Under the Hood with High Tech Kids

by Admin


HIgh Tech KidsLast month we introduced Under the Hood –  to better understand how technology oriented nonprofits in Minnesota function.

This recurring series is made possible by research partner Altrulytics and underwriter Atomic Data.

Over the coming weeks, we will publish individual responses and compile an aggregated assessment of the landscape with further analysis in the end.

Organization name: High Tech Kids; Executive Director: Cheryl Moeller

When was it formed and for what purpose?

1999 (formerly INSciTE) by Fred Rose.  High Tech Kids delivers fun, hands-on science, engineering and technology programs and events that inspire Minnesota kids in their formative years.  We inspire kids to BUILD confidence, CREATE opportunities and THRIVE in the 21st century.

Who or what do you serve?

K-12 Schools, after-school programs, 4H, scouts, community educations, home school teams

How many do you serve?

4500+ kids in 2013 & 5100 in 2014.  1,400 adult coaches receive training, workshops, research, programming classes.


What are the main programs/resources that you offer?

First Lego League: Robotics track for kids to learn how to program on LEGO Mindstorms.  (621 teams this year x 7 kids/team = 4,200 participating)

First Tech Challenge: Also based on the Mindstorm controller where kids use metal & 3D printed parts and program Robot C + Labview  (106 teams this year x 7 kids/team = 700+ participating)

Do you have earned income and if so, how?

Yes, we had (35%) $68,494.44 in earned income last fiscal year (2013). Our earned income includes FIRST LEGO League regional tournament registration fees, FIRST Tech Challenge qualifier tournament registration fees, merchandise (souvenir apparel, pens, pencils, etc.), FIRST LEGO League State tournament registration fees, workshops/trainings fees, LEGO kits (we sell last year’s kits), Renewable Energy Challenge tournament fees and interest income.

What key metrics do you use and how do you measure the impact of your org? 

Growth for us is returning teams, coaches retention, coaches survey, returning volunteers, Toodles studies & program data.

How do you source funding and can you provide us with three years most recent tax returns?

Donors provide majority of the funding, then sponsorships & grants, earned income: [2013]  [2012] | [2011] | [2010]

Do donors fund the organization as a whole, specific programs and/or something else?

About 65% of our funding goes to First Lego League, and First Tech Challenge is 22%, and the remainder is for two other smaller programs.  Leftover money goes to 30 teams in targeted areas (all girls teams, high poverty teams, & STEM underserved).

Given the options of nonprofits to support in the technology industry, what makes yours unique?

(1) Our robotics competitions are based around core values.

(2) The theme-based collaborative missions help kids build interpersonal skills.

(3) We only have a staff/overhead of 2.5 people.

Who is on the executive board of your organization?

Kirsten Stone – Chair; Director, Chief Patent Counsel & Intellectual Property, H.B. Fuller Company
Sara Garner – Vice Chair; Human Resources Sr. Manager, Best Buy
Mike Saarela – Treasurer; CPA and Senior Manager, Mahoney, Ulbrich, Christiansen, Russ P.A.
Kevin Hansen – Secretary; Vice President, Data Center Strategy Thomson Reuters
Dan Carlson – BOD, Senior Engineering Systems Specialist, 3M
Steve Crouch – BOD, Dean of the University of Minnesota, CSE
John Samuelson – BOD, Senior Director, Medtronic
Steve Vrchota – BOD, Engineer, Great River Energy
Camille Chang Gilmore – BOD, VP of Human Resources, Boston Scientific
Paul Keeney – BOD, Technology Educator and LEGO Certified Trainer, Teacher, Oakview Middle School
Mark Schleusner – BOD, Architect and Developer, Mayo Clinic

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Volunteers are our lifeblood! Contact us to get involved: Caitie@hightechkids.org


Under the Hood with Minnesota Computers for Schools