How is Heartland BEST funded? (taken from our information page)
As you may have already determined, maintaining the required equipment for teams year after year adds up to a significant cost. In addition, Heartland BEST also obtains funds for awards, team travel funds for regional competition, facility rentals, office supplies, and yearly BRI copyright/insurance costs for hosting successful Heartland BEST competitions.
For perspective, in our first year of operation (2002) the projected cost of hosting 12 teams was $25,000 to fund all of the start up costs. Although following years have had reduced operating costs resulting from re-use of much of the returnable kits, our hub size has grown to host 25 high school and middle school teams. The net result an annual projected budget of $20,000 to $25,000.
In short, the answer to the above question is that our funding comes from generous monetary and in-kind donations of our sponsors. Local hubs do not receive funding from the national organization, BRI. As a local hub, Heartland BEST actively seeks out sponsorship from entities in the immediate area and beyond. Please see our "Thank You" page for a history of all of our sponsors and for an idea of sponsorship levels.
To summarize, we at Heartland BEST truly feel this is a great opportunity for companies and industries to give back to the community and inspire interest in engineering, science, and technology among our youth. One can hardly argue with the notion that we all share a collective responsibility for promoting quality engineers for the future. With new and continued support of future sponsors, we only see Heartland BEST's efforts to these ends improving.
Heartland BEST's growth
During our first year as a local hub, we met the minimum requirement for the number of teams that would allow qualification for sending teams on to regional competition. Since that time, we have grown to accommodate several more teams. As a conscious decision, we at Heartland BEST have limited our local hub to 25-26 teams. Pending additional financial and human resources, Heartland BEST may someday exceed hosting 30 teams.
In general, the number of students participating in the program has increased as the number of teams has grown over the years. Although there is currently a limit on the number of teams Heartland BEST can support, no limit has been placed on team size, student participation, or sponsorship!
Stepping back and taking a look at the "big picture," one can also see how BEST has grown to over 35 local hubs nationwide since its inception in 1992. Because of this growth, a second regional hub was created in 2003 (The South's BEST) and a third in Arkansas (Frontier Trails BEST). Therefore, sponsors contributing to BEST at the local or regional level can be assured they are supporting a growing national program.
Heartland BEST's reach
It's not so much the number of teams a hub can host that demonstrates its value, however. We feel a major component of Heartland BEST's success is its accessibility of the program to area schools. Our target schools are from northwest Oklahoma and southern Kansas, but we are thrilled to have teams farther away participate in our events. Depending on the circumstances of travel and our availability of funds, Heartland BEST may offer teams travel stipends for participation at our local events. As an illustration of how accessible we have tried to make our program, click the thumbnail at the beginning of this paragraph. This graphic has a heart icon placed at the location of every team that has registered with Heartland BEST in the past (with the exception of a team from western Colorado). Heart icons with a "2" indicate High School and Middle School teams from the same school district. The northern most heart is for a team located in southern Kansas.
Become a sponsor today!
If you are at all interested in becoming a sponsor of Heartland BEST, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our fundraising is a continuous year-round venture; so no time is too late or too early to support this program! There are many opportunities for sponsors to become an integral part of Heartland BEST. Depending on the level of sponsorship and desire to become involved, sponsors may have a representative speak at our Kickoff, present awards on Game Day, establish new awards, judge teams for existing awards, etc. For added consideration, sponsors can also fund specific components of Heartland BEST's events for more specialized recognition (workshops, the game field, kits, travel stipends, the prototype robot, etc.). We hope to hear from you soon!