Above the Clouds Inc.

Where Kids take Flight

Norwood, MA   |  abovethecloudskids.org

Mission

Above the Clouds brings joy and hope through the wonder of flight to children and teens who have a serious illness or disability, are underserved, or facing other serious adversity. ATC’s programs provide important relief for kids under tremendous stress and inspire disengaged youth to participate in making their dreams come true. The non-profit, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization accomplishes its mission through its four programs: Dream Flyers, Cadet Flyers, Discovery Flyers, and our NEW Dream Flyover Program. Our squadron of volunteer pilots and dedicated volunteers make it all possible. Above the Clouds is headquartered and flies out of Norwood Memorial Airport in Norwood, Massachusetts. ATC has provided flights from other airports, including Marshfield and Lawrence MA, and Laconia,NH

Ruling year info

2013

Executive Director

Ms. Susan Tufts Kagan

Main address

Norwood Memorial Airport 125 Access Road

Norwood, MA 02062 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

46-1611467

NTEE code info

Youth Development Programs (O50)

Family Services (P40)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Blog

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

In 2020, COVID-19 presented a major obstacle in terms of continuous programming, but we became inspired to start a new program that would bring Joy and Hope in a novel way (read about the Dream Flyovers Program below.) Additionally, like many other charitable organizations, ATC experienced a significant decline in contributions and all of ATC's funding from its airline partners was halted after March. ATC has kept in close contact with these airlines and has been assured that funding will resume once the pandemic has abated. Remarkably, ATC has a loyal donor constituency and, despite the challenges of 2020, most have continued to provide financial, in-kind, and volunteer support in an effort to continue our mission to bring joy and hope through the wonder of flight.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Dream Flyers

The Dream Flyers Program is a special way to bring joy and hope to children who are facing all kinds of serious adversity. For seriously ill children, Above the Clouds delivers a unique kind of medicine — programming designed to build anticipation and excitement for a special, joyful experience flying (actually taking the controls!) in the co-pilot’s seat of a small airplane or helicopter. Young patients eagerly look forward to completing their hospital stay/treatment and receiving clearance from their medical team to take off on a Dream Flight. Similarly, children who are disabled, underprivileged, experiencing homelessness, suffering from the loss of a family member, or facing other serious adversity, benefit from a Dream Flight. Dream Flyers anticipate a joyful experience on Flight Day and feel hopeful just when things might seem hopeless.

Population(s) Served
At-risk youth
People with diseases and illnesses
People with disabilities
Economically disadvantaged people

Discovery Flyers Program In this program, teenagers are introduced to aviation by Discovery Pilot mentors. Discovery Flyers have the opportunity to fly regularly with their Discovery Pilots. During these flights, the young Flyers are given the opportunity to fly the plane from the co-pilot’s seat. In addition, Discovery Flyers attend periodic aviation field trips and are encouraged to help out on Dream Flight Days.

Population(s) Served
Multiracial people
Preteens
Adolescents
At-risk youth
Economically disadvantaged people

The Cadet Flyers Program is a direct response to the growing number of young people who are either falling through the cracks at school or are involved with social service agencies due to poverty issues or difficult home situations. The drop-out rate in the Boston Public Schools, for example, is 16%. Schools and social service agencies have been searching, often without success, for that elusive motivational tool that will serve as the conduit to encourage these teens to apply themselves, stay in school, achieve and follow a path toward a better future. Above the Clouds steps in to provide that missing motivational tool — the “coolness” of flight and the allure of learning to fly an airplane. Above the Clouds uniquely provides this programing on a cost-free basis for teens in need.

Population(s) Served
Low-income people
At-risk youth
Adolescents
Multiracial people

After starting 2020 with an amazing January Dream Flight Day for a group of kids from Dedham, ATC’s regular activities came to a grinding halt in March. But when the COVID-19 pandemic forced ATC to postpone kids’ Dream Flights this spring, we pivoted to offer “Dream Flyovers” to bring the flights to the kids. We changed from operating as an airport-based program, to a “road and air show”. Local firefighters and police generously partnered with Above the Clouds’ to add a Drive-by component to the planned Flyovers to create full ground-to-air friendship missions. Since April, the Dream Flyovers / Drive-bys have benefited more than 200 children in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The Flyovers helped keep their hope alive and planted the seeds for kids to envision themselves as a Dream Flyer, Discovery Flyer or Cadet Flyer when it is safe for Above the Clouds to resume airport-based programming.

That was the summary, but the equally important story of the ATC Dream Flyovers is that, more than at any other time, the Flyovers validated ATC’s belief in the transformational power of joy, and the enormous impact a small act of kindness can make… on everyone involved. 2020 created enormous stress, along with widespread yearning for joy. As major airlines cut flights, the Dream Flyovers gave ATC the privilege to offer hundreds of people a chance to experience joy through aviation in action.

