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 $350 for team registration and a reusable LEGO® Education WeDo 2.0 set. Additional costs for festival participation, travel, food, team shirts and other optional items will vary.

Veteran teams will pay less since the LEGO® Education 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.

Collins Aerospace Grant

Who can apply? Collins Aerospace offers two FIRST® team grant programs, which are administered through the application form below. Teams that meet the criteria of one of the programs listed are eligible for a team grant sponsored by Collins Aerospace.

Program 1 : The Collins Aerospace Employee Mentored/Coached FIRST® Team Grant.  The Collins Aerospace FIRST® team grants are available to any team with an employee coach and/or mentor(s)
Program 2: The Collins Aerospace Redefining Futures FIRST® Team Grant program. A Collins Aerospace employee mentor/coach is not required. FIRST team is located in a state with a major company site (this applies to Virginia and Washington D.C.). FIRST® team has two or more of the following attributes: (a) Newly formed FIRST team (b) Team of high-need/over 50 percent free/reduced lunch rates (c) Teams with over 50 percent makeup of underrepresented populations in STEM fields.

What is being offered? The FIRST® National Registration Fee ($99)

Read more about the grant HERE. Apply for the grant HERE. Deadline: September 15th, 2020

U.S. Cellular Community Connections Grant

Who can apply? Teams must be a registered nonprofit or have a non-profit willing to accept the grant on the teams behalf (see the “How Teams are Funded” section for ways to easily navigate that).

What is being offered? Teams can earn up to $1,000 to use on registration or materials.

(1) Sign Up: You’ll get a chance to upload pictures of your organization and tell your story.All you’ll need is proof of your nonprofit status and Sponsor approval to get started.
(2) Engage: Your supporters will engage with your sponsorship page via likes, shares, watching videos, answering questions, and opting in to some great deals.
(3) Rally: Your earning opportunity only lasts 14 days, so make sure your network is ready for the launch date.
(4) Support: The more supporters you have, the faster you’ll be able to reach your sponsorship goal of up to $1,000. On average, it takes anywhere from 175-250 supporters to reach a fully funded goal.

Read more about the grant HERE. Apply for the grant HERE.

NewsCorp & Donors Choose School Grants

Who can apply? Teams located at US public or US public charger schools looking for materials (robots, laptops, project supplies, etc)

What is being offered? Teams will need to work with an educator to create a project request. It is recommended that requests are below $2,000.

FIRST and NewsCorp are thrilled to support public school teachers in leading FIRST teams with a selective funding opportunity.  Projects requesting resources to support FIRST teams can have the chance to receive selective funding from FIRST.  Unlike a match offer, this selective funding opportunity will help your project be considered by FIRST for a donation to partially fund your project.  

Find out more about how to create your project HERE.