The AOPA Foundation today announced a $1 million donation from Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) in support of the AOPA You Can Fly initiative and its High School Aviation STEM Curriculum. The gift will enable You Can Fly to further introduce high school students to rewarding career opportunities in aviation through the free curriculum that will help ensure a bright future for general aviation.
The You Can Fly High School Aviation STEM Curriculum currently engages more than 12,000 students in 44 states – in all four high school grades. The unique program is positioned to address a well-documented and looming aviation workforce shortage in the United States Boeing Co. report suggests a need for 612,000 new pilots and 626,000 new maintenance technicians over the next 20 years.
“We are grateful to our friends at Textron for their tremendous support as we work together to grow the general aviation community, and help young people from all backgrounds discover the incredible opportunities available in aviation and aerospace,” said Elizabeth Tennyson, senior vice president of the AOPA Foundation and You Can Fly. “The You Can Fly High School Aviation STEM Curriculum is a true win-win: it addresses one of the most pressing issues facing the entire aviation industry, and it puts high school students on a solid track to rewarding careers.”
The gift was announced on behalf of Textron and its business units by Scott C. Donnelly, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer, Textron Inc. ”As a company with a long history in aviation and a family of iconic aviation brands, we’re very excited to be a part of the AOPA Foundation’s You Can Fly program and expand its reach to even more high school students across the country,” Donnelly said. “This program is a terrific way to encourage young people to learn more about aviation and expose them to an array of career opportunities – whether as a pilot, an engineer or in aircraft operations.”
The first of its kind high school curriculum, including instructional and assessment resources, is developed and continually enhanced by an expert team composed of veteran teachers, curriculum professionals, pilots and flight instructors. The courses are designed to capture the imagination and give students from diverse backgrounds the tools to pursue advanced education and careers in aviation fields. The curriculum, video-based professional development, and ongoing teacher and program support are provided to schools free of charge.
The program, launched nationwide in the 2017-2018 school year, recently celebrated its first graduates, 58% of whom reported that they plan to pursue aviation-related careers in fields such as piloting, aerospace engineering, and maintenance. The You Can Fly team is especially proud that 40% of students in the program come from minority backgrounds, 21% are female, and 54% attend mid-to-high-poverty schools. The initiative directly supports AOPA’s goal to increase inclusion in aviation.
The High School STEM Curriculum is one pillar of You Can Fly, whose mission is to get more pilots in the skies and keep them there safely. You Can Fly also supports the development of flying clubs to keep flying accessible and affordable; encourages best practices in flight training; and helps lapsed pilots to get back in the air.
You Can Fly is funded by charitable donations to the AOPA Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization.