Washington's Tree Fruit Industry Provides Amazing Support to Students!

        Pictured: WAEF board of directors and WAEF executive director Jennifer Witherbee

        Pictured: WAEF board of directors and WAEF executive director Jennifer Witherbee

 Today WAEF directors shared some exciting news at their annual meeting -  reaching the milestone of awarding $1 million in a single year to college bound students raised in fruit growing districts of Washington state!

            "Growth of the foundation's scholarship program in recent years has been significant," shared the foundation's outgoing chairman Rachel Sullivan. "WAEF is supported through voluntary gifts from members of the tree fruit industry. Five years ago we awarded just over $400,000 in scholarships. Each year since we've seen significant jumps in industry supported scholarships." Sullivan has served as chairman of the foundation for the past year. She is the CEO of Crane & Crane, Inc. located in Brewster, Washington.  

The announcement occurred at Central Washington University where the foundation holds its quarterly meetings. Media was invited to attend.

Dr. James Guadino, president of Central Washington University shared in the excitement and provided his remarks, "This is an important milestone for college bound students from our region.  CWU began offering tuition waivers to WAEF students two years ago as a way of demonstrating our support to the students they reach, many being first-generation college students, and in recognition of the foundation's commitment to student success.  We are impressed with the commitment WAEF makes to each of its scholarship recipients to not only provide them with financial support but also to walk side by side with them through their college experience and career entry.  On behalf of Central Washington University, I applaud the tree fruit industry for its commitment."

            Also attending was the executive director of the Washington Student Achievement Council Dr. Gene Sharratt. The Washington State Achievement Council is a cabinet-level state agency. In addition to representing WSAC at this event, Dr. Sharratt has a special connection to WAEF having assisted with our initial organization of the scholarship program 20 years ago. Dr. Sharratt: "The assistance of private scholarship funds is vital to college accessibility for thousands of Washington youth.  The WAEF assists young people whose parents are employed in the tree fruit industry.  Many of these parents work in labor positions to provide for the immediate needs of their families; the cost of college attendance is an expense greater than they can bear alone.  Foundation donors should be commended for their efforts."

In total,  over 100 unique scholarship funds, each with its own set of specific criteria, make up the WAEF scholarship pool.

Sharing in this year's scholarship awards are over 200 students. The majority are currently attending college and have received WAEF scholarship awards for multiple years. 

The list of students receiving scholarships from WAEF this spring will be finalized in late May.
           For more information about creating a scholarship fund at WAEF, please contact the foundation's executive director Jennifer Witherbee at (509) 663-7713 or jennifer.witherbee@waef.org.

Thank you to the amazing donors and supporters of WAEF for making this possible!