$3,000,000 in State of Michigan Education grants supported by new mentoring program

Lauren Williams's picture
Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Grandville High School RoboDawgs announced a mentoring program today designed to support Michigan high schools that want to apply for a state grant to support a new or existing FIRST Robotics team. The FY2013 State School Aid Act, section 99h appropriated $3,000,000 for the 2013-14 school year for competitive grants to districts that provide pupils in grades 7-12 with expanded opportunities to improve mathematics, science, and technology skills by participating in events hosted by a science and technology development program known as FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics. The Grandville RoboDawgs will assist new and existing teams with the preparation of grant applications – as well as the development of educational strategy, team organization, mentor development, fundraising, and robot design and construction. High schools wanting to take advantage of the State grant program and interested in mentoring support can contact the RoboDawgs' mentoring coordinator, Verdell Hall.

The RoboDawgs have publicly advocated for more public support of high school robotics at events such as their semi-annual promotional event at the Rivertown Crossings Mall in Grandville, where they have talked with both local and state school board members. They have met with teachers and administrators from many Michigan school districts – and they took their message to the annual meeting of the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals last year. The team was excited to see results, as the State of Michigan Department of Education announced the 2013-2014 grant program last week. Under the terms of the grant program, school districts can claim basic grant funds of $6,500-$9,000 per FRC team. Basic grants require 50% local matching funding from one sponsor, business entity, higher education institution, or technical school. The grant program will also provide additional funding to support teams which advance to a State or National Championship.

All public schools in Michigan are eligible for the FIRST Robotics grants if they operate a FIRST Robotics team and meet the following requirements:

  • Have a current FIRST Robotics or Tech Challenge program in place that will continue through the 2013-2014 school year.
  • Establish a FIRST Robotics or Tech Challenge program in the 2013-2014 school year.
  • Program must serve students in grades 7-12.

The Grandville High School RoboDawgs is one of the largest FIRST Robotics programs in the world.  Grandville High School is the only high school in North America fielding three FRC teams.  Grandville is home to Team 288 (The RoboDawgs), team 216 (More RoboDawgs) and team 244 (RoboDawgs 3D). The RoboDawgs have been helping schools develop new robotics teams for more than a decade, with the team mentoring more than 50 new robotics teams over the past 16 years.  Not only have the RoboDawgs mentored West Michigan teams, last year they installed telepresence technology at the Grandville Robotics & Engineering Center that allowed them to remotely mentor two new robotics teams in Calgary, Alberta. One of those new teams, #4627 Iron Manning from Ernest Manning High School, won the Rookie All Star award at the Canadian Western Regional FIRST Robotics Competition and qualified for the FIRST Championships in St. Louis.