Carmel Magazine

CM SP19 Web, 5-19

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C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • S P R I N G / S U M M E R 2 0 1 9 185 him." Tucker shares. "He enthusiastically said yes." Hoover was excited by Salinas-area resident Tucker's vision and passion for the Academy. "There's a huge issue with gangs and pover ty in Salinas," Tucker says. "These kids are DOA in regard to hope and self-esteem. They've been let down by the educational and judicial systems. But I'm a firm believer that in the United States your dreams are valid…no matter the color of your skin." Now in its fourth year, the Academy admits 20 students, grades 9-12. The concept is to motivate participants to engage in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics through the discipline of aviation. "Once you believe in these kids and give them something to believe in, they go places," Tucker avers. "This is hard work. The energy in the class- room is honest and elec- tric. These kids leave all the crap at the door. You'd never know that they live the kind of lives they live outside." The Academy works closely with the Monterey County Office of Education but as a 501(C)(3) is entirely self-sufficient. "We operate as leanly as possible and our dollars need to go a long way," Tucker explains. "I used my entire retirement program to get this off the ground. When you spend your own money first, you know how it Tucker's friend, actor and aviation enthusiast Harrison Ford, visited the Bob Hoover Academy last year. He was overcome with emotion by what he learned and has pledged to aid in fundraising efforts for the Academy. By learning aviation skills, students gain the confidence and self-assurance needed to excel and succeed in school and work lives. Photo: Stacey Wilson Photo: Marc Howard / TGO

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