The FIRST in Texas grant opportunity is all about helping kids get access to participate on a FIRST robotics team and related competitions. Early exposure to robotics, especially when it’s fun, is the first step to helping graduating students choose to either join the workforce in a skilled trade or attend college and major in a STEM field.
Robotics programs don’t just need creativity and hard work. They also need funding. The FIRST in Texas Grant Program can be the first step to help your team gather the resources, tools, and traveling funds you need to ensure your team keeps learning.
What Are FIRST in Texas Grants?
Grants are awarded by the FIRST in Texas Foundation on behalf of grantors like the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), Dell, Qualcomm and others. Each grant has a focus directed by the grantor. For example:
- Texas Workforce Commission Grant: This is for high school teams in underserved communities. This includes teams on military bases, in home school cooperative groups, and in rural areas.
- Dell Grant: These funds are for teams with underrepresented female or minority students. The grant is designed to help these students make a difference in their communities.
- Qualcomm Grant: Qualcomm is a worldwide FIRST® sponsor and is providing grant funds for teams in the Austin area.
These grants that are designed to help robotics teams get the resources they need to learn, compete, travel, and build up their team for future years. Stay up to date by checking the website frequently, glancing through our site updates, or subscribing to the newsletter for updates.
4 Key Benefits
Grants are an excellent resource for robotics teams in financially underserved school districts and regions. Not only is the application process simple, receiving a grant can establish a strong foundation for your school’s team. Four key benefits of FIRST in Texas grants are:
- Additional Funding: The primary benefit of receiving a FIRST in Texas grant is increased funding. If you’re concerned about your team’s ability to compete in events or afford robotics equipment, a grant will help.
- Connections to Community Sponsors and Industry Leaders: All of the FIRST in Texas grant sponsors are invested in their communities and the success of the team they sponsor. Students can communicate and form connections with local technology companies. This can lead to more individual networking opportunities and internships in college.
- Annual Planning: FIRST in Texas grants have a three-round cycle. Decisions are made within a week of the application deadline, and grant checks are processes by approximately one month about each round’s notifications are complete. That means you can receive confirmation of your grant approval quickly to start planning the upcoming season’s calendar and budget.
- Team Engagement: Every grant requires the completion of an End of Season Report. This can help your team develop project management and communication skills. This also provides our grantors detailed information on the team’s they serve.
What Costs Do FIRST in Texas Grants Cover?
Grants from different sponsors have different restrictions and payment mechanisms. TWC grants, for example, often pay AndyMark, FIRST®, and REV Robotics fees directly. TWC grant funds can also be used to reimburse specific expenses, such as equipment, components, and event fees.
Other sponsors distribute grant money in the form of a single check. Non-TWC grants can cover a broader range of expenses, such as general robotics equipment and parts, event fees, travel, and food. The funds can also be used for marketing materials. Specific details are included in each grant approval email and documentation inside your Submittable account.
How Easy Is the Application Process?
The application process is simple. While some sponsors may require an additional document or two, all of them use the same application and application process. You don’t have to create a brand new account or application for every sponsor. However, if you do coach multiple teams, every team will need its own application.
It opens on August 15th, and the Round One applications are due by September 8th. While there are three rounds of applications, it is highly recommended you apply for Round One. If for some reason your application is declined or has an error, that means you have two more rounds to try again.
How to Apply for a FIRST in Texas Grant*
The application process includes these steps:
1. Make a (free!) Submittable account.
This is the site that hosts the grant application. Make an account today and familiarize yourself with the layout.
2. Fill out the simple application form once it’s open.
The application itself requires basic contact information, team demographics and organization information, and information about the adult supporter(s). This step should take less than half an hour to complete.
There are two additional details that your application requires. First, you will need to provide your team’s number on the application. If you have a temporary number (such as 2019#### or 2020####), make a note so you can update it with your permanent number once you receive it. You will also need to know your team’s Grant Area, which you can verify here.
3. Submit your W-9 and TWC-required documents.
Every application needs to submit a W-9. If you want to be eligible for TWC grants, you will also need to provide a TWC Roster.
Some grants are only given to new teams, but don’t worry! You don’t have to provide documentation regarding your team’s rookie or veteran status. Our grants team will handle it.
4. Check for the confirmation email.
You can save your application as an in-progress draft at any time throughout the process, but it’s important to be sure you submit the application once it’s complete. Your listed email address should receive a confirmation email. You can also check your submission status through Submittable. Once you receive confirmation that your application was submitted, you can check the Grant Calendar for next steps and additional opportunities.
What Happens Next?
We recommend you apply as soon as possible before Round One’s September 8th deadline. This will give you plenty of time to correct any errors or make modifications. While Rounds Two and Three also provide helpful grants, your team has the strongest chance of receiving funding by participating as soon as possible.
Once your application has been submitted, be sure to bookmark your Submittable account so you can easily check for updates. You will receive an email by approximately September 13 regarding Round One results. We also recommend you subscribe to the FIRST in Texas newsletter to stay informed on grants, programs, events, and more.
If your team receives a grant, you may be required to provide additional documentation before receiving the grant check and at the end of the year. Every grant has slightly different requirements and specifics will communicate with your team every step of the way.
Save the Date: August 15th
The window for grant applications begins on August 15th. We encourage teams who have previously not applied for a grant to do so this season. Follow the Grant Calendar to ensure that your grant application is submitted before each application deadline.
Not sure grants are something your team should consider? Last year less than 900 teams applied for a robotics team grant. With over 3,000 FIRST teams in Texas the need for team funding is high, but unless your team applies for a grant these funding opportunities will pass you by.
*Not all teams who apply will meet grantor requirements. For additional fundraising opportunities we recommend ALL teams go through the extensive tutorials on the FIRST Fundraising Toolkit page.