Budget Includes Alliance STEM Requests

In the spring we discovered that grant funding for robotics teams has been pulled from the Michigan House version of the School Aid Budget and issued a call to action.

Our ask was to support the Senate version of Section 99h of the School Aid budget. WE SUCCEDED!

On September 24, 2019, the Michigan House and Senate passed a budget compromise that included language and funding for a number of competitive robotics programs used throughout northern Michigan.

Last year, Chambers were successful in seeking changes to Section 99h of the 2018-2019 School Aid Fund budget allowed for both FIRST and VEX competitive robotics programs to be eligible for state robotics grants. In addition, legislators boosted the eligible statewide grant pool to $4 million for both VEX and FIRST Robotics programs.

These small but significant changes led to explosive growth in both the number of new teams and competitions in over 450 school districts around the state.  That meant: more districts, more students, more excitement, and more STEM.

What’s even more exciting is that nearly half of that growth came from students and school districts in northern Michigan.

Some of the rough growth numbers from last year’s budget:

  • Approximately 120 new VEX teams across Michigan (45% increase),
  • 700 new students participating across the state,
  • 50% increase in number of VEX teams in northern Michigan, especially in rural school districts,
  • Nearly 15% growth in the number of VEX competitions, which means more opportunities for students to compete and hone their new skills,
  • Significant grant increase for FIRST Robotics, which continues to grow statewide, including hosting the FIRST Robotics National Championship in Detroit in 2019.

This is another budget win for northern Michigan. Thanks are in order for Senator Wayne Schmidt and Representative Aaron Miller – both chairs of the School Aid budget – for their work on finding a compromise on the language and funding to keep STEM activities moving forward in northern Michigan.

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