The generous gift will enable You Can Fly to introduce more high school students to rewarding career opportunities in aviation through its free science, technology, engineering, and math curriculum, which has already opened doors and minds for tens of thousands of young people across the country.
“AOPA is grateful for Williams International’s support. We have a shared interest in building general aviation and making flying viable for generations to come,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “AOPA and Williams International are always at the forefront of what’s next for aviation, and the generosity of partners like Williams makes the AOPA Foundation’s You Can Fly initiative and its tremendous impact possible.”
Williams International CEO Gregg Williams announced the gift and said that he is living proof that teaching our youth about aviation can spark a lifelong passion, a terrific career, and the ability to make an impact.
“We have always been a leader in advancing education through a combination of apprenticeships, our internal education program, the aviation industry’s best rotational engineering program, and our WINGS flight training program. This donation to You Can Fly supports this vision, as it’s a significant step to help high school students get a head start in careers in aviation,” Williams said.
Launched nationwide during the 2017–2018 school year, the You Can Fly High School Aviation STEM Curriculum is developed and continually enhanced by an expert team composed of veteran teachers, curriculum professionals, pilots, and flight instructors. The courses are designed to capture the imagination and give students from diverse backgrounds the tools to pursue advanced education and careers in aviation and other STEM-related fields. The curriculum, video-based professional development, and ongoing teacher and program support are provided to schools free of charge.
In the current school year, more than 14,000 students are enrolled in 44 states—in all four high school grades. The initiative directly supports AOPA’s goal to increase inclusion in aviation; AOPA is proud that 40 percent of students in the program come from minority backgrounds, 21 percent are female, and 54 percent attend mid- to high-poverty schools. The program recently celebrated its first graduates, 58 percent of whom reported that they plan to pursue aviation-related careers in fields such as piloting, aerospace engineering, and maintenance.
Since its launch, the initiative is making tangible strides in addressing a well-documented and looming aviation workforce shortage in the United States. The latest Boeing report suggests a need for 602,000 new pilots and 610,000 new maintenance technicians over the next 20 years.
The High School Aviation STEM Curriculum is one pillar of You Can Fly, whose mission is to get more pilots in the skies and keep them there safely. You Can Fly also supports the development of flying clubs to keep flying accessible and affordable; encourages best practices in flight training; and helps lapsed pilots to get back in the air.
The You Can Fly program is funded by charitable donations to the AOPA Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization. To be a part of the solution, visit www.aopafoundation.org/donate.