The program will promote opportunities for internships and fellowship with major airlines in the industry. Through a partnership with the MARCH Foundation, the university’s goal is to create a pipeline of opportunity for workforce readiness and preparedness amongst students. ECSU offers the only four-year Aviation Science degree program in North Carolina.

“We’re excited to support Elizabeth City State as they prepare the next generation of pilots and leaders in the aviation industry,” said Eric Leufroy, a MARCH Foundation board member. “We know how expensive education is today, and we want to help students succeed and pursue their dreams.” 

Investing in the future aviation workforce is key. The gift helps to prepare a more inclusive talent pool of pilots, and to inspire the next generation of aviation professionals, Leufroy said.

Only 2.2% of airline pilots are Black, according to Zippia.  Data also shows the average pilot is a 45-year-old white male, with a bachelor’s degree, earning about $102,560. In addition to pilot training, ECSU offers concentrations in avionics, aviation management, flight education, air traffic control and unmanned aircraft systems (e.g., drones).

ECSU Chancellor Dr. Karrie G. Dixon noted ECSU received the generous gift from the MARCH Foundation on its 7th Annual Day of Giving, April 28. “This $75,000 gift will be used to support our students and the state’s only four-year aviation science degree program now and, in the future,” she said.

Philanthropic donations like this one make a tremendous impact, according to Gary Brown, Ph.D., vice chancellor for University Advancement and Student Affairs.

“As ECSU thrives as a leader in aviation science education for the citizens of North Carolina and beyond, the generous gift from the MARCH Foundation will prepare more scholars to serve as skilled pilots, educators, air traffic controllers and more. Partners like the MARCH Foundation dramatically enhance ECSU’s ability to attract and retain talent that fuels the aviation industry,” Brown said.

MARCH, which stands for Mutual Alliance Restoring Community Hope, was launched to support the education of African American youth. Kenneth B. Jarvis, a longtime community business and civic leader, founded the group more than 25 years ago.

MARCH Foundation’s board members — all African American, executive men who retired from UPS — initially funded the organization with their personal funds. The foundation distributed more than $2 million in grants and scholarships, impacting more than 2,000 students to date.

ECSU’s Aviation Science program boasts five areas of specialization: Flight Education; Aviation Management; Avionics; Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) and Professional Aeronautics. Enrollment in the program totals more than 180 students, with a nearly 60 % minority student population. Moreover, ECSU is one of only 42 institutions worldwide to offer an aviation degree program accredited by the Aviation Accreditation Board International (AAB International).

For more information on the MARCH Foundation, visit