ARCADIA, Wi. - Ashley Furniture donated a total of $45,000 to 26 different school districts, including $10,000 a robotics team made up of students from multiple districts.
 
The furniture giant sponsored FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics and VEX Robotics in western Wisconsin. FIRST Robotics is volunteer-driven and encourages students to be leaders in science and technology while aiming to inspire young minds in the areas of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
 
"As manufacturing continues to advance and the global economy evolves, training and educating our current and future workforce will be a crucial part of our country’s success," said the company.
 
With a $10,000 contribution and volunteer support from Ashley, a team of high school students from Arcadia, Blair-Taylor, Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau, Independence and Whitehall school districts will learn how to design, build, program and test a robot that will then be used to compete against other schools throughout the state and country. The team, TC Robotics (Trempealeau County Robotics) is also required to operate the program as if they are running their own business where they will learn and apply concepts of marketing, financial literacy, fundraising and website development.
 
An additional $10,000 was donated to the 7 Rivers Robotics Coalition (7RRC) to support nine other local FIRST Robotics teams.
 
$25,000 will provide 16 middle schools with VEX Robotics equipment, eight of which started their program this year. 
 
“We are ecstatic to see the growth of this program in western Wisconsin,” said Todd Wanek, President and CEO, Ashley Furniture. “We continue to support education to help secure our country’s position as a world-leader in technology and advanced manufacturing.”
 
"This is a great activity for students as it incorporates academics, career readiness skills, collaboration with theirs peers and just having fun with their friends!” said Kristoff Ausderau, Whitehall Teacher and Tournament Director. “We are fortunate to have so many high quality dedicated educators in our region along with a generous sponsorship from Ashley Furniture to provide these great opportunities for students."
 
Schools included in this donation are Alma, Alma Center, Arcadia, Arcadia Holy Family, Black River Falls, Blair-Taylor, Cochrane-Fountain City, Eau Claire St. Mark Lutheran, Eleva Strum, Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau, Independence, Independence Saints Peter and Paul, Melrose-Mindoro, Mondovi, Osseo-Fairchild, Westby and Whitehall.
 

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