Ashley Furniture, Ronald & Joyce Wanek Foundation donate more than $226K to support robotics education

ARCADIA, Wis. – Ashley Furniture Industries LLC and the Ronald & Joyce Wanek Foundation donated more than $226,000 in grants to implement and support robotics education for schools near Ashley’s advanced manufacturing facilities in Mississippi and Wisconsin, and in Minnesota during the 2023-2024 school year. The awarded funds will allow schools to purchase and upgrade innovative, age specific VEX Robotics equipment, and to better enhance STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education and robotics programs.

Schools were selected based on their overall strategies for incorporating VEX Robotics equipment and curriculum into K-12 classrooms and/or extra-curricular competition programs. The mission is to provide students with the opportunity to be inspired by the excitement of hands-on STEM Learning. Since 2017, Ashley and the Ronald & Joyce Wanek Foundation have supported VEX Robotics efforts among K-12 and post-secondary education with more than $891,000 in grants.

“Over the past three years, both New Albany Middle School and the New Albany School of Career & Technical Education Center have benefitted from the grant program,” stated Melanie Shannon, Public Relations & Special Projects Coordinator New Albany School District. “These opportunities have allowed us to implement Robotics classes at our Middle School for students in grades 6-8 and provide the most up-to-date robotics equipment for students in our Engineering classes at our Career & Technical Center.  Ashley has been an amazing partner in helping us meet our STEM and workforce development goals.”

VEX Robotics is committed to enhancing robotics education as a leading provider of educational and competitive robotics products. Various lines of equipment are provided for students of different grade levels, their solutions and products provide a streamlined approach to serving students across an entire school district. VEX Robotics equipment can be used to support students outside of the classroom through extracurricular competition programs. Students are tasked with designing and building a robot that competes in game-based engineering play and challenges.

Schools receiving funds for the 2023-2024 school year include: Alma Area Schools, Arcadia School District, Black River Falls School District, Eleva-Strum School District, Gilmanton Area School District, Holy Family Catholic School, Independence School District, Melrose-Minoro Area School District, Mt. Calvary-Grace Lutheran School, Osseo-Fairchild School District, School District of La Crosse, St. John’s Lutheran School, and Whitehall School District near Ashley’s Wisconsin facility. The New Albany School District, Pontotoc County School District, and South Tippah School District near Ashley’s Mississippi facility are receiving funds. Additional benefitting schools include Lewiston-Altura Public Schools, St. John’s Lutheran School, and St. Matthew’s Lutheran School in Minnesota.

Ashley and the Ronald & Joyce Wanek Foundation have been longtime supporters of STEM education initiatives. The awarded funds provide STEM-based learning opportunities, scholarships, exposure to career opportunities, training, and robotics programs. Ashley believes that advancements in manufacturing, including training and educating our current and next generation of leaders for the workforce are a crucial part of our country’s success. 

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