The Doolittle Institute’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Outreach program awarded or facilitated $99,599.38 in grant money to Florida’s FIRST® teams. The funds will impact over 1,500 students across the state.
The Doolittle Institute awarded $12,599.38 to FIRST® teams, money which was allocated to Northwest Florida’s underserved students on veteran and rookie teams, those in need of practice fields and field elements, and their robotics kits. Teams applied to be placed on a 3-year plan with us, and the Doolittle Institute granted awardees directly. As part of this grant, we fund the team in their first year as we teach them sustainability. Thereafter, teams learn to fund themselves on an stepped scale.
Teams only needed a local mentor to qualify for our FIRST® grants; our partnership with the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) and Eglin Air Force Base allows us to work with a local Department of Defense (DoD) STEM coordinator and connect Northwest Florida teams with mentors working for the DoD.
The DoD also offered grants to FIRST® teams who already had a DoD mentor. These funds, which the Doolittle Institute facilitated and the DoD awarded, helped rookie and veteran teams prepare for the upcoming virtual season.
“We worked to collect applications from teams across the state who have already established a DoD mentor, and we applied to this grant for them,” said Lauren Bierman, the Doolittle Institute’s STEM Outreach Program Manager. “We do everything we can to find financing for teams.” She and our STEM Outreach team facilitated $87,000 in DoD grants.
In previous years, DoD grants facilitated by the Doolittle Institute were only open to the 16 counties of Northwest Florida. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, however, the Doolittle Institute opened DoD grants to the entire state of Florida. Our STEM Outreach team led the collection, management, review and submission of 83 statewide applications.
“We increased the number of students impacted this year, however we cannot count how many students, total, will be impacted by these funds because each team does outreach of its own,” Bierman said.
The call for applications is released each Spring to FIRST® Program Delivery Partners, plus our STEM Outreach Team sends an e-mail out to all historical teams. Grant applications are open to FIRST® LEGO® League’s Discover, Explore, and Challenge teams, and FIRST® Tech Challenge AeroCoast Robotics teams. We also accept DoD grant applications for FIRST® Robotics level teams. Funds are typically awarded to students enrolled in Title I schools. Rookie teams and industry partners who wish to sponsor teams can contact us to get started.
The Doolittle Institute proudly manages Northwest Florida Region’s FIRST® LEGO® League: Explore, FIRST® LEGO® League: Challenge, and FIRST® Tech Challenge: AeroCoast league programs, preparing today’s students to be tomorrow’s STEM workforce. The 16 counties in the Doolittle Institute’s local region include Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa, Walton, Bay, Holmes, Washington, Bay, Gulf, Franklin, Liberty, Calhoun, Jackson, Gadsden, Leon, Wakulla, and Jefferson.