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.

2023-2024 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 November 15.

Description: For nearly 30 years, BAE Systems has supported national nonprofit FIRST® to inspire the next generation of innovators, creators and problem solvers. BAE Systems Electronic Systems (ES) sector is proud to continue its support as a national Strategic Partner for 2023-2024 as part of ES Community Investment’s Tech Power Program. The FIRST®/BAE Systems Team Grant Application period is now open for FIRST Lego League (FLL) teams.

While all teams are eligible to apply for funding, BAE Systems may prioritize applications meeting at least one of the below criteria:

Open to Rookie & Veteran teams

Teams located within 75 miles of a BAE Systems site (BAE locations for Iowa teams include Cedar Rapids (zip code 52404) and Bellevue, Nebraska (zip code 68005));

Teams with BAE Systems mentors;

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

BAE Systems Team Grant Application, deadline is Friday, August 4, 2023

John Deere and FIRST are working together in commitment to fostering, cultivating, and preserving a culture of equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging which allows teams to be more innovation, creative, and make better decisions.

Team Grant Eligibility:

Post Season Survey (Requirement) –  Teams supported by John Deere last season (2022 – 2023) must submit a John Deere post season survey in a timely manner BEFORE submitting a grant request for 2023 – 2024.

Non-Profit or School Association (Requirement) – Teams must be associated with a school (public or private) or 501(c)(3) non-profit in the U.S. (i.e. 4-H, Girl Scouts, Boys & Girls Clubs, etc.).

John Deere Employee Mentor (Preference) – Although not required, a preference will be given to teams that have a John Deere confirmed mentor for the 2023 – 2024 season or request a John Deere mentor with the grant request.

Team Location (Requirement) – Team must either:

  • Be located within a 40 mile (65-kilometer) driving distance from the closest John Deere Inspire U.S. locations (Iowa locations include Des Moines, Dubuque, Paton, Ottumwa, Quad Cities, Waterloo)
  • Be in any U.S. or Canada location and have a John Deere employee that they has confirmed they are committed to actively (40 volunteer hours or more) supporting their team in person for the 2023 – 2024 season.

The makeup of the active students on the team must meet one of the following three criteria:

  • 50% or more underserved based on low income. In the U.S. this is based on the % eligible for free and reduced lunch for the school or non-profit overall.
  • 50% or more underrepresented in STEM which in the U.S,  includes Hispanic/Latinx, Black/African American and girls and globally girls, Indigenous, youth that have a disability or identify as LGBTQ+.
  • Rural teams  – In the U.S as classified by NCES as Rural – Distant (42) or Rural – Remote (43).

FIRST Teams with John Deere Mentor Not Meeting Above Criteria – All teams with a John Deere mentor or coach that don’t meet any of the above criteria are encouraged to apply for a John Deere Level 4 grant.

Applications for FIRST LEGO League Challenge team grants accepted until September 30, 2023. 

John Deere FIRST Team Grant Webpage and Application

Any FIRST LEGO League teams with a Raytheon Technologies (including Raytheon, Collins Aerospace, and Pratt & Whitney) employee mentor and/or coach qualifies for a company sponsored team grant. FIRST LEGO League grants come in the form of registration and product grants. Two types of grants are available.

1st Year/Rookie Teams:
FIRST Storefront credit for: FIRST Registration, FLL challenge set, SPIKE prime shipping & tax
Grant Value Amount: $1,027

  • Year 2+ Teams:
    • FIRST Storefront credit for: FIRST Registration, FLL challenge set and shipping & tax
    • Grant Value Amount:g $413

Applications accepted until September 29, 2023.


  • Open to rookie and veteran teams
  • No location restrictions
  • Teams must not have paid their registration fee prior to receiving their grant
  • Teams must have an employee mentor/coach

Only Raytheon Technologies employees can find more information on their internal website.

Raytheon Technologies Internal Website

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.