February 13, 2013
By Benét J. Wilson
The Sporty’s Foundation gave out $131,542 in grants in 2012, all designed to promote the interests of the next generation of general aviation. Spokesman Mark Wiesenhahn said that the foundation receives “dozens” of requests each year, and each is given careful consideration.
The foundation’s funds are limited, said Wiesenhahn, but grant funding has been between $120,000 and $140,000 a year for the past few years. “We base each donation based on the merit of how it fits with our mission, which is getting the next generation of young people into aviation,” he said. The Sporty’s Foundation grants help guarantee a robust GA community now and in the future, which is why its efforts target pilots, engineers, technicians, mechanics, and other skilled trades.
Those receiving grants offered a unique way of serving the target audience, said Wiesenhahn. “We’re also looking for programs with a national reach. There are great local programs out there, but we can’t fund everything,” he added.
The top grant recipient in 2012 was the Experimental Aircraft Association with $73,342 for the Next Step program, designed to offer Young Eagles participants a logical step once they take their first flight, along with a staff position at EAA to manage youth programs. Next was the University of Cincinnati, which received $20,000 for aviation scholarships for students enrolled in the professional pilot program. Rounding out the top five were Boy Scouts of America, with $8,200 to support the Dan Beard Council’s “Inspiring Achievement” campaign, Eagle Scout scholarship, and other youth programs; Aircraft Electronics Association, with $7,000 to fund two avionics technicians to earn their recreational pilot certificates; and $5,000 each for Aviation Exploring to fund academic scholarships for qualified aviation explorers and Women in Aviation International to fund a recreational pilot certificate for an A&P mechanic to foster general aviation.
The foundation is flexible on deadlines to submit grant applications, said Wiesenhahn. “We can really go all the way up to the end of the year. If a great application comes in on Dec. 30, we can move quickly and get it done,” he said.
AOPA eNewsletter and Social Media Editor Benét J. Wilson joined AOPA in 2011. She is working on her private pilot certificate.
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