No Regranting for FTC or FLL

based on what you are saying about a 501(c)3 organization, moreso, regrants should be made possible.

Overall, this is part of a larger issue where FIRST’s mission is to impact students, but challenges make it difficult to support the very organizations that provide the students these opportunities.

In the case of schools, there is more than enough hurdles to jump through in offering FIRST, so we should all always look at ways to removing those barriers.
I’ve expressed my share of complaints over the years to FIRST.

Individual teams are (for the most part) not charities. These corporate donors are (I’m guessing) giving the money to FIRST specifically because they can put all their “team” donations into one tax-refundable gift. No one is being hoodwinked.

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It is clearly stated in the policy First has for excepting gifts, if sponsor writing that kind of check didn’t read the agreement then it on them. If a sponsor wants a different agreement, they are free to negotiate one. First may or not accept.

In FTC and FLL the big money is in travel expenses. The problem with the new policy is Donors cannot donate build or travel expenses or scholarship individuals through First any longer. In FRC you just have to be sure you save one of the regrant requests until after all the sponsorship has come through.

I never said (nor ment to imply) that anyone was. I only ment to stress that typically there is a reasonable expectation that charitable funds that are clearly indicated to go to a specific team (because they didn’t hand out this funds randomly, teams had to apply for them) or entity are not used for another purpose or even a general fund. I understand this is not always the case and the laws themselves can often be ambiguous about it. But if giving to specific teams, such as underprivileged teams, is important enough to the sponsor that they would create an application process, I sincerely hope they will now try to NOT go through FIRST. Because there is no longer any assurance that the money will actually be used by those underprivileged teams.

Yes please.

This is the first year we have been able to develop an FTC program in our Middle School (FIM). We have a Ford mentor and have applied for the Ford grant. It would have covered registration for next year, since we got the rookie grant for this year.

Now I feel it probably doesn’t matter if we get it or not. I can’t spend it on anything. (Please correct me if I’m wrong) We’ve already purchased all of our kit stuff already through the dashboard and it won’t let me purchase anything more. (Spare parts?) We could try to start a second team, (I’m sure we could find enough students) but we applied for this team, I don’t think we could use it to pay for another team. So, unless I’m wrong on how we can use it, I’m left with know that even if we get the grant, we can’t use it. And that’s truly disappointing.


The problem is most teams are not setup as 501(C)(3) (especially FLLs) and managing all of that effort would put huge burden on the sponsors. I don’t see this happening for most sponsors

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However many, if not most, are affiliated with a school. Which is a non profit and can accept tax deductible donations. (And typically qualify for the regrant process) The problem is for large company’s that donate large amounts that are intended to go to specific teams.

Just to clarify, public schools in general are not non-profits, but many sponsors categorize such schools as a recipient much the same way as a non-profit.
I run a 501(c)3 and work at a public school, where the rules for funding (receiving and spending) can be very different.


Especially for FLL, there are a LOT of community teams. In our region (southern New Jersey), I’m fairly certain we have many more community FLL teams than school teams.


One of the advantages of sponsors working through First is it First responsibility to make sure they are in compliance with tax laws when regranting money. Cuts out a lot of work for the donor’s accounting department. While public schools are not typically 501Cs they do meet the requirements in tax law for non-profit donations.

In the past our FRC team’s foundation handled donations to the FLL teams we supported. Some of those passed through First. Technically unrestricted funds to us, but we had agreement with the sponsor for what the funds were for.

Frank, same here, we do some passthroughs also.
For the very reason regrants are an advantage to us, its work on FIRST’s end.
Again, best case scenario I think with no regrant options is to be able to have it in our accounts to use later beyond the school year/season.



Being a rookie team, I figured once the game was revealed I would be able to buy SOMETHING else through my dashboard. Game pieces or something? But it only shows the KOP and I can’t even buy that.

