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Unread 05-28-2004, 03:41 PM
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**IMPORTANT FIRST EMAIL BLAST**/2005 Registration Fee

Hello. This is an important announcement for all FIRST Robotics Competition teams. You may be the only person on your team to receive this message, so please be sure to share it with the rest of your team in a timely manner. If you think that other members of your team would also like to receive these announcements, please encourage them to sign up at http://listserv.leapit.com/cgi-bin/l...join=frcpublic.

If you would like to stop receiving these messages, please see the bottom of this message for instructions.
__________________________________________________ ____
TO: The FIRST Community
FROM: Paul Shay, Executive Director, paulshay@usfirst.org
RE: 2004/05 FIRST Robotics Competition Registration Fees
DATE: May 28, 2004

With the 2003/04 FIRST Robotics Competition season complete, we have had the opportunity to reflect on our results and look forward to more success.

Looking back, I would like to offer thanks and appreciation to every member of our community. Once again, FIRST set the standard for inspiring young people's interest and participation in science and technology. Looking forward, it's clear we must continue to raise that standard.

It is with that standard in mind that I am writing to let you know about an important change. After careful consideration of a number of options, the Steering Committee of the Board of Directors of FIRST has decided registration fees for FRC will be increased as of the 2004/05 season. Please understand this decision was not made lightly, as we understand that covering the registration fees is a significant challenge for many teams. We are keenly aware that FIRST demands much. But, as all of us have come to realize, it is precisely because FIRST demands so much that it delivers so much.

The new fee structure is as follows:
- First Play: $6,000 (an increase of $1,000, but with additional team grants available for teams in need)
- Additional Regional Plays: $4,000 (unchanged)
- Championship $5,000: (an increase of $1,000 but accompanied by a corresponding decrease in hotel package prices and wrap celebration fee.)

The Steering Committee spent considerable time reviewing the situation, asking questions, and seeking alternatives. I would like to share some of those questions and our thinking. Please spend a few moments to review them. As always, I welcome your thoughts and feedback.

Why is FIRST increasing registration fees for teams?

There are three main reasons for this change:

1. FIRST must ensure the quality and reliability of the FRC experience.

FRC participants "play with the pros" of the world of science and engineering. This means working with the most recent technology. It means investment in skilled volunteers, efficient processes and reliable equipment. It also means we must be absolutely certain it all works on competition day. FIRST is a lean organization, and will remain so, but we do not have the capacity required to manage the growth FIRST is experiencing. This led to some "near misses" this past season. We can't repeat them and so must develop our organizational capacity. This requires funds and the registration fees are the most important source of revenue for FIRST.

2. FIRST must deliver support to our volunteers.

We are a volunteer-driven organization. As our events grow in size, number and complexity, the demands on our volunteer network grow as well. The change in fees will allow us to recruit more volunteers and provide them with the high quality training, manuals, registration tools, and recognition they need to continue to turn the FIRST vision into reality.

3. FIRST must balance cost and revenue.

Like any business or not-for-profit organization, FIRST must balance cost and revenue. The cost of creating the game, running the competitions and operating FIRST has increased significantly as we have grown in scope, even with the significant measures that have been taken to control costs. While we have continuously brought on new sponsors, these efforts cover only a portion of the cost increase. We also need to align specific fees more closely with related costs. The initial registration provides the major source of revenue for FIRST, corresponding to the greatest cost. Thus it must be increased. Additional regional plays do not entail the same level of cost, so we have been able to maintain the current fee. We have increased the Championship fee but lowered the hotel package fee and Saturday evening fee.

Does this mean the registration fee will change often?

The registration fees have not changed frequently. We understand how difficult it can be for teams to raise funds and so will continue to avoid increasing the fee whenever possible. The registration fee was last increased back in 1999/2000, when $1,000 was added to the fee for the first play, following the introduction of the new, higher quality control system that teams were allowed to keep.

I thought the registration fee was for the kit of parts? What costs does the registration fee cover?

The fee contributes to the costs of creating the game, running the competitions, and operating FIRST. It does not solely offset the cost of the kit of parts, although it must cover the portion of the cost of the parts not covered by donations. In addition to the kit of parts, other costs the fee helps offset include:
- Drayage Cost: While we have been very successful in securing the support of FEDEX for the teams, FIRST still incurs over $400,000 in drayage expense to move robot crates to and from local venues.
- Playing Field Design, Construction and Transportation: The expense for the design, building and trucking/transportation of the fields is over $500,000.
- Event Costs: There is over $850,000 in costs not covered by regional event fundraising, including costs for the Kick-Off, event management, communications, travel, and recognition.
- FIRST Infrastructure & Services: While lean, the infrastructure of staff and resources in Manchester, NH needs to be sufficient to support the development of the games, to create the necessary resources, to work with volunteers to implement the programs, and to run the organization. Areas include programs, volunteer services, operations, engineering, marketing, finance, fundraising and management.
- Shortfalls in fundraising: While committees and FIRST achieve impressive fundraising results, each year some events fall short in reaching their fundraising goals. FIRST needs funds to cover these shortfalls or cancel events.

What are the additional team grants?

FIRST is creating an additional pool of $200,000 for team grants for teams in need to offset the challenge created by the increase in the registration fees. This will be in addition to the team grants offered through the FIRST Underserved Initiative and through sponsors such as NASA. We will communicate the parameters and procedures for applying for these new grants as soon as they are available.

What is the relationship between the Championship fee and the hotel packages?

As any of you who have been to the Championship know, it is an exciting event. Putting on an event like this costs money, which is covered by sponsorships, the registration fee, a portion of the hotel package cost and, for those who did not buy hotel packages, the special fee that allowed participation in the wrap celebration. In order to ensure the hotel packages and fees for Saturday evening offer the best possible value, and in order to share more equitably the cost of the championship among all who attend, we are increasing the Championship registration fee while reducing the prices for the hotel packages and wrap celebration.
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