Budget & Funding

There are a few things needed to get a FIRST® LEGO® League Explore team going.

New FIRST® LEGO® League Explore teams can expect to pay approximately $450 for team registration and a reusable LEGO® Education robotics set (LEGO Spike Essential kit). Additional costs for festival participation, travel, food, team shirts and other optional items will vary.

Veteran teams will pay less since the LEGO® Education Spike Essentials or WeDo 2.0 set can be used year after year. Team registration must be purchased every season.  

How are teams funded?

School-based teams receive STEM funding, school/ district/ state grants or PTA/ PTO support.

Parents and teachers should check with school administrators and STEM leaders within the school/district to inquire about local and regional funding opportunities.

Possible funding sources: After-school enrichment programs, Equity/ Diversity/ Inclusion in STEM initiatives, Women in STEM initiatives, Gifted and Talented programs.

There are sometimes STEM competition grants offered by Virginia Department of Education. Consult with local STEM coordinators for grant opportunities.

PTO/ PTA organizations sometimes provide club or enrichment grants to teachers within a specific school. Consult your school’s PTO/ PTA

Independently funded teams receive funding from corporate or individual sponsors.

Use your connections! Think about family, friends, or local businesses that may want to support your team.

If you are being reimbursed by a company or organization, but sure to find out what documentation is needed as sometimes it takes time to get the proper documents needed.

Tax-Exempt Non-Profit Status: Some sponsors can only fund tax-exempt nonprofit organizations (501{c}{3}). You could register your team but given the relatively small funding needs of an FLL Explore team, you will likely find it is not worth the legal fees.

Some FLL teams will ask a friendly FRC team (many of whom are associated with a 501(c)(3) nonprofit group) if they can accept sponsorships on behalf of your FLL team. Others will ask a robotics booster club or school PTA group if they can graciously do the same. (This helpful tip was taken from FLL Tutorials. Definitely check them out!)

Receiving donations through FIRST (a non-profit): Teams can receive donations through FIRST® for national registration, the season challenge kit, and LEGO products (ordered through the FIRST ®site). Because of admin costs, donations need to be $99 or more. Sponsors will need the team number regardless of how they pay for your national registration. If you are new team, you will need to give your temporary team number as you won’t receive an official number until payment has been made.

To donate to a specific team by check, please remit to FIRST®, Attn: Finance, 200 Bedford Street, Manchester, NH 03101 with the FIRST® team number and location clearly noted in the memo line.

To donate to a specific FIRST team by credit card, please call FIRST® Finance at 1-800-871-8326 ext. 563

Teams can also look for national and regional FIRST® specific grants.

Check with http://firstinspires.org to find rookie grant opportunities, usually released in May of each year.

Check out the grant information below for regional grant opportunities provided by local & global companies and organizations including Amazon, Collins Aerospace, and more!

These are offered at different times of the year, depending on the grant specifications.

Team can also create their own fundraising plans that involve community outreach opportunities.

Teams have used bake sales, yard sales, and other local fundraising opportunities to raise some or all of the funds needed to start a team. During COVID-19, some of these might not be possible, but this is a good time to get innovative.

Check out the videos in the FIRST® Fundraising Tool kit. Be careful.. the videos are helpful but many of the resources are specifically targeted to FTC and FRC teams.

Team Grant Opportunities

Team grant opportunities are always being updated. Keep checking back to find more! Thank you to our amazing Team Grant Sponsors for providing these opportunities to students across Virginia and D.C.