UTC has opened it annual grant application - earlier than ussual this year, along with a surprising message.
In their release they announce significant reduction in the amount of sponsorship - e.g. for an established team (>4 years old) they will get $3K instead of $4K this year and next year that number will reduce to 1k.
Moreover, they will no longer provide additional grant if you advance to District Champs or World Champs.
In 2018 if you made all a team would receive a generous $14,000 - paying for all registration costs.
In 2019 this was reduced to $8500
in 2020 it will cap out at $3K, and in 2021 it will only be $1K.
UTC has been a very generous sponsor for many years and has been critical to many teams - particulalrly in the CT area. While many of these teams have additional sponsors, this change will put significant challenges to many teams.
UTC has recently taken on a lot of debt with the absorption of Rockwell Collins, and their CEO is a former CFO.
While I was pretty disappointed to see this the other day, I am hopeful that the reduction in funding is temporary, considering the 2020/2021 amount is still tentative. I am glad that there will be more emphasis on increasing diversity, but hopefully these teams will not go the way of the majority of JCPenny sponsored teams years ago.
I am most concerned for teams who will earn a spot at DCMP or CMP but will not be able to attend due to funding. It is already incredibly difficult for the majority of teams to raise funds for travel, let alone registration. I have a feeling many more teams will decline spots this year and next year than ever before.
It is worth noting that this grant is tied specifically to the UTC brand, which announced it was splitting into three separate companies late last year. Link here. It is possible (not guaranteed, but in the discussion, from what I have heard internally) that the newly created Carrier and Otis brands will create their own methods to support FIRST. I would suggest to any team that has previously received a UTC grant to check with their employee mentor if their business unit will continue to belong to the UTC brand itself, or one of the newly created companies.
The announcement mentioned a “Redefining Futures Grant.” Anyone know if this has a set monetary amount or is it determined case by case? Description pasted below:
Redefining Futures FIRST Team Grant Program
FIRST teams (with or without an employee mentor) in a key UTC operations location with two or more of the following attributes are eligible for a Redefining Futures Grant:
• Rookie team
• Significant socioeconomic need
• 50% or more of team members qualify for free or reduced lunch rates
• 50% or more of team members from underrepresented populations in STEM fields
I’d recommend that anyone with questions or concerns about these changes should reach out to the UTC representative that sent the announcement email. (I’m not going to put her name on here, but if you have the email you can find it easily enough.) I had a conversation with her this morning, and she was very interested in hearing feedback from the teams that will be affected by these changes.
It is going to definitely go up, usually 3-7 teams bail going to DCMP, while 1-2 for CMP. Plus for some teams the UTC grant is their primary mean of funds, so I would not be surprised if some CT teams that have been around for some time fold.
Rather than an increase in emphasis on diversity - I see it as less of a decrease for diverse teams - - yes supporting diversity is good - but basically almost all will be getting significant cuts.
For a team that qualifies for NEDCMP and WCMP each of last couple years - this has amounted to a ~ $5.5K decrease in funding this past year and another $5.5K funding this coming year and another $2K the following year - ( I am less optimistic than Akash that what they stated will be improved)
While they state that teams that are 4+ years in are likely to have multiple sources of income (and hopefully that is true) it is unlikely they have enough alternate funding to offset that kind of reduction ($13K)
Having said all that - We have been blessed and maybe spoiled by the UTC sponsorship to date - but this will certainly have a negative impact going forward and create more seperation between top teams and lower teams. (particularly in CT - which after all is the center of the universe!)
I’m curious will teams that received sponsorship through Rockwell Collins now be getting their sponsorship through UTC? If so that could be another reason for some of these changes. From my time mentoring 167 I remember that Rockwell Collins was (at the time) much more interested in supporting FTC than FRC and most of their grants were going towards new events and teams in that program. While this new grant structure represents an across the board cut for veteran teams, the decrease is less relatively speaking for FTC/FLL than FRC, and FTC/FLL will see a higher increase in rookie team funding than FRC as a percentage of the old grant amount.