I’d heard of the Youth Initiative Aviation Academy a couple years ago but I didn’t know much about them. That changed when a former student of St. Cloud State’s aviation program sent me this video:

Listening to Mamie Singleton talk about the things the Youth Initiative Aviation Academy has done to change lives is downright inspirational. Here’s one of the inspiring stories she told:

MAMIE SINGLETON: I knew of the impact of YIMA that it had on the community so I picked those states [Minnesota, Maryland and DC] so that young people in those communities would have access to YIMA, which have done very well. The city of Washington, DC, there’s a young man who had lost his mother tragically to a terminal illness and he’s from a group of 4, a family of 4. This young man was acting out. He was considered ADHD. He had all types of problems. After attending YIMA Academy, he got himself together. He was in school, no truancy. He was no longer a behavior problem. He went onto college and now, he’s graduating.

That isn’t the only thing that impressed me, though this story impressed me that YIAA’s mentorship program is reclaiming lives. That being said, there’s an urgency to this mentorship program. Again, Mamie Singleton tells that story eloquently:

INTERVIEWER: And that investment is one where you say we need to make?
MAMIE SINGLETON: Exactly because it pays at the front end and that’s with your time. When you talk about the cost and the support, a lot of volunteerism has occurred when we don’t have the money, and then also, we work collaboratively with other organizations within the community such as the Young Eagles to get the discovery flights because we still used to take the kids up and it cost about $200/hr. for a Cessna 172 and a flight and a ground school instructor. And here we teamed up with the Young Eagles and the kids get their discovery flight. So that’s a lot of money that’s shaved off the costs by people within the community… Dr. Johnson teaching in the class when they have a ground school instructor. You could easily pay $25-$30/hr. or more just to have that instruction. You have the instructor volunteering their time for the flight instructor at the hourly rate, the wages that you would pay for him to fly, plus the cost of the plane a lot of money.

People frequently talk about the importance of mentorships and broadening students’ horizons and diversity. This is all those things rolled into one program. Most importantly, it’s having a positive impact on these students. That story of that young man who was “considered ADHD” who started in YIMA after his mother tragically died from a terminal illness is certainly inspirational. It’s inspirational that he first got his anger issues under control. The fact that he’s now graduating from college just adds to this story’s inspiration.

Here’s some additional information about the Youth Initiative Mentoring Academies:


YIMA is a non-profit organization which develops and conducts specially focused academies for at-risk youth, to develop competence, increase confidence and recognize potential through engaging them in educational and leadership training while receiving role modeling and mentoring from selected adult participants enrolled in the same focused academy.


The YIAA is a rigorous program consisting of:

  1. Aviation Ground School Training conducted by FAA Certified Instructors.
  2. A Discovery Flight plus one hour of beginning, hands-on flight training.
  3. Leadership training and experiences through presentations of selected career options in aviation and at least one other career area represented by the adult mentors.
  4. Youth mentoring and role modeling from adult enrollees assigned to “partner” with one to two youth as a mentor in the program.


YIAA enrolls 20 youth, ages 8 to 19, for 13 weeks.
At the completion of the program, participants will:

  1. Have received hands-on experience in operating an aircraft
  2. Have developed a meaningful, positive growth relationship with two or more adult mentors, emphasizing study, setting goals, adult-youth constructive sharing, time management, inter-dependence and affirmation for positive inclusion.
  3. Have demonstrated individual and team leadership behaviors in planning, coordinating and decision making.
  4. Receive an official First Flight Certificate.
  5. Receive an official FAA Ground School Completion Certificate and log of accrued flight hour time.
  6. Receive a Youth Initiative Mentoring Academies (YIMA) Certificate.
  7. Have had a good time!

Thanks to Mamie Singleton’s vision for this program. Thanks, too, for the volunteers’ commitment to making an impact. They’re showing these at risk students that leadership and confidence make a profound difference. Most importantly, they’re helping students avoid a lifetime of heartbreak, humiliation and horrors.

This mentorship program is making a positive difference in young people’s lives. It’s essentially paid for by private donations and grants. Many of the people serving are volunteers. In short, it’s mentorship done right.

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2 Responses to “Mentorship done right”

  • Sylvia says:

    What an awesome program! Every one should try it. This women should be supported in all her efforts. This is what society need. To help our youth and police learn how to get along better and ease tension between them. What away to build great character and improve on skills in STEM and Life Skills. Have 90 year old mentors share wisdom.

  • Crimson Trace says:

    Well stated, Sylvia! Unfortunately, SCSU President Potter killed the aviation program and will not reconsider the decision. Chancellor Rosenstone will not order an investigation.

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