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The Washington Apple Education Foundation (WAEF) has reached a milestone of awarding $1 million in a single year to college-bound students raised in fruit growing districts of Washington state.  Wenatchee-based WAEF was founded in 1994 to be the charity of the tree fruit industry.  Its mission is to impact lives through access to educational opportunities.

“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

Washington Apple Education Foundation

Washington Apple Education Foundation

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 is CEO of Crane & Crane, Inc. located in Brewster, Washington.

WAEF is funded through voluntary contributions made by growers, packers, suppliers, service providers and others connected to the tree fruit industry, including Good Fruit Grower.  Donations to the scholarship program are made through annual giving and one-time endowment gifts.  Additional funding for foundation operations is generated through annual events, including scholarship luncheons held during the summer months in its primary markets of Yakima and Wenatchee.

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 many have received WAEF scholarship awards for multiple years.  The foundation estimates that three-quarters of this year’s scholarship recipients are first generation college students. Last year 225 students shared in just over $850,000 in scholarships.

For additional information on the Washington Apple Education Foundation or its programs, visit website, www.waef.org or contact Jennifer Witherbee, executive director, at (509) 663-7713 or Jennifer.witherbee@waef.org.