The Robotics Education & Competition (REC) Foundation and Amazon partnered to bring Native American and Indigenous teams together for the 4th annual Southwest Native American Showcase in Whiteriver, Arizona. This event offered a unique opportunity for students to showcase their robotics skills and earn coveted spots at the 2024 VEX Robotics World Championship, the world’s largest robotics competition.
This collaboration with Amazon, Indigitize, an organization that makes computer science more accessible to Indigenous communities, and Google demonstrates a shared commitment to foster STEM-related learning and workforce development among Native American and Indigenous students.
The 4th annual Southwest Native American Showcase had more than 250 students competing for several days. These students represent diverse tribes from Arizona, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. Amazon’s generous support is instrumental in enabling these teams and their coaches to attend this event at no cost. Without this partnership, many of these tribes might miss the chance to participate in such an enriching experience.
“We are excited to join forces with Amazon with additional support from Indigitize and Google to create meaningful opportunities for Native American and Indigenous students in robotics. This partnership represents a commitment to bridge the gap in STEM education and provide these communities with the tools and support they need to thrive,” says Dan Mantz, CEO of the REC Foundation. “Together, we can help inspire and prepare these students for technology careers.”
Through these partnerships, the support will cover travel, lodging, and competition expenses for participating teams hailing from regions throughout the United States. This invaluable support ensures that students and educators from middle and high schools can immerse themselves in STEM knowledge and explore exciting career possibilities.
“We’re thrilled to partner with the REC Foundation for the Southwest Native American Showcase to increase access to culturally responsive CS education and career exploration opportunities for Indigenous youth,” says Victor Reinoso, global director of Amazon’s philanthropic education initiatives. “This current generation of students will soon enter a fast-changing workforce in need of innovative thinkers. The Showcase presents an opportunity for students to dream big by engaging them in unique robotics activities that will challenge their problem-solving skills. Through our partnership, we can help encourage students to lead, break barriers, and create positive change in their communities and globally.”
In addition to the competition, the REC Foundation is extending invitations to students and educators from six Native American school districts in Arizona to introduce them to the robotics program and opportunities. To learn more about REC Foundation’s robotics program, visit roboticseducation.org.