Drone Flyers Academy (DFA) is the latest nonprofit organization to benefit from a $25,000 Coachella Valley Spotlight grant presented by the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation. The grant will provide equipment that will expand and enhance the growing workforce development provided by the nonprofit organization.
“After witnessing the growing demand for drone operators in multiple industries and seeing my students achieve successful careers, I created Drone Flyers Academy specifically targeted at delivering these skills to underserved and socioeconomically challenged individuals and communities,” said Skip Fredricks, Founder and CEO of DFA. “It’s so rewarding to know that graduates of this program are tripling their earning potential, sometimes even more, by having an FAA Certified Drone Pilot’s License.”
Prior to creating DFA, Fredricks worked for more than 25 years as a videographer in film and television, creating award-winning content for various media and entertainment companies. Fredricks transferred these skills into the field of drone cinematography, where he continued working in the private sector and quickly discovered there was a need for more certified drone operators and trainers. In 2016, he began serving as an instructor at the LATTC (Los Angeles Trade Technical College), Unmanned Vehicle University and Grossmont College.
“Learning about the potential of drone flying careers has been very interesting,” said Catharine Reed, Vice President of Charitable Programs for the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation. “It’s wonderful that Skip decided to base this nonprofit in the Coachella Valley where many people here can benefit.”
The Coachella Valley Spotlight grant will expand DFA’s fleet of training drones, plus provide practice drones, safety helmets and vests for each participant, which will allow students to continue training at home once the course is complete. Funds will also help DFA establish live stream flight lessons from the field to the computers and tablets, which will expand training options. Fredricks plans to train more instructors and expand the DFA courses to more Coachella Valley Cities.
“Drone video and photos are in demand more and more. This program is giving people a jumpstart to an exciting career,” said Jerry Upham, General Manager of Gulf California Broadcast Company, which owns and operates KESQ News Channel 3 and KPSP CBS Local 2.
Throughout the month of February, Drone Flyers Academy was featured on News Channel 3’s “Eye on the Desert,” in public service announcements and on kesq.com. To learn more about DFA visit www.droneflyersacademy.com.