrington has officially raised $1 million. She has become a staple in the lives of CWU students and the Central Washington community.

“The Ruth Harrington Scholarship luncheons are a great example of the impact one person can have on the lives of many.” Says Catherin Scarlett, luncheon participant and CWU donor. “Ruth tracks each group’s members, calls to remind folks to attend and along the way collects thousands of dollars each year for these scholarships.”

She does this without email, social media, or any assistance. Scarlett continues, “In the era of email and reminders from our devices, I still get a personal phone call from Ruth telling me about my lunch group.  Once you have personally told Ruth that you will be there, you’re less likely to miss it.”

Scott Wade, Vice President of University Advancement and Executive Director of the CWU Foundation, expressed his sincere gratitude by saying, “We appreciate the decades of investment that Ruth has made to CWU and the lives of our students.  She has devoted her life to this amazing scholarship program, and her legacy will have transformational impact for generations.”

The Legacy Award honors individuals whose contributions and achievements in the community embody CWU’s mission of fostering citizenship, being responsible stewards of the earth, and leading enlightened and productive lives.

The Ellensburg Downtown Association honored Harrington with the 2013 Town and Gown Award for her contributions in supporting a strong and collaborative partnership between CWU and the Ellensburg community.

We would be remiss, if we didn’t add that if you’re interested in taking part, there are brunches, lunches (12:00 and 1:00) and dinner groups. You can contact Ruth directly via the donors page.

December 7, 2017


On behalf of the CWU Alumni Association and CWU Foundation, the university and the community, we want to extend our deepest thanks to Ruth and others for their monumental contributions to CWU, students, and the community.

If you know a prospective or current student that may benefit from a scholarship, encourage them to visit to apply today. For more information on donating to a scholarship, or staring your own, contact the CWU Foundation at or call 509-963-2160.

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