I get that I wouldn’t be able to buy a control hub or something but if I could even get some hardware or parts or something, it might help supply my brand new rookie team that has nothing. But it won’t even let me order anything because I’ve already bought one of all of them.

So what you’re saying FIRST, is that no matter how much money I get in grants, I’m only ALLOWED to spend $750 of it and the rest you get automatically???

Wow, just wow.

It’s so upsetting trying to start a team, thinking since I got grants I should be able to buy some tools or hardware for next year. While we struggle to make do this year. But now I have to ask my kids to fundraise even more because the money we got, we don’t actually got.

Thank you @Chuck-Eng_8002 for bringing this up. I wasn’t here in may when they sent the email out whatever, but everyone kept telling me grants can keep me going for a couple years until I can build up the team.

I hope someone corrects me and I’m looking in the wrong place or something so I actually can at least TRY to spend the funds I’ve been given. Because it’s hard enough to sustain a team, completely losing grant money is a difficult pill to swallow. Not to mention disheartening to students and parents.

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I’m on the same page with you, hoping I’m just missing something. Sadly, a call to FIRST Customer Support this morning confirmed that we can ONLY use the grant funds to purchase KITS from the FIRST Storefront.
My teams have been around for 4+ years. We have enough kits, what we neeed is to be able to use the grant funds to buy parts, and not just from Pitsco!

Customer support did say that they need and want our feedback! Please, take the time to write a GP email explaining why this decission to restrict the grant funds to one vendor just doesn’t help the tems that need the grants at all!

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I’m fairly annoyed with the new policy as well. Generally speaking, our FTC program is able to run a net zero due to our incoming grants covering the costs of all our new robot parts each year. With only the ability to spend that grant money on the storefront, we’re going to need to come up with more funding elsewhere. Additionally, only being able to purchase 1 or each of the storefront items pretty much leaves unusable money on the table.

PLEASE send an email with your thoughts to the email address I posted above. FIRST has asked for our feedback! Let’s speak up. This new approach has huge negative impacts on a large number of teams. If we don’t speak up, then I’m afraid this policy will continue.

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I’m admittedly under educated on this but someone needs to tell me that FIRST isn’t just collecting interest on all of these funds that they aren’t allowing to be regranted to teams.


They aren’t just collecting interest, they get to keep any un-used funds at the end of the fiscal year!

Wonder how all those sponsors feel about their funds filling FIRST’s bank accounts and not the accounts of the teams they were intended for?

You’re kidding.

This decision should have some transparency behind it since it is impacting every team and how our monies get allocated.

  • What was the average size of these regrants in recent years?

  • How many regrants did HQ perform annually for FLL, FTC, and FRC teams?

  • What was the average # of regrants a team requested per season?

  • What factors led to this decision and was it limited to the 2020-2022 seasons or was data from 2019 and prior be considered back when teams were in a more normal state?

  • How much team money has been, *"…re-designated based on sponsor intent" in prior seasons.

Team leads were emailed in June of last year that the regrant window closed on 6/30/2022 or funds would be re-designated. This doesn’t sound new, but less noticed when regranting wasn’t limited.

I do not see the announcement on FIRST’s website addressing any of these questions specifically for the FTC and FLL community who is impacted the most by these changes.

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@Justin_Montois , @BrendanB , @Chuck-Eng_8002
I’m glad to see this discussion is coming to the surface. That said, the only way this get’s traction, and hopefully corrected, is to share with FIRST how negatively this decission is impacting your teams. They specifically asked me to email them and share my feedback when I called yesterday. So, please take a momont and write a well worded, GP message and send it to FIRST at

A story about $550

The first time I experienced restricted sponsorship funds being “re-designated” into the general pool was in 2016, my first year as head coach of Triple Helix.

We lost access to just $550, and I was heartbroken about it. It felt like I was failing in a duty. Since then I’ve experienced a range of other failures, but this one still really hurts.

