WENATCHEE, WA — The Washington Apple Education Foundation announced at its annual board of directors meeting in May the milestone of awarding $1 million in scholarships in a single year to college bound students raised in fruit growing districts of Washington state.
“Today is a big day for the Washington Apple Education Foundation but most importantly for students raised in fruit growing regions. Washington’s tree fruit industry created the Washington Apple Education Foundation to serve as its charity 22 years ago. At that time scholarships were one of several outreach activities planned for the foundation. Over the years industry members made it clear, by their comments and contributions, this needed to be our focus: they wanted to provide a path for young people from our districts to attend college,” shared Rachel Sullivan, outgoing chairman of the foundation, at the announcement. She is the CEO of Crane & Crane, Inc. located in Brewster, WA.
The announcement event occurred at the close of the meeting and was attended by several guests.
Dr. James Gaudino, president of CWU commended the foundation and its supporters commenting 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.
Dr. Gene Sharratt, executive director of the Washington State Achievement Council, and an early supporter of the foundation thanked those present for their commitment to access of higher education, especially for first-generation college students.
Armando Garcia, guidance counselor at A.C. Davis High School and Maria Urena, also from A.C. Davis High School shared the importance of scholarships to recipients, their families and the greater community.
The foundation’s announcement was made complete by one of their current scholarship recipients who spoke on the impact support from private scholarships made to her ability to attend college. Madai Martinez told those present that when she was in high school she didn’t believe college was a choice for her due to financial constraints. She is now nearing the end of her junior year with plans to complete a dual major and graduate from Central Washington in June 2017.
The WAEF is funded through voluntary contributions made by growers, packers, suppliers, service providers and others connected to the tree fruit industry.  In total, the foundation manages over 100 unique scholarship funds each with its own set of specific criteria but sharing a primary purpose of assisting young people raised in families connected to or employed in the tree fruit industry attend college.
Sharing in this year’s scholarship awards are over 200 students. The majority are currently attending college and has received WAEF scholarship awards for multiple years. The foundation estimates that three-quarters of this year’s scholarship recipients are first generation college students.
For additional information on the Washington Apple Education Foundation or its programs, please visit our website, www.waef.org or contact Jennifer Witherbee, executive director, at (509) 663-7713 or Jennifer.witherbee@waef.org .