Challenge Season Timeline 

mid-May: Team registration opens 
early-August: Season details released and kits begin to ship
August: Team practices begin
September: Iowa Qualifying Tournament Registration 
Nov-Jan: Qualifying Tournament Events 
January: State Championships at Iowa State University 
April-June: Invitationals and International Events  

Steps to Starting a Team 

  1. Recruit two adult coaches 18 years or older.
  2. Recruit 2 to 10 youth between the ages of 9 and 14 (grades 4-8). Youth may be on only one team, however a coach may lead multiple teams.
  3. Investigate grants and funding options. Many of these grants must be obtained PRIOR to ordering season materials.
  4. Register as a team and order season materials from the FIRST Dashboard website at
  5. Meet regularly as a team.
  6. Register and participate in an official Iowa Challenge Qualifier to celebrate what you’ve learned and compete with other teams.

Estimated Costs

Start-up Costs: 

LEGO Education SPIKE Prime Kit: $533.90 + shipping and handling
Supplies to build a competition table: ~$80 
*LEGO Education Mindstorms/EV3 or NXT robot kits are now retired but may be used at FIRST LEGO League competitions. 

Annual Costs: 

FIRST Team Registration: $250 + shipping and handling
Season Challenge Set: $95 + shipping and handling 
Iowa Qualifier Registration: $100

Grants and Funding

If you want to start a team but need help getting started financially, many grants are available through sponsors partnering with FIRST. Keep in mind that most grants require that you apply before registering as a team with FIRST.

FIRST also offers a number of fundraising ideas along with access to grants and scholarships offered locally, regionally and nationally by outside corporations and companies.

2024-2025 Grant Opportunities

Many of the upcoming season’s grant opportunities will be announced at the end of the summer. This page is updated as information is available. New grant availability is also announced via our emailed Team Blast Newsletter. You can sign up to receive this below.

Arconic Foundation partners with nonprofit and community organizations to strengthen its communities by enhancing education through skill-building learning experiences, promoting environmental sustainability, and advancing social equity. Arconic Foundation is independently endowed and invests in the communities of Arconic Corporation.


  • Teams must register with FIRST and hold at least a temporary team number prior to applying for a grant
  • Must be participating on a FIRST® team for the current 2023-2024 season
  • Team must be located within one of the following Iowa counties: Clinton, Muscatine, Scott

Applications Due October 25, 2024 via this link.

The grant application for BAE Systems team grants for the 2024/2025 season is officially open and applications are due on July 19, 2024. No late applications will be accepted. BAE Systems may prioritize applications with the following qualities:

  • Teams located within 75 miles of a BAE Systems site (see application for a list of our locations)
  • Teams with BAE Systems mentors; if you are interested in having a BAE Systems mentor, please tell us in your application so we can do our best to match you.
  • Teams with an existing relationship with BAE Systems
  • Teams demonstrating diversity in STEM (meeting one of the criteria below):

–  Teams affiliated with Title 1 schools
–  Teams with high needs (more than 50% free/reduced lunch rates at affiliated school)
–  Teams made up of more than 50% underrepresented populations in STEM fields (women, LGBTQ+ youth, BIPOC and LatinX students, youth with disabilities)
–  Teams with exemplary community outreach to underrepresented populations.

You can learn more about BAE Systems and FIRST on their website at You can find the application at this link.

FLL teams should not check out or pay for your season via FIRST until you have confirmed receipt of a BAE Systems grant.

The John Deere Foundation provides support for FIRST teams and events in two ways:

  • Providing funding to support FIRST strategic events and FIRST teams through this grant application and through FIRST Program Delivery Partners outside the U.S. and Canada for FIRST LEGO League and FIRST Tech Challenge.
  • Providing funding supporting our John Deere employee volunteers as FIRST mentors and event volunteers through our Power for Good, Employee Giving Program.  Employee earn rewards for the time they volunteer that they can donate to FIRST including to FIRST teams along with receiving 100% matches on any donations they make.

Funding levels will vary for new and returning teams based on team financial need. The grants cover costs normally paid to FIRST by teams such as team registration, robot kits or parts, and field setup kits. Examples of costs that are not covered with John Deere grants include registration for local FIRST events, open events, travel costs, and team shirts.

Key factors considered in evaluating grant applications are:

  • Associated with a school (public or private) or 501(c)(3) non-profit in the U.S. or a registered charity outside the U.S.
  • Team in John Deere Inspire home community
  • Level of support for underserved and underrepresented students including rural
  • Supported by John Deere employee mentor(s) or requested with grant
  • Any FIRST team with a confirmed John Deere mentor for the 2024 – 2025 season are encouraged to apply for a grant regardless of need or location.

To be considered for a John Deere FIRST team grant, teams must apply and get approval for the John Deere FIRST grant PRIOR to completing (paying for) registration. You can register with FIRST but SHOULD NOT PAY for your registration as you will forfeit receiving a John Deere grant. The deadlines to apply, assuming budget is still available, are as follows:

  • FIRST LEGO League Discover apply by January 24, 2025 (U.S. & Canada only)
  • FIRST LEGO League Explore apply by January 24, 2025 (U.S. & Canada only)
  • FIRST LEGO League Challenge apply by September 27, 2024 (U.S. & Canada only)

You can find the application at this link.

Through the generous support from 3M, FIRST® related DonorsChoose project funding is now available to any US-based full-time educators and school district employees who work directly with students at least 75% of the time from Public Schools, Public Charter School, Head Start Centers, and Bureau of Indian Education Schools. Funding can be used to cover the cost of important materials to support their FIRST® teams and Class Packs such as LEGO® robot or building sets, hand or power tools, laptops, tablets, 3D printers, and more!

FIRST Educators will create a project on DonorsChoose and once the project is live, they must complete this form to be considered for this selective funding opportunity. Projects will be reviewed to ensure they meet donor intent and partial funding will be allocated accordingly. Visit this page to learn more about this opportunity!

*Please note: funding cannot be used to cover the cost of FIRST team registration.

Team Blast Newsletter

We send out a biweekly newsletter to adult coaches, mentors, administrators, and friends.

When a team is registered for the season via the FIRST Dashboard, coaches and administrators are automatically added to this list.

Not registered yet? No problem.

You can sign up for our mailing list at any time.