FIRST Robotics Competition "Rookie" Teams Gain Access to Hands-On, STEM-Learning Opportunities with Help of 3-Year Grant

FIRST Sponsors and Individual Donors Pledge $1.3M Over Three Years to Nearly 200 High-School Robotics Teams

MANCHESTER, N.H., March 3, 2014FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a not-for-profit organization founded by inventor Dean Kamen to inspire young people’s interest in science and technology, announced today that 187 first-year, or “Rookie”, FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC®) teams will receive grants from FIRST Sponsors and individual donors totaling $1.3 Million over a period of three years. FIRST Sponsors and individual donors supporting the grant include: the Argosy Foundation; Lloyd F. Bean; Ursula M. Burns; DEKA Foundation; FedEx; Microsoft; United Technologies (UTC); and other anonymous individual donors. The FIRST Robotics Competition is one of four hands-on, mentor-based robotics programs available to students in grades K-12 as part of the FIRST Progression of Programs.

The 2013-2014 FIRST Robotics Competition Rookie Grant Program was created in order to provide support for new, or “Rookie,” robotics teams over their first three years of participation, and to allow for greater team sustainability. Rookie teams with a justifiable need for funding were invited to apply for the grant, which requires a 3-year, $7,000 commitment per team. Grant recipients will receive $4,000 in year one, $2,000 in year two, and $1,000 in year three. In return, grant recipients must make contributions that help the overall FIRST Community (such as compiling a “lessons learned” document following the team’s first season) in order to receive year two and three disbursements.

“Because of the generosity of these FIRST Sponsors and donors, nearly 200 new teams are able to participate in the FIRST Robotics Competition in the 2014 season,” said FIRST President, Donald E. Bossi, “That means more than 4,000 additional high-school students are getting hands-on exposure to science, technology, engineering, and math. If these companies and individuals hadn’t stepped up to support these young people, they may never have had the opportunity to do something like this. On behalf of all of us at FIRST, I’d like to thank the Sponsors for their generosity, and wish all of the Rookie teams the best of luck in their first season.”

The FIRST  Robotics Competition (FRC) is an annual competition which helps students to discover the excitement of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) and the rewards a career in STEM can bring. Approximately 68,000 high-school students from 17 countries will participate in the 2014 FRC competition.

In 1992, the FIRST Robotics Competition began with 28 teams and a single 14-by-14-foot playing field in a New Hampshire high-school gym. This season, a projected 2,720 teams – including 392 rookie teams – will participate. Fifty-four Regional competitions in the U.S., Canada, Israel, and Mexico, plus 40 District competitions, and four Qualifying Championship events, will culminate at the 2014 FIRST Championship at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, April 23-26. FIRST programs are spearheaded by more than 130,000 dedicated Volunteers worldwide, most of them professional engineers, scientists, and teachers who mentor the next generation of innovators. 

Media Contact:

Cheryl Walsh, FIRST 
Ph. 603-206-2460
Haley Dunn, FIRST
Ph. 603-206-2494