2018 Takes Off As Boeing and United Airlines Fund Chicago nonprofit AeroStar to train youth fuel aviation talent pipeline

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As aviation industry faces pilot and skilled labor talent gap,  innovative engagement may be the answer.

The Boeing Company, United Airlines and other Chicago aviation organizations are putting their support behind a local non-profit that has an award-winning history of serving children and teens with educational aviation programs intended to increase the pipeline of diverse workers in an industry that is already beginning to face a major talent gap.

AeroStar Avion Institute, or AeroStar, will marks its 10th year of aerospace education in 2018. Its award-winning AeroStars Aviation Exploration programs are sending more kids soaring into aviation and aerospace interests than ever before.  AeroStar specializes in aviation curriculum development and program implementation for K-12 and provides support to youth and young adults looking to pursue careers in aerospace STEM. The organization has been featured in Forbes; its founder and leader has been on the TEDx Talks stage, received a Congressional Award and is a 2017 inductee into the Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame.

On December 12, 2017, AeroStar held its first “Winter Wings” holiday fundraiser to celebrate its spectacular accomplishments of 2017 and acknowledge the donors helping support its vision for 2018. The event kicked off its fundraising campaign for $250,000, and raised about half of that goal thanks to major gifts from four supporters.

The Boeing Company presented AeroStar founder, Tammera L. Holmes with a check in the amount of $75,000. The grant was awarded as a part of Boeing’s initiative to support cradle-to-career aviation and STEM engagement. United Airlines was also presented AeroStar with 34 open-ended airline tickets (valued at nearly $24,000) to take high school AeroStar students on a trip to one of Boeing’s manufacturing plants this spring.

Milhouse Charities, whose focus is on preparing youth for engineering careers, and Landrum & Brown, a global airport planning firm in Chicago, were also big donors of the evening, giving $10,000 and $5,000 respectively.  Each organization has committed to not simply providing funds, but also resources and support to assist AeroStar on their mission to impact change for Chicago area youth, and create employment opportunities for them in areas where people of color lack representation, Aviation and STEM.

AeroStar’s mission is to first, increase public understanding of the importance of aerospace education and training initiatives at the local, state and national levels, second, maximize academic achievement among minority students by providing strong, innovative academic tools that enhance their aptitude for learning and lastly to provide a support system for those interested in pursuing careers in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, particularly Aviation.

For more information or to Give Wings to Dreams, visit www.avioninstitute.org.

About the author / 

Toure Muhammad

Author Toure Muhammad is the head bean, publisher and chief strategist of Bean Soup Times. The Morehouse graduate has written front page cover stories for The Final Call and N’digo. He has been featured in the Chicago Reader, Upscale magazine, rolling out newspaper, and N’Digo magapaper. He’s been featured on Tavis Smiley’s radio show on NPR, on Chicago’s WBEZ (Chicago public radio), and many other radio shows.

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