Ashley Furniture donates $150,000 to schools for robotics education
Pontotoc County School District, left to right, Patricia Ellison (Director at Pontotoc Ridge Career and Technology Center), Danny Robbins (Board Member of Pontotoc County School District), Amanda Wood (Engineering Instructor at Pontotoc Ridge Career and Technology Center), Randy Tutor (Board Member of Pontotoc County School District), Dr. Brock Puckett (Superintendent of Pontotoc County School District), Earnie Gates (Ashley Furniture Industries), Lance Little (Ashley Furniture Industries) and Mike Hall (Ashley Furniture Industries).

ARCADIA, Wis. –More than 1,500 students will have the opportunity to expand their creativity and critical thinking skills This school year through donated funds by Ashley Furniture Industries, Inc.

Area school districts, near Ashley’s manufacturing and distribution locations were awarded with $130,000 to enhance robotics instruction throughout all grade levels in the states of Mississippi, North Carolina and Wisconsin. 

At the beginning of the school year, Schuylkill Valley School District, in Leesport, Pennsylvania, also received a $20,000 donation from Ashley, to begin their middle school robotics program. 

 Ashley offered the schools a grant opportunity to apply for financial support to either assist with establishing or expanding VEX Robotics offerings within their school district. Funds were awarded to schools based on their overall strategy for incorporating robotics into K-12 classroom curriculum and/or extra-curricular competition robotics programs.

Blue Mountain School, left to right, Kelly Gates (Principal of Blue Mountain School) and Robert Cagle (Ashley Furniture Industries).

With this donation, schools were able to purchase VEX Robotics equipment, allowing students to learn STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) concepts with innovative, age-appropriate equipment. Students in grades K-12 will design and build their own robot with the snap-together pieces and then watch their creation come to life as they apply the basic principles of programming.

VEX Robotics is a leading provider of educational and competitive robotics products to schools around the world. With multiple lines of equipment for different grade levels, the platform provides a streamlined approach to align robotics education in an entire school district.  VEX also provides curriculum options for educators to integrate lesson plans into the classroom and easily customize projects to meet the level of students' abilities.

VEX Robotics equipment can also be used for extracurricular competition programs where students are tasked with designing and building a robot to play with other teams in a game-based engineering challenge. Beyond science and engineering principles, robotics teaches students creativity, teamwork, leadership, and problem-solving skills.

Davie County Schools, left to right, Jeff Wallace (Superintendent), Landon Means (Ashley Furniture Industries), Bill Webb (Ashley Furniture Industries) and John Marshall (Digital Teaching & Learning Coordinator)

“This program is a great way for young students to learn career-readiness skills,” said Ron Wanek, Founder and Chairman, Ashley Furniture Industries, Inc. “We continue to support STEM education to inspire the next generation of skilled workers and help secure our country’s position as a world-leader in technology and advanced manufacturing.”

Benefiting school districts include: Alma Area Schools (Wisconsin); School District of Alma Center-HumbirdMerrillan (Wisconsin)k; School District of Arcadia (Wisconsin) \; School District of Black River Falls (Wisconsin); Cochrane-Fountain City School District (Wisconsin); School District of Eleva-Strum School (Wisconsin); Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau School District (Wisconsin); Holy Family Catholic School (Wisconsin); Melrose-Mindoro Area School District (Wisconsin); Pepin Area Schools (Wisconsin); Westby Area School District (Wisconsin); Whitehall School District (Wisconsin); Davie County School District (North Carolina); Blue Mountain Schools (Mississippi); Pontotoc County School District (Mississippi).


Whitehall School District, left to right, Nikki Ausderau, Eric Young, Kristoff Ausderau (Whitehall School District) and Kris Gengler (Ashley Furniture Industries).


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Karl Forth

Karl D. Forth is online editor for CCI Media. He also writes news and feature stories in FDMC Magazine, in addition to newsletters and custom publishing projects. He is also involved in event organization, and compiles the annual FDM 300 list of industry leaders. He can be reached at [email protected].