This fall, one of Airway Science for Kids’ program alumna, Karen Kuhlman, will begin her third year at Oregon State University in Corvallis. Though college is daunting for some young people—especially when they are the first in their family to attend—Kuhlman tackled the challenge with confidence. After all, she had just finished building an RV-12, FAA-certified airplane by hand in high school.
“I learned in early July that I was admitted to the professional engineering program at OSU, so I am now officially declared a mechanical engineering student!” said Kuhlman. “Airway Science for Kids’ TeenFlight program definitely influenced my decision to pursue this career. Though I am a first-generation, female, pre-engineering student, TeenFlight helped me build a strong foundation for the coursework.”
On October 5, Kuhlman will return to Portland for one night to join Airway Science for Kids’ 2nd Annual “Wings to Soar” Event, a special celebration of the young people—many of whom are low-income youth of color—whose lives have been positively impacted by the organization’s one-of-a-kind educational programs.
With 120 guests expected to attend, this is also a chance for Airway Science for Kids to reach a critical fundraising goal of $55,000—an achievement that is only possible with support from the community. To add to the evening’s excitement, an RV-12 aircraft hand built by TeenFlight students over 18 months will be auctioned off live at the event. Proceeds from the sale will be used to purchase a new plane kit for the next student cohort—an earned income revenue strategy that stands out as one of the most unique and innovative.
“Two years ago, our Board of Directors launched the Onward and Upward Project to ensure the long-term sustainability of the organization, and our community responded in ways that far exceeded my expectations. As a result, today we are evolving, expanding and continuing to raise the bar when it comes to STEM-based learning opportunities. The momentum is big,” said Chairman Johnell Bell.
21 years ago as an elementary school student, Bell attended Airway Science for Kids’ classroom program, an experience that sparked a lifetime commitment to leadership and service. Today Bell works as the Field Director for a U.S. Senator.
Airway Science for Kids was founded in 1992 by retired U.S. Air Force auditor, Robert (Bob) Strickland, a devoted youth advocate and community leader in Portland’s African American community. Strickland passed away in 2008 and left a powerful legacy: today the organization employs a diverse and dedicated staff alongside dozens of volunteers who deliver programs deeply rooted in critical thinking skills and hands-on learning activities, including building an actual RV-12 aircraft, flight simulation, and intergenerational mentorship provided by industry experts.
Though only 5% of STEM-related jobs in Oregon are currently filled by people of color, Airway Science for Kids is committed to increasing this percentage by continuing to engage underserved youth of color in our communities.
“At the start of my experience in TeenFlight, it was discouraging to be a minority in the hangar. Being one of only two girls in the program was also challenging! I was a bit self-conscious about my abilities. But I had such a strong support network in TeenFlight, I quickly felt like I belonged. It was a great confidence booster to learn that I could thrive in any environment,” said Kuhlman.
About Airway Science for Kids, Inc.
AirwayScience for Kids’ mission is to expose youth, especially those who are socially and economically challenged, to activities that inspire their interest and growth toward higher learning and careers in aerospace, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
With support from individual donors as well as Oregon’s most influential foundations, including Meyer Memorial Trust, Collins Foundation, Oregon Community Foundation, Maybelle Clark Macdonald Fund, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, and many others, Airway Science for Kids provides primary and secondary school students with opportunities to build skills in core academic subjects, while also exciting their imaginations in a uniquely compelling way: through flight.
TITLE: Second Annual “Wings to Soar” Celebration Event
DATE: Wednesday, October 5, 2016
TIME: 5:30 - 8:30 PM PT
LOCATION: NW Natural, 220 NW 2nd Ave, 7th Floor, Portland, OR 97209
PRICE: $50 per ticket, dinner and wine included