Hello. Please welcome FIRST in Upper Midwest.

I’m super excited to announce the formation of a new FRC supporting nonprofit – FIRST in Upper Midwest. Its mission is to support the growth of FRC in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

FUM’s work will complement the work of the current FIRST Regional Directors and their focus on team recruiting and retention, fundraising, and event management. We think we’ll start by focusing on offseason events, training activities, and team development, but that decision is really one to be made by the new organization’s Board of Directors.

Applications for the initial Board of Directors will be open from October 14 through November 3. The initial board will be selected by a nominating committee of local Woodie Flowers Finalist Award recipients. Details on the application process and responsibilities of board membership will be posted on the MN FIRST web site prior to the 14th.

Questions? Several ways to get them answered.

  1. Ask them in this thread
  2. Send me an email at [email protected]
  3. Come find me at MRI this weekend – I’ll be around Friday evening (tonight!) and Saturday morning
  4. Join me on call on October 18 from 6-7 PM (details to follow)

I’m super excited for this, and happy we can finally talk about it!

Does this mean districts are in the works?

Hopefully. Interesting to see Wisconsin not included.

New record?

And Iowa

I believe an official invite to join CHS has been sent to Wisconsin.

I’m curious why there was a need for secrecy? Why was this not allowed to be talked about?

Not so much that we couldn’t talk about (I’ve mentioned it a few times here on CD over the summer), as there was a lot of work that needed to be accomplished to get this far, and we didn’t want to put the cart before the horse, so to speak. Until this point, paperwork wasn’t filed, the boundaries of the organization weren’t solidified, and we didn’t really want to create expectations that may not have been fulfilled. Steve has done an incredible job shepherding the process through to this point.

For Iowa and Wisconsin… I’ll let Steve answer more fully, but I’m 99% sure discussions were had with both local organizations.

As for districts, I’ll point you to this line from the announcement:

We think we’ll start by focusing on offseason events, training activities, and team development, but that decision is really one to be made by the new organization’s Board of Directors.

The Board of Directors of any organization are the ones that set its direction and purpose. Until such a board is chosen, meets, and decides on that direction, there really isn’t anything to say. Those that have strong feelings as to what direction and path the organization should take should apply for the BoD.

I’ve been working on this since February, and have been talking to people both 1:1 and in groups over the spring and summer.

What we’re talking about today for the first time is a) what we think the initial scope of work is and b) how the initial board will be selected. TBH part of the goal is to make a splash, so that we get good candidates to come forward for the board. The goal is to get the selection process done in early November, and have an initial board meeting in December.

Regarding the geographical area that’s covered, there were extensive discussions about that and both Iowa and Wisconsin leaders were consulted. The feedback we got is that it doesn’t make sense now for them to participate. If circumstances change in the future, nothing prevents them from coming on board and we’d be happy for that to happen.

Jon and Steve,

It sounds like it is a step in the right direction. Congrats.

I have some questions…

  1. FRC is running about 1 team for every 110,000 people in the US. For 2018 MN was over 4X ahead of that rate. How does that factor into plans for team recruiting and retention for FRC in MN?

  2. Right now the only team in South Dakota is 4593 in Rapid City and they have no history of attending events in MN (nor does it really make sense for them to do so). Does the inclusion of SD mean there are plans for teams in Souix Falls, Brookings, and/or Watertown in the near future? Those 3 cities are within 20 miles of MN and represent about 25% of the population of SD.

  3. Does this organization cover FTC, FLL, and FLL Jr as well or just FRC?

This is a good question. One of the biggest difficulties that CHS has run into over the years is the same organization that runs CHS also runs Virginia FTC and FLL. FTC and FLL in Maryland and DC are run by separate organizations. This can complicate things and add perceptions that may or may not exist.

EDIT - Virginia FLL may be run through a different organization, I’m not 100% on the structure. Virginia FTC is definitely run through the same non profit as CHS though

There are still obvious opportunities for new FRC teams at high schools in Minnesota. Increasing the amount of local help for teams helps with retention.

There have been efforts in the past to get teams going in eastern SD. By including SD we’ll clearly want to continue trying to get teams going in those areas.

We expect to work closely with the FIRST program partners and affiliates in the region. This model has worked successfully in other regions where multiple nonprofits are program partners.

Eh. I think Iowa might be better off on it’s own for now (assuming this will be a district) unless we can get some really good team density (unlikely but I would love to be proven wrong) or do a PA-like split where teams go to FUM/KC/STL/WI/IL depending on location. (Or what the team signs up for)

Is there any word on who will be on the BoD?

FiM was a little over 5.5x this number in 2017. Having districts I think certainly helps facilitate this. The growth of FRC definitely continues to outpace the growth of state population every year.

This sounds like a hot mess tbh.

From the OP

“Applications for the initial Board of Directors will be open from October 14 through November 3. The initial board will be selected by a nominating committee of local Woodie Flowers Finalist Award recipients. Details on the application process and responsibilities of board membership will be posted on the MN FIRST web site prior to the 14th.”

I wonder what the criteria for the selection of the people on the nominating committee was (other than being local and WFFA recipients).

There is a meeting for the currently active WFFA members from the area next week to discuss the whole thing. The invite was sent out by Mark Lawrence, Chairman of the MN RPC and WFA winner. Those really were the only requirements - within the defined region, WFFA recipient, and currently active with FRC. So the other two WFFA winners from my team weren’t invited, as neither one is currently active with FIRST (both have separately gotten married and had kids since winning WFFA, and had to re-prioritize). I expect there will be some amount of self-selection from this group - people that are too busy/not interested, or ones that decide to apply for the BoD and their participation on the selection committee would be a conflict of interest. From there… we’ll figure it all out next week!

This is fantastic news! Thanks to Steve and company for all of your hard work to get this off the ground. I’m really excited about how this can positively impact FIRST Robotics in the Upper Midwest.

This is certainly interesting to hear as a WFFA recipient - I’m currently active as a FLL Jr., FLL and FTC volunteer while mentoring an FRC team for 2019 yet I did not receive an invite (I just double-checked all of my emails). I’ll be sure to send an email inquiring meeting status and times.

Some exciting times for FUM coming up!

I have to say that at least frc in minnesota provides for great online content