JetBlue has announced a collaborative initiative between the JetBlue Foundation and the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP) to introduce aviation careers to students traditionally under-represented in the field. This summer both organizations are working together to increase awareness of aviation-related careers through hands-on learning for minority students and girls, ages 14-18. Students will learn directly from pilots and other aviation professionals at JetBlue's airports, hangars and flight training centers in Boston; Fort Lauderdale; Long Beach/Los Angeles; New York; Orlando; San Juan, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
OBAP has facilitated the Aviation Career Education (ACE Academy) program for several years. With the help of a grant from the JetBlue Foundation, OBAP is able to bring the program to additional cities this year, introducing even more students to careers above and below the wing and in the airline's support centers. Nearly 200 students across JetBlue's six focus cities and the US Virgin Islands will be introduced to aviation. JetBlue pilots volunteer their time to coordinate these initiatives. In fact, many of the pilot coordinators and advisors were once students in ACE Academy initiatives and credit the program as the spark that ignited their interest in aviation.
"Many students are often discouraged from even dreaming about careers in the cockpit," said Eric Poole, assistant chief pilot, JetBlue and director of the JetBlue Foundation/OBAP ACE Academy initiative. "The key is access. OBAP and the JetBlue Foundation are working hard to increase access by introducing aviation to students, starting with a strong STEM base, as early as possible. We're trying to add diversity to the future talent pipeline."