Get extra lift from AOPA. Start your free membership trial today! Click here

2019 You Can Fly Challenge opens

Ray Foundation offers $2 million in matching funds

What if you could boost the general aviation pilot population and open career doors for aspiring pilots while knowing that every dollar you donate will have double its usual impact?

Photo by David Tulis.

A special opportunity to make such a high-performance contribution awaits donors who contribute to the Ray Foundation’s challenge: For every dollar the AOPA Foundation raises to fund the You Can Fly program by Aug. 31, 2019, the Ray Foundation will match it up to $2 million, for a potential total of $4 million.

The You Can Fly program is getting and keeping more pilots flying with initiatives to introduce youth to aviation, improve the flight training experience, support flying clubs, and help lapsed pilots complete their flight review.

Generous donors who contribute to the AOPA Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, will strengthen GA by growing our pilot ranks, giving us strength in numbers as an aviation community, as well as for advocacy purposes.

This is the fourth year that the Ray Foundation has extended a challenge grant to the AOPA Foundation to provide major funding for You Can Fly. The 2019 challenge to raise $2 million in donations for a dollar-for-dollar matching grant is an increase over last year’s $1.4 million challenge. In 2018, donors rose to the challenge and contributed more than $1.8 million, and then the Ray Foundation generously increased its matching grant to $1.8 million, for a total of more than $3.6 million in funding.

The Ray Foundation set its higher matching goal for 2019 in recognition of the outstanding performance of the You Can Fly program. The grant honors the memory of founder James C. Ray (1923–2017), a pilot and entrepreneur whose life experience taught him that personal flight training develops skills that help students succeed not just in aviation, but in many other aspects of life.

“James promoted by example the values of self-discipline, hard work, and responsibility for one’s own actions. His life’s work lives on through the You Can Fly program,” said AOPA President Mark Baker.

The continuing success of the You Can Fly program was evident as 2018 drew to a close. By year’s end there were more than 2,500 students at more than 100 classrooms benefiting from the You Can Fly program’s aviation-based high school curriculum. In 2018, AOPA recognized 83 flight schools and 128 individual instructors with Flight Training Experience Awards based on more than 6,300 responses to the annual Flight Training Experience Survey. The 37 flying clubs launched with the help of You Can Fly’s Flying Club initiative in 2018 brought the program’s total to 102 since inception in 2015—helping to make flying more accessible, affordable, and enjoyable. The Rusty Pilots initiative forged ahead in 2018 with more than 5,500 pilots attending 175 Rusty Pilots seminars, while 800 others completed the new Rusty Pilots online course.

“Without James Ray’s visionary support, along with the continued generosity of the Ray Foundation and all of the AOPA Foundation’s donors, the You Can Fly program would not have the resources to produce these results,” said AOPA Foundation Vice President Jennifer Storm.

AOPA appreciates the vote of confidence the Ray Foundation has cast in You Can Fly with its 2019 challenge, and we hope you will join in supporting the programs that help pilots in all phases of their life adventure in aviation. It is your generous donations that keep the momentum going—and all pilots benefit from that.

The Ray Foundation also has granted an additional $1 million to fund 100 You Can Fly High School Flight Training Scholarships. The awards will consist of 80 scholarships of $10,000 each for students and 20 scholarships of $10,000 each for teachers who are introducing youth to aviation.

For more information or to contribute to the 2019 You Can Fly Challenge, visit the AOPA Foundation website.

Dan Namowitz
Dan Namowitz
Dan Namowitz has been writing for AOPA in a variety of capacities since 1991. He has been a flight instructor since 1990 and is a 35-year AOPA member.
Topics: AOPA Foundation, You Can Fly, Scholarship

Related Articles