Population(s) Served
Children
Multiracial people
People with disabilities
People with diseases and illnesses
Economically disadvantaged people

Where we work

Affiliations & memberships

Philanthropy MA 2021

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Average number of service recipients per month

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Social and economic status, Age groups, Health, Family relationships

Related Program

Dream Flyovers

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

youth ages 6-18

Number of free participants on field trips

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of children and teens who have expressed an interest in aviation and pursuing a career in aviation or STEM fields.

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Increasing

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

In the Dream Flyer program we strive to bring joy into the lives of children whose lives have been challenged by adversities like serious, chronic illness or disabilities.  We have been informed by families that the Dream Flight experience has had a lasting, positive impact on the lives of our Dream Flyers.  In the Cadet Flyer program, our aim is to provide a motivational tool (learning to fly) as a conduit to encourage at risk teens to apply themselves, stay in school, achieve, and follow a path toward a better future.  In the Discovery Flyers Program, teens fly with pilot mentors regularly. The goals of this program are identical to those of the Cadet Flyers Program.

In the Dream Flyer program, we measure our success by having follow up discussions with each family after Dream Flight Day.  In our Cadet Flyers and Discovery Flyers Programs, progress is monitored by maintaining ongoing conversations with school guidance counselors, teachers and social workers. An Impact Study (survey that measures level of developmental assets) is currently being conducted.

An overhaul of the Cadet program is essential. We will shift from a ground based flight school to a parter organization that focuses on all of the aviation related STEM fields for teens and young adults. Scholarships and support will be provided to Cadets to pursue careers in aviation; including becoming a pilot or CFI, aerial photography, engineering, mechanics, airport management, aeronautics, etc..

Presently Above the Clouds has ten full- time employees. Executive Director, Susan Tufts Kagan, has more than 20 years experience in working with youth at risk and teens of all abilities. Program Coordinators are in the process of being created, so that the ED can focus on strategic initiatives like the Cadet program. Partnerships must be built and an analysis of the efficiencies of ATC programs has begun. Founders Gary and Martha Oberstein built a fantastic organization with many ambassadors and a strong mission. Now, the organization has set in place a structure in which the organization can grow under experienced non-profit leadership.

For nearly ten years Above the Clouds has used aviation as a tool to provide joy, hope, and inspiration to children facing adversity. We have touched the lives of more than 1,000 Flyers and their families. COVID presented new challenges in 2020, but we were COMMITTED to carrying on our mission and you can read about how we "pivoted" below.

After starting 2020 with an amazing January Dream Flight Day for a group of kids from Dedham, ATC's regular activities came to a grinding halt in March. But when the COVID-19 pandemic forced ATC to postpone kids' Dream Flights this spring, we pivoted to offer "Dream Flyovers" to bring the flights to the kids. We changed from operating as an airport-based program, to a "road and air show". Local firefighters and police generously partnered with Above the Clouds' to add a Drive-by component to the planned Flyovers to create full ground-to-air friendship missions. Since April, the Dream Flyovers / Drive-bys have benefited more than 200 children in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. The Flyovers helped keep kids' hope alive and planted the seeds for kids to envision themselves as Dream Flyers, Discovery Flyers or Cadet Flyers when it is safe for Above the Clouds to resume airport-based programming. That was the summary, but the equally important story of the ATC Dream Flyovers is that, more than at any other time, the Flyovers validated ATC's belief in the transformational power of joy, and the enormous impact a small act of kindness can make... on everyone involved. 2020 created enormous stress, along with widespread yearning for joy. As major airlines cut flights, the Dream Flyovers gave ATC the privilege to offer hundreds of people a chance to experience joy through aviation in action.

Above the Clouds has resumed regular Dream and Discovery Flyer programming in 2021 under new leadership. The Dream Flyovers were enormously successful and impactful, so these will be added as a permanent program moving forward. The Cadet Flyers Program is being redesigned and will be implemented in 2022.

Financials

Above the Clouds Inc.
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
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  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Above the Clouds Inc.

Board of directors
as of 06/16/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Dr. Reid Maclellan

Contina Health

Term: 2017 - 2023

Gary Oberstein

Nixon Peabody, LLP

Brendan Feitelberg

Financial Consultant

Reid Maclellan

Contina Health

Daniel Schrager

Community Volunteer

James Andersen

FM-Associates

Ken Hertz

JetBlue

Tara D'Alessandro

Experian

Kate Cronk

Southern NH Health

David Hampson

Aviation Insurance Company

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Not applicable
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 10/15/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person with a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

Disability

Equity strategies

Last updated: 10/15/2021

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.