FIRST LEGO League Gains John Deere as Global Sponsor, Expanding Commitment to Inspire Future Innovators

MANCHESTER, N.H., September 3, 2019 FIRST® LEGO® League has gained a new global sponsor in John Deere, FIRST announced today. Deere will increase its total financial support of the robotics community, which prepares young people for the future, to approximately $850,000 annually, including the global sponsorship of FIRST LEGO League as well as ongoing support for FIRST team grants, events, programs, employee volunteer engagement, and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion initiatives.

“John Deere’s support assists FIRST in inspiring innovators and increasing access to STEM literacy for young people,” said Pat Barnes, global program director, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) & youth education, at Deere. “This includes encouraging participation in STEM curriculum for students who are underserved and underrepresented.”

As a FIRST LEGO League Global Sponsor for the 2019-2020 season, John Deere will help support an international program that gives students the chance to apply STEM concepts to solve a real-world problem. In North America, the program involves students 9-14 years old while outside North America, it includes students 9-16 years old.

The 2019-2020 FIRST LEGO League CITY SHAPERSM Challenge, which kicked off in August, tasks students with completing a city-themed challenge designed in partnership with architects and engineers.

“John Deere exemplifies what we look for in our strategic partners,” said Donald E. Bossi, president of FIRST. “We’re fortunate to have the support of John Deere’s leadership and workforce in inspiring and engaging young people to innovate and help solve global challenges. Together, FIRST and John Deere are building a better future.”

Deere creates advanced products and services that help meet important challenges such as feeding the world’s dramatically increasing population as well as constructing the infrastructure needed to support ever-increasing urbanization around the globe.

“Deere recognizes the need to support the innovators who will provide the necessary answers in dealing with these new problems,” Barnes said. “Our work with FIRST supports K-12 student participation in the FIRST community, which inspires innovation and leadership through engaging, hands-on robotics challenges developed to ignite curiosity and passion in young people. Students build valuable STEM literacy, teamwork, project management, and problem-solving skills – skills that all students need for the future.”

In 2011, John Deere began its involvement with FIRST by supporting 45 teams in the United States. John Deere became a FIRST Strategic Partner in 2017. For the recent 2018-2019 season, John Deere supported more than 700 new and returning FIRST teams in its global home communities, including 20 U.S. states and Canada, Mexico, Brazil, and India.

Deere also supports K-12 FIRST programs through team grants and approximately 300 employee volunteers who help guide, inspire and support students as FIRST team coaches and mentors. This year, John Deere sent 33 teams to the 2019 FIRST Championship in Houston and Detroit.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is an international not-for-profit organization founded in 1989 by inventor Dean Kamen to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators. For more information about FIRST programs, visit For sponsorship opportunities, please contact


About FIRST®
Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With support from over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies and more than $80 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition for students in Grades 9-12; FIRST® Tech Challenge for Grades 7-12; FIRST® LEGO® League for Grades 4-8; and FIRST® LEGO® League Jr. for Grades K-4. Gracious Professionalism® is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. To learn more about FIRST, go to