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Huddle Up for Oregon scholarship campaign raises money to support state's future leaders

Joey Harrington is calling on the community to help raise money for his scholarship program that fosters future leaders in Oregon.

PORTLAND, Ore. — A campaign to help Oregon college students with scholarships is back. You can donate when you buy groceries at Safeway or Albertsons in the state now through Aug. 4.

A familiar face is behind the Huddle Up effort: former Ducks and NFL quarterback Joey Harrington. His foundation, the Harrington Family Foundation, is dedicated to helping local students find success.

The foundation seeks out scholarship recipients who have shown leadership in their own communities. Students like Oregon State University junior Theresa Mai. She just renewed her scholarship for a third year. 

Credit: Theresa Mai
Theresa Mai

"I really love helping people. I feel like it's a cliché thing everyone says but I feel for me, I really love helping people especially in terms of social mobility," she said.

Mai is carving out a path for a better future. Since high school she has focused on leadership in STEM.

Credit: Theresa Mai
Theresa Mai working in robotics

Now, well into her college career, she is double majoring in public policy and psychology. It's a combination of skills she hopes will lead to a career in the Oregon Legislature.

"To help people like my family, like me, like those in my community," Mai said.

Mai is the first in her family to go to college. The daughter of Vietnamese immigrants, she had her sights set on higher education, but worried it might be out of reach.

"I always knew I wanted to go to college, actually at the end of elementary school," she said. "But for me, I realized, it can also pose a financial burden as well because college is a lot of money."

For Mai, and many students like her, the cost of high education can kill a dream of achieving a college degree. That's where the Harrington Family Foundation comes in with their four-year renewable scholarship.

Credit: Harrington Family Foundation
Harrington Family Foundation Scholarship Dinner

"It's about finding students who are overlooked. It's about finding students that are from marginalized communities who aren't even considered for 'normal' scholarships because their grades don't look spotless, because they don't have perfect test scores," Harrington said. "But those programs, those scholarships don't take into account real life."

The former University of Oregon quarterback created his foundation to help build the next generation of leaders in Oregon. The scholarship goes beyond finances with a focus on mentorship

"It's not just, 'Hey here's a check. Here ya go, see ya later,' but rather, I'm making an investment in you because I know by making an investment I you, I'm making an investment in our entire community," Harrington explained.

No matter what a student's career choice may be, success is often determined by who you know, rather than what you know, Harrington said. That is why he wants to help these up-and-coming leaders build their own networks.

"I'm with a mentor from Intel, her name is Olivia Ong, and she's absolutely fantastic," Mai said. "I feel like, with her support, she truly understands what it's like to be a student going through college and also transitioning out of it as well."

As the Harrington Family Foundation scholarship continues to grow through the years, Harrington hopes students like Mai will become future mentors to create a never-ending circle of support and community.

"When I'm 75 and sitting on the front porch in my rocking chair, I want to know that our community is taken care of," Harrington said.

"Bringing back talent to our communities to help support whatever we want to do and help uplift each other," Mai said. "So, that's how I see it. We help you and we help each other in that way." 

KGW has been proud to partner with the Harrington Family Foundation for the past four years and we need your help to keep future's, like Mai's, bright. Donating is easy. You can do it at the cash register while shopping at any Oregon Safeway or Albertsons stores through Aug. 4. Learn more at kgw.com/huddleup.

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