Supporting Academy priorities

By Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Mike Gould ’76, USAFA Endowment President & CEO

The long-term mission of the United States Air Force Academy Endowment is to enhance academic excellence, strengthen character and leadership development and honor the rich heritage of the Academy.

We exist only to raise private donations for Air Force Academy initiatives not covered by the government. The commitment and generosity shown by Academy supporters has enabled the Endowment to provide broad philanthropic support for Academy initiatives resulting in more than $159 million raised since 2007. This accomplishment reveals a thoughtful and coordinated commitment to the advancement of the Academy and to an investment in the future of our nation.

Superintendent Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria ’85 has his finger on the pulse of the Academy, ensuring that today’s cadets are well prepared to be leaders in the modern profession of arms. Throughout his first year, we have worked closely with him and his staff to refine the Academy’s short-term and long-term priorities across all mission elements. The Endowment’s family of alumni donors, foundations, corporations and friends share in the superintendent’s vision.

The Academy’s priorities shape our strategic focus and determine the approach we take to secure private contributions. So that you have a deeper understanding of where the Academy can most benefit from your support, please consider the following. 

Flexible Support

The Endowment has unrestricted funds that Academy leadership can use quickly to strengthen foundational cadet programs. The Air Force Academy Fund and the Superintendent’s Discretionary Fund provide key support for a variety of programs, including international immersion, graduate services and leadership and development programs.

2nd Lt. Jaspreet Singh ’18 had opportunities to do summer research on unmanned aerial vehicles, study abroad at the French Air Force Academy and receive mentoring through the Academy’s Graduate Studies Program on his path to becoming the Academy’s 39th Rhodes scholar.

“I definitely would not have gotten the scholarship without the quality of faculty we have here,” Singh says. “I’ve had opportunities at the Academy that I wouldn’t have had anywhere else.”

Gifts to unrestricted funds provide cadets like Singh with opportunities that maximize academic excellence and leadership development.

Academic Excellence

The Air Force Academy is a top academic institution, offering 27 majors and providing cadets with opportunities to do graduate-level research in 21 research centers and institutes.

The Academy has graduated more than 50,000 well-trained officers who were primed for success in military service and beyond. Graduates include current Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson '82, five Air Force chiefs of staff, 39 astronauts, 39 Rhodes scholars, 737 general officers and countless CEOs and corporate executives in the private sector.

Susan Helms ’80 took her Academy training to new heights, becoming a celebrated NASA astronaut, serving on five Space Shuttle missions and living aboard the International Space Station.

“I never really thought about being an astronaut when I was a kid. I probably didn’t think that because women were not in the astronaut program at that point in my life,” she says. “If you don’t feel that you do have barriers, then what you can accomplish becomes ever so much more expansive.” Helms retired in 2014 as a lieutenant general.

The Endowment is contributing to cadet success by removing academic barriers and bolstering the academic foundations of the Academy. Support ranges from Falcon Foundation scholarships to assist with academic preparations to cadet summer research projects and endowed chairs to attract the best faculty. It also includes facilities like the new Center for Cyber Innovation and modern library enhancements.

Warrior Ethos

Academy graduate, fighter pilot and Vietnam POW Capt. Lance Sijan embodied the warrior ethos, posthumously receiving the Medal of Honor for his courage under fire.

“Capt. Sijan’s honor, courage and indefatigable will to prevail define the fundamental character of what it means to be an airman,” Silveria says. “As we prepare our cadets for the modern profession of arms, his spirit must reverberate across our campus. His legacy must never fade.”

Cadets are expected to embrace an uncompromising warrior ethos, committed to defending our nation by being the best in air, space and cyberspace warfare. The Academy develops strong leaders through a variety of programs coordinated through the Center for Character and Leadership Development and participation in academic capstone competitions. Cadets also gain leadership experience through their participation in cadet activities and clubs.

Graduates also know from experience the importance of leadership training on “the fields of friendly strife.” The Endowment provides avenues of support for the renovation of Falcon Stadium, athletic team endowments and cadet athletic clubs. Support for programs that help build cadets into warriors are foundational to the success of the Academy.

Graduates and Heritage

USAFA graduates take pride in their Academy heritage. As war fighters, they share a unique bond with airmen who flew with the Lafayette Escadrille and Doolittle’s Raiders, as well as those who battled for control of the skies over Korea, Vietnam, Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

The Academy grounds are enhanced with moving memorials that pay tribute to Air Force heroes and USAFA heritage, including the Challenge Bridge, Southeast Asia Memorial Pavilion, USAFA Graduate War Memorial and others that were largely or completely funded by Academy graduates through the Association of Graduates.

These permanent reminders will be supplemented by expanded Academy archives and an oral history initiative to provide a fuller examination of the Academy’s influence. Graduates and friends are honoring past, present and future cadets by contributing to heritage-building programs that include the Long Blue Line Endowment, post-graduate scholarships, Gone But Not Forgotten and the extensive chapel renovation that is scheduled to begin in 2019.

We encourage Academy grads to stand with the Endowment, contributing to the excellence of the Academy and cadets. An annual gift to the Air Force Academy Fund, a bequest set up in a will, or a donation to endow a laboratory or a professorship all add up to make the Academy a gateway to success for those who have been called to serve the Air Force and our nation.




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