MARCH Foundation Board Visits ECSU in Support of Training Future Pilots

March, 2024 | Categories: Board members, Philanthropy

Twenty MARCH Foundation Board Members traveled this month to visit Elizabeth City State University, where the next generation of aviation professionals are in training.

With its support, encouragement and funds, the foundation aims to shine a spotlight on the importance of investing in the future aviation workforce and preparing a more inclusive talent pool of pilots. Last year, MARCH gave ECSU $100K in support of its aviation program.

“We’re excited to continue supporting innovation at ECSU where the next generation of pilots and aviation leaders are pursuing their dreams,” said Eric Leufroy, MARCH Foundation board member who spent more than 34 years at UPS. Leufroy and fellow active and retired UPSers were hosted by the ECSU Division of Student Affairs and University Advancement.

MARCH stands for Mutual Alliance Restoring Community Hope. The foundation was launched 26 years ago to support the education of African American youth. Kenneth B. Jarvis, a longtime community business and civic leader, founded the group comprised of African American executive men, all of whom retired from United Parcel Service (UPS) and initially funded MARCH with their personal funds.

Through this partnership with MARCH, the university’s goal is to create a pipeline of opportunity for workforce readiness and preparedness for the students, according to Karrie G. Dixon, Ph.D., ECSU Chancellor.

“Partners like the MARCH Foundation dramatically enhance ECSU’s ability to attract and retain talent that fuels the aviation industry,” Dixon said. “Philanthropic generosity like this provides support to talented students when skyrocketing tuition is out of reach.”

ECSU is a Historically Black College and University (HBCU), and the only four-year aviation education program in North Carolina. ECSU’s offerings will address the Aviation Workforce Shortage and Needs, explained Dr. Kuldeep Rawat, Ph.D., Dean, School of Science, Aviation, Health & Technology.

Commercial air travel is forecasted to increase from annual enplanements of 858 million to about 1.3 billion by 2040. As a result, 264,000 new pilots are needed over the coming decade. African Americans and Women are heavily underrepresented in Aviation, Rawat said. According to Zippia, only 2.2% of airline pilots are Black.

MARCH board members are no strangers to breaking barriers.

Several members are featured in Black Voices from Big Brown: Untold Stories of African Americans at UPS. The award-winning book was created and produced by members of the UPS African American Business Resource Group (AABRG), Corporate Chapter. As such, students picked up leadership gems throughout the 1.5-day campus visit.

“The foundation of effective leadership is built on continuous learning and a desire to be better tomorrow than you were today,” said Sean Horton, a Flight Standards and Training Assistant Chief Pilot with UPS Airlines, who volunteered his time.

Horton took a UPS flight from Louisville, Ky. through Richmond, Va. to the Elizabeth City, NC, campus to join MARCH Board Members, including Joel Stenson, Senior Vice President of Operations Technology at UPS.

Aviation-specific leadership calls for a focus on critical thinking, dynamic decision-making, and calm under pressure, Horton said.

“It was a privilege to spend a day with literal [UPS] living legends and pioneers of our industry,” Horton added.

For a gallery of photos from the visit please see below

We support the education of African American youth.