Google Giving $500K for Robotics, AI Education in State –

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Congresswoman Suzan DelBene, left, and Paco Galanes, head of Google’s Kirkland office, right, meet with students at Finn Hill Middle School in Kirkland on Friday. Students assembled robots and were introduced to STEM tools and STEM activities. The school is getting support from to create a robotics club., the philanthropic arm of Google, on Friday announced a $500,000 grant to expand access to robotics and artificial intelligence education programs across Washington middle schools that will reach 8,909 students over three years.

The effort will occur through nonprofit partners Robotics Education & Competition Foundation, or RECF, and For InSpiration and Recognition of Science and Technology, or FIRST. The grant is intended to fund RECF and FIRST robotics programs supporting 1,234 new or existing robotics clubs in Washington state, according to a news release.

“Google’s investments in our region’s STEM education represent a strong commitment to growing much-needed future leaders in these spaces,” U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene of Washington’s 1st Congressional District said in the release. “In order to be competitive in the STEM workforce, young people need a strong baseline understanding in fields like robotics and artificial intelligence early on. Programs like these give young people the opportunity to innovate, build new skills, and open bright new pathways for their future.” 

The announcement came during an event Friday with DelBene at Finn Hill Middle School in Kirkland, which will receive support to create a robotics club. Google has a significant office presence in Kirkland.

Students assembled robots and were introduced to hands-on STEM tools by local Google employees. Students also were introduced to interactive STEM activities, including a VEX GO robot arm kit.

The Washington funding is part of a $10 million initiative launched by in connection with the company’s 25th anniversary to fund robotics education nonprofits FIRST and RECF, which aim to support future innovators and give back to communities Google calls home, the release said. 

“Robotics programs help prepare students for their future careers by teaching them time-tested skills — creative problem solving, communication, and teamwork — while also introducing them to new technology,” Paco Galanes, head of Google’s Kirkland office, added in the release. “When began funding robotics clubs in 2010, that meant teaching students basic coding and programming. Today, it means learning how emerging technology like AI works.”’s grant funding will enable REC Foundation to develop AI-specific curricula. It also will support the foundation’s work with local groups to support existing clubs and bring new robotics teams to every state where Google has an office or data center. To make access to robotics programs more equitable, the grant funding also will help efforts to connect with communities and students who have traditionally lacked access. In Washington, this means working to grow girls’ participation in robotics from 30% to 50%, according to the release. 

“Through the funding, not only are we able to start new robotics clubs such as the one at Finn Hill Middle School, but we can also bolster the existing robotics clubs throughout Washington,” Dan Mantz, CEO of REC Foundation, added in a statement. “More importantly, by focusing on underserved communities, we’re taking a giant step toward bridging the technological equity gap. The support from signifies an exciting chapter in the journey to empower the next generation of innovators.”

More information REC Foundation’s efforts to bring robotics education to Washington communities is here

Google’s Galanes was profiled in 425 Business in 2022.

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