February's Coachella Valley Spotlight grant of $ 25,000 from the H.N & Frances C. Berger Foundation goes to the local nonprofit Drone Flyers Academy.
It’s a chance for students to take flight. DFA gives hands-on drone flight training to underserved communities in the valley.
Sebastian Galve was one of the students who participated in the academy’s Drone Boot Camp.
“What it means to me is opening new things and discovering new things, to have fun and find out what you want to do," said Galve. “It's just really crazy to me that this is now something that I like, and it's gonna be a big hobby of mine."
At boot camp, students get an introduction to drones, from fundamental flight training to drone racing demos. The founder of DFA, Skip Fredricks, has been a filmmaker for more than 20 years. However, he said drones offer careers beyond the film set.
“There's opportunities in this industry for anybody that would want to take this course or any kid that would want to start out," said Fredricks. "Inspecting windmills, solar panels, power line inspection, agricultural inspection, search and rescue are some of the big things that drones do that really can be incorporated right here in the Coachella Valley.”
The Berger Foundation’s Spotlight grant of $25,000 will be invested in creating more Drone Boot Camps. Also, making sure each student leaves with their own drone and safety equipment.
“The application of drone technology in every facet of our life is a reality is about to
explode," said drone pilot/instructor Eric Ruiz. "At least expose [students] to, you know, what it is that we're doing, and in the give them an opportunity to enter the industry.”
Inspiring students by helping them realize dreams they never thought were possible.
“There's so many opportunities to do that involve drones. And you never know, one day you could find yourself in a team in a TV commercial using a drone. And it's just really inspiring," said Galve.