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You Can Fly Challenge tops its goalYou Can Fly Challenge tops its goal

Generous donors exceed AOPA Foundation expectationsGenerous donors exceed AOPA Foundation expectations

More than $2.8 million was contributed to the 2019 AOPA You Can Fly Challenge by the time it ended on Aug. 31.

Generous donations to 2019 AOPA You Can Fly Challenge exceeded expectations and combined with a $2.5 grant from the Ray Foundation for a total of $5.3 million in funding for You Can Fly programs. Photo by Chris Rose.

More than 5,000 individual donors helped fund life-changing opportunities that the You Can Fly program brings to aviation and the pilot community across the country.

“The You Can Fly program’s performance is truly outstanding, and based on the fundraising results, our fellow aviators agree it’s a worthwhile investment to help others develop life skills through aviation and grow our pilot ranks,” said Chuck Ahearn, president of the James C. Ray Foundation.

The 2019 challenge exceeded expectations and, because of the amount raised, the Ray Foundation voted to increase its matching grant to $2.5 million, combining with other donor contributions a total of more than $5.3 million in new funding for You Can Fly.

Illustration by John Ueland

The Ray Foundation has for the past four years extended a challenge grant to the AOPA Foundation to provide major support for You Can Fly. The 2019 challenge set out to raise $2 million in donations for a dollar-to-dollar matching grant. The AOPA Foundation supports the work of the You Can Fly program, which champions flying clubs, encourages best practices in flight training, gets lapsed pilots back in the air, brings AOPA’s resources and expertise to pilot groups across the country, and helps high school students learn more about careers in aviation.

“Our donors continue to amaze me,” said Jennifer Storm, vice president of the AOPA Foundation. “We asked for their support to help build a stronger pilot community and they stepped up by making generous contributions that will help more people become pilots, continue flying, or get back into flying.

“When a number of larger donations were made in the final days of August, we were incredibly grateful that the Ray Foundation was willing to consider a proposal to increase their matching grant,” Storm said.

The 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 the Ray Foundation increased its matching grant to $1.8 million for a total of more than $3.6 million in funding.

The 2019 You Can Fly challenge results were announced at the AOPA Fly-In at Tullahoma, Tennessee, on Sept. 14.

Julie Walker

Julie Summers Walker

AOPA Senior Features Editor
AOPA Senior Features Editor Julie Summers Walker joined AOPA in 1998. She is a student pilot still working toward her solo.
Topics: You Can Fly, AOPA Foundation

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