Does FTC/FIRST Robotics have any sort of rules or guidelines for disbanding a team? Particularly what happens to the team assets (robot, parts, tools and funds).
First doesn’t own any of your team’s assets. They don’t have any policies that I know of. They would be only policies so they would be non-binding anyway. If it was a school team, the school probably considers the property of the team to belong to the school.
Oh well, FIRTST doesn’t want any team to disband or discontinue. Find someone who can carry on your team’s mission.
I don’t believe that there is an official process besides not paying registration. After 5 years iirc if the team was to become active again they would be treated as any other rookie. And there have been cases where a number has been reused.
And as for the resources the team owns, if the team is an organization that is under the control of a school then the school will take possession of them. If this is the case then technically the school owns all of it anyway. If a team is a 501©(3), also known as a community team, then the resources are still and have always been owned by that organization. It is up to the board of the 501©(3) to handle the stuff.
Most of what other folks have posted is relevant.
If this is for FTC I would reach out to the local partner to see if there is any of the equipment that could be of use. Also, they are usually a good point of contact to find another FTC team to sell/donate/git rid of equipment in line with school/community policies.
I know this happens with FLL. An aged out community team will look to pass one their NXT or EV3 to a new group of students or find a community center that can use the equipment.
Thank you for your replies everyone.
We are not under the control of a school. Our team is under two organizations, a local government agency and a local extension office. The first agency handles all of the funds (in a separate account), hosts the team meetings in their building and stores all of the team materials when not in use.
The two organizations are of one mind about the fate of the team and the ownership of the assets, but the head coach (and possibly one mentor) is not and this may potentially become a legal issue.
Also as a note, there are pretty clear rules about dispersing assets from a 501c3 to a private individual (aka, you usually can’t). If the 501c3 no longer has a need for it they can sell it or donate it to another non-profit organization (say another team in the area).
I haven’t read them in awhile, so take that with a grain of salt, but it is to fix the problem of establishing a non-profit, receiving assets as donations/grants/etc under the premise that it will be used for non-profit/education, and then some time later rolling that to a person or for profit company and having them net a “profit” off the assets.
I am not privy to all of the discussions, but my understanding is that the two organizations would like the remaining funds to go towards running STEM workshops in the local community. The robot, parts and tools have, I think, been offered to a local school.
I believe the extension office the team is under is considered a 501(c)3, though I will have to check on that.
I’m trying not to air any dirty laundry, but the two organizations the team is under would like to discontinue their support and put the team’s assets to use in STEM projects in the community. The head coach would like to take the assets and the team, such as it is, elsewhere. Or at least that is my understanding.
If the funds came through (IE donations paid to ) or provided by the local government agency it pretty clear. It is property of the agency. With the limited information provided: If the mantor/coach just wanted to stuff, they are out of luck. If they want to start another team then they need to convince the agency that is a good idea. Government agency are also constrained by laws governing surplus property. I would avoid the threat of legal action in the discussion. First lawyer consult will be more than cost of the equipment. Lawsuits against the government are never cheap. ;]
Extension offices are actually government. At least in my state. Technically not 501C but for this case functionally the same.
Maybe not exactly the same, but I know of a similar situation. A school ended its FRC program. The team split off and became a community team with a 501-C foundation. It took a meeting between the school and the sponsor that provided the funds to buy the team equipment to get the school to release the equipment.
Look for the Team’s Organization Materials -When the team was originally formed.
Was it a private, 501©-3, sub-agency (school club), etc. How it was formed will drive who owns the assets.
Just because money came from a government agency does not mean it belongs to the government. Governments give grants all the time. Once a grant is given, the assets are usually property of the receiving organization.
Sorry for the limited information. I am trying to keep the team and myself anonymous.
All funds go through the local agency for transparency and accountability. It is in a separate account so paperwork needs to be filed to access any team funds.
I have not been a part of any discussions per se, but I do know that the local agency did contact their lawyer to make sure everything being done was legal (as you mentioned, they are constrained by laws in this).
I could not say if the coach wants the team assets for himself or to start a new team, but either way the two organizations do not want to hand the assets over to him as a “new” team is likely to fail for the same reasons the current one is and they believe they could put the assets to better use within the community.
How it was formed could be up to interpretation. There is, as far as I know, no documentation about it.
The funds for the team came from a variety of different sources, though no government grants. Both of the organizations that the team is under donated to the team (both money and resources), as did a 501(c)3 under the local government agency. All funds still belong to the team, the question is who do they belong to when the team no longer exists.
The analysis begins with: “Who (or what entity) is the ‘Team’”?
Let’s say that I am Company XYZ, and I want to donate $1,000 to your team.
Who do I make the check out to?
Where are the funds deposited?
If deposited into a checking about of the Team, what forms were filled out with the Bank? They would want to know what legal entity opened the account.
Are donations to the Team tax-deductible? If so, what entity has the tax-exemption certificate? Who gives the receipt for the tax-deductible contribution?
My team is part of the School. Donations are technically to the School for the Robotics “club”.
If you are operating under another entity’s 501(c)-3 status, then you are arguably part of that entity, and that entity would decide what happens to your assets (what happens with assets of a tax-exempt entity is controlled by IRS rules).
If you determine that the team is independent of any other organization (not operating under another entity’s 501(c)-3 status), then I suggest prior to the dissolution of the Team, the Team gets together, and votes what happens to the assets.
I’m pretty sure others have answered the question as to what happens with the stuff…So…Instead…
My heart breaks for you and your team. I can’t really say I have ever come close to losing my team. I can’t imagine watching something you have worked so hard to build melt away. The fact is, we are all much closer to the edge than we might imagine. All it would take is losing a key person, or funding, or your work space…
In anycase, I am sorry and I hope you can all find homes in new teams soon.
Sorry I forgot to say THANK YOU for working with FIRST teams. Wishing you well in your future endeavors.
If the coach wants to start a new team, and take with them any existing students, they may want to evaluate the cost/benefit of fighting to get any of the existing assets, versus simply walking away and starting new. Especially if legal action is being threatened.
If there are five or fewer students coming into the new team, they could be considered a rookie team and thus take advantage of those benefits, including rookie grants, and shots at awards like Rookie All Star. If there are more than five students, they would be considered a new veteran team and they would be assigned a team number of similar vintage.