News

Team 1816 on Capitol Hill: Meeting with Elected Officials

By Simone V., July 6, 2017
2017 NAC Ready For Our Capitol Hill Meetings

2017 NAC Ready For Our Capitol Hill Meetings

2017 NAC Ready For Our Capitol Hill Meetings

2017 NAC Ready For Our Capitol Hill Meetings
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Team 1816 on June 24th travelled to Washington, D.C to speak with Minnesota Senators and Members of Congress at the annual FIRST National Advocacy Conference. The conference was originally founded by Steve Hyer from FIRST Team 27 - RUSH, who wanted the NAC to serve as a way for FIRST teams to connect with their elected officials and advocate for funding for after-school STEM activities like FIRST Robotics.

While in Washington, The Green Machine held meetings with Minnesota Senators Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar, as well as Senator Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin. The Team also met with Members of Congress Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-District 3); Rep. Keith Ellison (DFL-District 5), and Rep. Betty McCollum (DFL-District 4). The main focus of all of these the meetings was to ask these Members of Congress and Senators to support the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), specifically Title IV, part A, which gives states block-grant funding for after-school activities. Such activities could include STEM-based programs, like FIRST Robotics.

“[The ESSA] is not a partisan issue,” Senator Franken said during the meeting with Minnesota FIRST Teams 1816, 2502-Talon and 3130-ERRORS. “It’s something that just makes sense.” According to the U.S Department of Education, the ESSA “advances equity by upholding critical protections for America's disadvantaged and high-need students.” By advocating for the ESSA, FIRST Robotics hopes to bring STEM to underprivileged schools and students across the United States.

2017 NAC 1816 Team Photo at the Capitol Building

2017 NAC 1816 Team Photo at the Capitol Building

2017 NAC 1816 Team Photo at the Capitol Building

2017 NAC 1816 Team Photo at the Capitol Building
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Senator Franken has worked hard to promote STEM-based programs; he wrote Title IV Part A in 2015 and played a key part in having it signed into law by then-president Barack Obama in 2015. When asked about the ESSA’s potential in Minnesota, Franken said “Minnesota has some real strengths [regarding STEM].”

In addition to meeting with Franken, Team 1816 spoke with Senator Amy Klobuchar. The Senator made it clear that her office supported the ESSA; she added that “[recruiting] more people into science, technology, engineering, and math is vital.”

Klobuchar was one of the first senate members to have a bill passed under President Trump; the two bills support women in STEM, something that she “is a strong advocate for.” The team is grateful to have had the opportunity to meet directly with both Minnesota senators, and hopes to have garnered support of the ESSA Title IV, Part A. The team would like to thank Senators Franken and Klobuchar for their willingness to support STEM in our schools.

For more information about the National Advocacy Conference, click here.

Author’s note: Team 1816 met with staffers of representatives Ellison and Paulsen and received reassurance that the representatives support the ESSA. The team stays in contact with the representatives’ offices, and plans visits each year during the NAC.