What is the "Grants and other assistance/support" expense in FIRST's financial statements?

I was looking through FIRST’s financial statements from last year and was wondering if anyone could explain what the $20,000,000 “Grants and other assistance/support” includes. Is that all of the grant money that teams receive? (like the $5000 for winning EI)
2021 financial statement

I’d say that it depends whether or not grant funding is being deposited in a team’s FIRST account or somewhere else and if it’s given directly by FIRST via a sponsor. If it’s being deposited into their FIRST account, I assume that FIRST could claim that as grant money as the account is ultimately owned by FIRST.

For example, if my team wins EI and that restricted grant/funding is deposited into my FIRST account for registration, FIRST could probably claim it. However, if my team wins a grant/funding from my school district and it’s deposited into my team’s account at a standard bank, then I doubt that FIRST could claim that on their taxes/financial reports, as it’s funneled through the team’s nonprofit rather than FIRST.

Take what I say with a grain of salt, as I do not work for FIRST nor am I an accountant.

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I believe a lot of that is money given to other non-profits, i.e. program affiliate partners for certain states/regions.

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Do the program affiliates then use those grants to help pay for event venues?

The Engineering Inspiration grants come from NASA. Whether or not FIRST could also claim it on their grant sheets as pass-thru via the FIRST accounts (as @kellyissure mentions) is something beyond my expertise.

FIRST does also offer their own FRC team grants, specifically to rookie teams. They usually announce these after the NASA grants are awarded, aiming to help teams that were denied for the NASA grants.

There may be similar grants for other FIRST programs as well.

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As an expense line item any re-grant that funnels through FIRST will be on that line item, as well as, any employee cost specific to obtaining grants, travel expenses related to grant requirements, etc.

I suspect most of these items are from regrants that FIRST gets on behalf of teams and then uses it for registration fees.

From an income statement standpoint FIRST will put the grant as an income item, the registration fee charged as an income item, then the regrant as an expense as to not double account for the income and also accurately account for where it comes from.

It is to reflect the difference between a team finding money themselves and paying the registration fee and FIRST finding grants for teams on their behalf and putting it towards registration. So when I read this on the Income Statement I take is as $20Mish of the grants FIRST gets are regranted to teams or other entities.


It is the Office to Compensation ratio that seems hard to understand. A whole lot of payroll considering how every time there a mistakes made by FIRST, the blame falls on volunteers…

I think this is correct.

Are there any other large grants that you know about for teams that go through FIRST? I couldn’t find exact amounts but Nasa awarded grants to about 200 FRC teams, I’m guessing to cover registration ($5000). So that accounts for $1,000,000

Blame by whom? I’ve never seen HQ publicly blame volunteers for problems that result from their own action. HQ isn’t perfect, and we certainly could use some more explanation into the financials, but this seems unfair.


Some other nuggets…

Bank of Dean, or another generous donor:

In addition, during the year ended June 30, 2021, FIRST received a pledge totaling approximately $4.6 million, conditioned upon future events and performance milestones. This amount will be recognized as revenue in the period in which the conditions have been fulfilled.

FIRST also benefited substantially from the CARES Act:

During 2020, FIRST obtained $3,477,800 under the CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The PPP has specific criteria for eligibility and provides for forgiveness of the funds under this program if FIRST meets certain requirements. In June 2021, FIRST received notice from the Small Business Administration that its PPP funds were forgiven. The revenue is included in contributions and grants in the statement of activities during the year ended June 30, 2021. In February 2021, FIRST obtained $2,000,000 under the second round of PPP funding under the CARES Act.

Can’t disclose the total amount, but my company’s grants to FIRST teams go through FIRST. Our grants are not limited to only paying for registration, teams can use them for any team expense. I’d guess this is probably pretty common among large sponsors, it’s a lot easier to send FIRST one check and a list of teams than to deal with sending out individual payments to every team.

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DoDSTEM, Intuitive Foundation, Comcast, Lockheed Martin, and I believe BAE and Raytheon all directly deposit into FIRST accounts. I would assume plenty of others do as well

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“Blame” might not be quite the right word, since I haven’t seen it with malicious/angry intent - but I’ve seen a lot of threads where someone posts in frustration about FIRST mishaps and someone else responds with “hey, don’t be so hard on them! everything is done by volunteers!” Such as this recent thread: Why is FIM Michigan District points so hosed? - #8 by n3rdchik

I can’t vouch for the accuracy n3rdchik’s claim in that thread that all responsibility for getting district points recorded/displaying correctly falls on volunteers. But it’s not the first time I’ve seen similar statements expressed and thought “Wow, really? FIRST doesn’t have staff to do that?”

I don’t have the background to know whether FIRST’s payroll is a lot or a little for the scope of what they do/how much is done by volunteers, but I’m guessing that’s is the sentiment behind

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Others include Leidos and Bayer.
Leidos has given us $2.5k and an additional 3k for champs IIRC. Bayer $3k but it used to be $5k in the past.
DodSTEM provides 2.5k and another $5k if you qualify for champs.

Add Ford Motor Company, and PLEX as well.

Yeah I’ve seen people blame volunteers, but your original characterization was that HQ blames volunteers. Program participants vs. HQ employees is a critical distinction.

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Okay, I didn’t realize so many companies directly deposited to FIRST accounts. That makes it easier to imagine how “Grants and other supporting activities” expense can get to 20 million. Thanks for all of the replies!


For those of you not familiar with the Paycheck Protection Program (why would you if you don’t make those kinds decisions for your company), it was a really wonderful program that helped a lot of companies, for profit and non-profit alike, keep employees on payroll.

If you met certain criteria established by the Act, and administered by the SBA and banks across the US, then your Paycheck Protection loan was completely forgiven. This would remove the liability on your balance sheet and also become actual income on your income statement. All companies that received this benefit would handle is similarly on their income statement.

Many things were said in the news about PPP, but it got a bad rap. I know Sphero would have had to lay off many of its employees in 2020 if it wasn’t for thr PPP program.

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