Ashley enhances local robotics education for K-12 students with $144K donation

ARCADIA, Wis. – Ashley Furniture Industries (Ashley) awarded more than $144,000 to enhance robotics  education at local schools located near Ashley’s advanced manufacturing facilities throughout the  country. Funds were awarded to schools based on their overall strategy for incorporating robotics into  K-12 classroom curriculum or extra-curricular competition programs. 

This donation will allow schools to purchase VEX Robotics equipment to support STEM (Science,  Technology, Engineering, and Math) education with innovative, age-appropriate equipment. Students in  grades K-12 will now have the opportunity to design and build their own robot with snap-together  pieces and then watch their creation come to life as they apply the basic principles of programming to  their robot. 

“This donation from Ashley Furniture will enable South Tippah students to learn coding and essential  robotics skills that will enable our graduates to begin competing for and filling high wage jobs in their  futures,” said Tony Elliott, South Tippah School District Superintendent. “South Tippah is blessed to be  located in a county where industry, like Ashley Furniture, takes great pride in their commitment to  education. Ashley is making a huge investment in our community and their future workforce.” 

“STEM education is essential to ensure today’s youth develop critical computational thinking skills  needed to succeed in both the 21st century’s workforce and in everyday life,” said Todd Wanek,  President and CEO, Ashley Furniture Industries. “Beyond STEM principles, robotics also teaches students  creativity, teamwork, leadership, and problem-solving skills – which is why we are proud to have  donated more than $400,000 to robotics education across the country since 2017.” 

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 offer robotics education throughout an entire school district. VEX Robotics  equipment can also be utilized 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. 

“This donation allows us to upgrade our equipment and increase the number of students we can offer  this program to,” explained Arcadia Technology Education Teacher, John Peterson. “As VEX continues to  adapt and change their equipment to better the student’s interest and abilities, it also makes the students excited to learn about robots. This excitement sparks an interest in the high-demand career  field of automation and mechatronics.” 

The benefiting school districts this year were in Wisconsin and Mississippi. Wisconsin schools include: School District of Alma Center-Humbird-Merrillan, School District of Arcadia, School District of Black  River Falls, Cochrane-Fountain City School District, School District of Eleva-Strum School, Gale-Ettrick Trempealeau School District, Pepin Area Schools, Whitehall School District, School District of Mondovi,  Cornell School District, Independence School District, and St. Mark Lutheran School. Benefiting schools  in Mississippi include: Blue Mountain School, Tippah County Tech Center, Ripley High School, Ripley  Elementary, New Albany School of Career & Technical Education, and New Albany Middle School. Ashley  has awarded VEX Robotics support in year’s past to a variety of schools in the states of Wisconsin,  Pennsylvania, Mississippi, and North Carolina.  

Ashley actively participates in and supports numerous K-12 and post-secondary education partnerships  across the country. Combined efforts have included investing in STEM-based learning opportunities,  scholarships, providing students with exposure to technical trades and career opportunities, instructor  training, and robotics programs. Ashley believes, that 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. 

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