Here’s what I wrote then, to FIRST’s Stewardship & Database Specialist:

Christina, I am following up on this conversation from November and December. At that time I asked a followup question about my team’s apparent conflict between sponsor funds being applied to initial registration. I didn’t receive a response to that question, but I did see in TIMS that the NDEP/SPAWAR funds have been “lessened” from $2000 to 1450 to eliminate the apparent conflict. This results in a direct loss of $550 out of our team’s 2016 budget. We are very thankful for our strong relationships with our sponsors and we value every dollar that they are able to allocate to our team.

Recently I have been learning that several other FRC teams have faced similar issues and have seen their problems resolved in a way that is different from how my issue was handled. One example is [a 2xxx team in California]… I understand that your response to them was “You are correct that your Boeing funding can be moved to your second event and we will use your NASA to secure your first event. We will make the changes on our end to reflect this.” What caused their Boeing funding to be able to be used for second event registration, where ours could not be?

I understand that [a 5xxx team in New Jersey] was in a similar conflict between NASA and NDEP funds, but this was also resolved in a way that allowed both grants to be applied in full to their 2016 event registration. What caused their NDEP funding to be able to be used for second event registration, where ours could not be?

This is my first year as a head coach of an FRC team, and this was my first attempt to work with FIRST finance on behalf of my team. It was a very disappointing experience.

Thanks very much for your help,

This didn’t get any response from either Christina or Frank.

The following year (2017), Triple Helix lost access to $5,500.

A story about $5500

Seeing the issue ratchet up by an order of magnitude, I decided to reach out to the team’s sponsors about it. Here’s an example letter I wrote to one of our 2017 sponsors:

Thank you, thank you, thank you for continuing to be an awesome partner to Triple Helix in 2016. We’re very proud to be representing Boeing at the FIRST Championship next week. I hope you’ll follow our progress… it will be a great show.

I’m reaching out to tell you that because of conflicts between restricted-use grant funds, Triple Helix has lost access to more than $5500 this year (about 10% of our annual budget). Some of this money may only be used to pay for FIRST event registration fees. This year’s Boeing funds carried the additional restriction that they may be only be used to pay for FIRST initial event registration fees. I’m sure that you have a pretty good understanding that registration fees are only about 25% (often less) of our annual expenses.

I’m asking for your help in advocating on our behalf to improve this situation.

I would really appreciate any advice you have about this. Obviously I am new at this job and I have a very incomplete understanding of all the technical and political aspects of this.

That said, I have three specific suggestions…

  1. Find and share the language that explains exactly what the fund restrictions are. Must the funds really be used for FIRST initial event registration fees? Must they be used in FY16, or can they be carried over to future years? Once I have this language, I can use it as a tool to ensure that the restrictions aren’t accidentally mischaracterized by FIRST finance.

  2. Advocate for the fund use restrictions to be lifted or loosened as much as legally possible.

  3. Give (somewhat more directly) to Triple Helix by way of our sponsor organization, Intentional Innovation Foundation, Inc. IIF is a Newport News 501(c)(3) public charity. You may remember that we discussed IIF last year… it was founded in March 2015 (shortly before I came on board as TH head coach) by a team of TH mentors, parents, sponsors, and community partners. Its mission is to operate and sponsor science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education activities in Hampton Roads, including (1) acting as a booster for the team and (2) operating our offseason competition the Rumble in the Roads. Being a small and focused organization, IIF can show, to a very fine level of detail, how its funds are distributed and spent. I’m confident that we can provide reports that describe how we meet the real fund restrictions.


In the end, this self-advocacy campaign aimed directly at the sponsors was fairly successful. Most of the sponsors I talked to were receptive to my suggestions, and several loosened their funding restrictions. We haven’t lost access to any grant funding since 2017.


FIRST needs to understand that these policy changes will compel teams to approach their sponsors and ask them to stop giving to FIRST. To a large degree, sponsors will listen, because teams can tell a more compelling story than FIRST. Teams are closer to the coal-face where the actual inspiration is happening.