Lockheed Martin Dropping Sponsoring FRC Teams for 2024 and beyond

Just found out about this through a coworker and I am disappointed for sure. I know $1000 dollars isn’t a lot for larger teams, but it is for small teams like ours and having that much less to pay for competition was nice.

Here is the relevant part of the email I received.

"FIRST ® Robotics Program Update:

The 2023-2024 season will be the final offering of the Lockheed Martin FIRST® grants. As a result of ending the program, we will not provide grants to teams mentored or coached by a Lockheed Martin employee in the 2024-2025 season and thereafter.

Lockheed Martin Grants for FIRST ® Teams

Lockheed Martin invites full and part-time U.S.-based employees who are actively mentoring, coaching, or volunteering a high school FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC) or FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC) team to apply for a grant online. This grant will be awarded as follows:

  • FIRST® Tech Challenge - $500 restricted per FIRST policy
  • FIRST® Robotics Competition - $1,000 unrestricted

This year’s funding will be dedicated to team grant support, and Lockheed Martin will not be providing additional funding to qualifying World Championship teams. We are capping our support for this season; once the funds have been expended, we’re unable to fund additional applicants."


But this program only costs $6000. Surely your team can find that in your couch cushions.

Raytheon and Lockheed pull back among many others, yet reg fees go up. Way to talk to your partners, FIRST.


Like most teams, we won’t miss this at all, because we’ve never qualified for it. Many teams never had a coach or mentor that was a Lockheed Martin employee, so they couldn’t even apply, much less win a grant.

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Sad to hear this. We had a VP from Lockheed at one point who was a parent of one of our students and a mentor. Really nice guy. This grant helped us out for a few years.

I wonder what the true cause of this is from the point of view of the Lockheed folks.


Sad to hear about this. For my high school team, that $1000 Lockheed grant was our largest sponsorship by far (other than the school district covering registration fees). I’m sure there are more than a handful of other small teams that grant helped keep afloat as well. Shame to see it go.


Regardless of how many (or how few) teams this grant reached, it’s still sad to see a supporter of FIRST seemingly backing out of the program, one way or another, moving forward. I’m sure this grant was a huge help to a number of the teams that were fortunate enough to qualify for and receive it.


I’ve always wondered how FIRST tries to strike the balance of having companies support them directly, vs support teams that reach out to them. Having a sponsor cut out a single check to FIRST that benefits the program as a whole is certainly easier for them compared to processing individual requests from schools and non-profits. Similarly on a much smaller scale, there are coaches/parents/mentors who would donate to FIRST if they weren’t directly supporting the team they are a part of.

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No argument with that and I’m sure it is a blow to those who qualified. But, at the same time, I’m much more moved and dismayed when a sponsor who gives equally to all teams pulls back support from FIRST, like Raytheon.

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They may be restructuring their approach. Some companies do broader community service grants (e.g. volunteer X hours for a non-profit, and the company will donate either fixed or variable $). For example, Northrop Grumman does the following:

We provide Community Service Grants in recognition of our employees’ volunteer efforts, whether at a Northrop Grumman volunteer event or when volunteering on their own. Eligible employees can apply for a $500 Community Service Grant benefiting a nonprofit organization or school for which they volunteer. To be eligible for consideration, employees must volunteer at least 40 hours with qualifying organizations and log their hours in the My Giving portal.

So each employee mentor can result in a $500 donation with minimal paperwork. Other companies do a $/hr type donation for volunteering. Every company is different here and often make changes over time as company priorities change. Every team should be working with their mentors to utilize these types of programs to the maximum extent possible. It’s of course not equivalent, but corporate matching of individual employee donations can also make a big impact.


We had similar issues with Motorola last year.

The $5k to $6k increase appears to not having been communicated to the foundation, leading them to run out of allocations prematurely. This caught us by surprise when they ran out of funding to pay champs registrations after week 1 events last year. That was the first time in 27 years that has happened.

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This has been a huge issue in the bay area for quite some time. Large tech companies that would sponsor teams / regionals would get sniped by FIRST to sponsor HQ, much to the frustration of our teams and regional directors.


Sikorsky Aircraft is a chunk of L-M and was Team 230’s first corporate sponsor. The team is even partly named for their best known product. It will be sad after the 2024 season when their logo is no longer on our robots. Pretty short-sighted of them, I think.


I mean they’ve got expenses and stuff … LOCKHEED MARTIN CORP Executive Salaries & Other Compensation | Salary.com


For a more holistic view of their current finances, they released their 2023Q2 report earlier today. In my personal opinion, looking at executive compensations doesn’t lead to much meaningful conversation.


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I’d probably be inclined to look at ESG investments and why they are pulling back in FRC at the team level. Most companies of this size have something in place these days to guide them.

Counter point to doing “broader good” since that is very similar to what Amazon claimed when they ended the Amazon Smile program, just because a company things it can do more good by giving less in total, but more money to less groups, doesn’t mean it does.

Amazon closing AmazonSmile to focus its philanthropic giving to programs with greater impact

A lot of teams and small not for profits received money from Smile. While the RSA usually only got about $80, it helped cover domain registrations for some of our many domain names. We have about 15-20 domains registered due to a concern over bad actors trying to take similar named domains to the ones we focus on, lgbtqoffirst.org and therainbowsteamalliance.org and using them for nefarious reasons or to promote hateful ideologies.


Net earnings post-tax of $3bb in the first half of 2023 and can’t spare a $2-3mm sponsorship ($1k * 2-3k teams) seems pretty damning of FIRST’s handling of the relationship on behalf of teams? (Or Wall Street’s attitude towards private support of educational programs.)

Can’t speak to the executives “personal choices” around their ~$27mm cash comp, but maybe the Board is looking for a team that’ll take $20mm cash if they’re on a cost cutting binge…



For those interested, Team 100 – The Wildhats, was the only team from 1998 (number freeze year) to have their number determined by a Lockheed Martin sponsorship.


What an asinine comment made by Strategic. I work for LM and not having it available in the future hurts a small resource team like mine. It’s like me saying I don’t get a grant from BAE or Catapiler so I can care less about another team trying to fund and compete in FRC. And oh by the way there is a trickle down affect. It’s going to cut down my out reach to help another team I am working with since I can sponsor another team. With cost of materials the rising cost of fees by FRC now we have to find 2000$ (fee increase and loss of LM funding), more to be able to stay afloat. Glad to hear your comfortable with your teams financial situation raising 25K most teams are not! How would you feel if your sponsors like Lenovo start to cut back on you???