September 18, 2013
By AOPA Communications staff
The AOPA Foundation on Sept. 18 announced its inaugural “Giving Back” grant recipients. The “Giving Back” program is designed to recognize good work being done through general aviation by nonprofit organizations. The 10 recipients will each receive a $10,000 grant.
The AOPA Foundation, which is the charitable arm of AOPA, is committed to supporting the freedom to fly and to building a legacy for the future of GA.
The 10 grant recipients were chosen from more than 80 applicants and cover a variety of aviation organizations that rely on general aviation to provide services. The grantees are Air Care Alliance in Lindrith, N.M.; Challenge Air for Kids & Friends Inc. in Dallas, Texas; Duluth Aviation Institute in Duluth, Minn.; Girls Inc. of Oak Ridge in Oak Ridge, Tenn.; Kentucky Institute for Aerospace Education in Frankfort, Ky.; LightHawk in Lander, Wyo.; Pilots N Paws in Landrum, S.C.; Recreational Aviation Foundation in Bozeman, Mont.; Veterans Airlift Command in Minneapolis, Minn.; and Young Aviators in Racine, Wis.
“This program was developed to spotlight the good work being done in the GA community,” said Stephanie Kenyon, the AOPA Foundation’s vice president of strategic philanthropy. “It’s also our way of supporting those groups that are making a difference through charitable programs that rely on general aviation.”
Some of the grants will directly support the operating needs of the organizations. Girls Inc. of Oak Ridge, for instance, was given a grant to develop an aviation program for girls. The Veterans Airlift Command, an organization that provides free air transportation to post-9/11 combat-wounded veterans and their families, is going to use the funds to support a program director position.
The Young Aviators of Racine received a grant to offset the cost of three training aircraft for a youth science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) program. The Kentucky Institute for Aerospace Education will also use grant funds to support a STEM program for students in 22 high schools. The Duluth Aviation Institute, an organization geared toward preserving the community’s aviation history, is also going to use “Giving Back” funds to “expand AeroSTEM curriculum into Duluth schools.”
The Air Care Alliance was given a grant for funding staff positions to increase membership and promote public benefit flying. Challenge Air for Kids & Friends Inc. received support for free Fly-Days for kids with special needs. Environmental organization LightHawk will use its funds for outreach to volunteer pilots flying for conservation groups. Pilots N Paws will fund two annual fly-away outreach events. The Recreational Aviation Foundation, which promotes backcountry flying, was given a grant to conduct “scientific research into the stress-related effects of aircraft noise on wildlife.”
Through tax-deductible donations, the AOPA Foundation is able to fund efforts to ensure a bright future for general aviation, including improving aviation safety, expanding the pilot population, and preserving community airports. AOPA membership dues alone cannot support these important initiatives, and so donations to the AOPA Foundation play an extremely critical role in helping take on GA’s most challenging issues.
More information on the Giving Back grant program is available online.
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A touch of history, affordable flying, unique sightseeing, a good meal, and a community of pilots: Isn’t that what general aviation is all about?
Getting the job done on the local and national levels requires long-term planning, a hands-on approach, and keeping the effort moving, said Sean Collins, AOPA’s Eastern regional manager.
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