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Rising to the challenge with flying colors

Nearly 4,400 donors enable the Ray Foundation’s matching grant for the You Can Fly Challenge

In what has been a challenging year for all fundraisers, AOPA Foundation supporters rose to the occasion and put their resources behind the important initiatives of the You Can Fly program.

Science teacher Doug Adomatis teaches aviation concepts to students at Greenville Technical Charter High School, a South Carolina high school utilizing the AOPA High School STEM curriculum. Photo by David Tulis.

Donations from nearly 4,400 individual supporters not only amounted to more than $2.7 million, but also secured a matching grant of $2.5 million from the Ray Foundation, generating a total of $5.2 million for You Can Fly.

“We are thrilled with a successful 2020 You Can Fly Challenge, exceeding our $2.5 million goal set forth by the Ray Foundation,” said Melissa Rudinger, executive director of the AOPA Foundation. “Despite the pandemic, our donors stepped up and demonstrated the importance and value of the You Can Fly program and general aviation. We cannot thank them enough for their support."

The You Can Fly program is funded by generous donations to the AOPA Foundation and is directly growing aviation through its four initiatives: High School, Flight Training, Flying Clubs, and Rusty Pilots.

The tremendous generosity of all donors this year has helped AOPA and You Can Fly progress toward our long-term goals of reaching 10,000 high school students a year with the High School Aviation STEM Curriculum, reducing the student pilot dropout rate and reaching 10,000 flight training students through the AOPA Flight Training Advantage app, growing the number of pilots in the AOPA Flying Club Network to more than 10,000, and getting 15,000 lapsed pilots back in the air.

“The Directors of Ray Foundation send a hearty Thank You! to AOPA members who contributed matching funds for the 2020 You Can Fly challenge grant,” said Chuck Ahearn, director and president of the Ray Foundation. “As You Can Fly enters its fifth year of operation, we remain very impressed with the program’s performance, momentum and broadening support. The future looks very bright and together we can ensure You Can Fly continues to climb on course.”

For the second year in a row, donor Stephen Elop provided the donation that took the challenge “over the top.”

“I am honored to lend my support to the You Can Fly Challenge,” said Elop. “Even during these challenging times, the AOPA Foundation has steered true to the mission of making flying more accessible and affordable, while helping people develop life skills through aviation.”

“Stephen is such a generous and important member of the AOPA Foundation family,” added Rudinger. “He sets a great example for all pilots.”

With the second half of the year in full swing, those involved in and passionate about GA are encouraged to keep the AOPA Foundation and You Can Fly in their end-of-year giving strategies.

“Ensuring the health and future of general aviation is a year-round endeavor,” explained Rudinger. “We have professionals at the AOPA Foundation who are ready and capable to help anyone looking to include the interests of general aviation in their end-of-year financial and estate strategies.”

Alyssa J. Miller

Eric Blinderman

Senior Director of Communications
Eric Blinderman is AOPA’s Senior Director of Communications. Eric joined AOPA in 2020 after several years at leading marketing/communications agencies in New York and is looking forward to putting his newly minted private pilot certificate to work.
Topics: AOPA Foundation, You Can Fly

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