Amazon teams with FIRST for robotics education grants

Earlier this week, Amazon confirmed that it would be acquiring Canvas, a little known Colorado-based startup that creates autonomous driving systems for warehouse fulfillment. It’s the latest in a long line of moves that finds the company looking seriously at automation for the future of retail plans.

Last year, the company announced the launch of Amazon Future Engineer, a program designed to facilitate STEM education in classrooms. To help launch the program, Amazon is partnering with STEM nonprofit FIRST to create a series of robotics grants specifically targeting underrepresented populations.

The plan kicks off with 100 schools in 21 states, starting in the fall of this year. The program features support for FIRST robotics teams and teacher education, along with an additional $10,000 in funding and a tour of local fulfillment centers. The company says it currently has more than 100,000 robots deployed across its warehouses.

“Amazon is helping FIRST in our goal to make robotics teams and programs available in every school,” FIRST founder Dean Kamen said in a release tied to the news. “In FIRST, every kid on every team can go pro. They gain a hands-on learning pathway in technology, computer science and engineering that propels them forward and inspires innovation.”

Earlier this year, the company announced it would be investing in New York-area classrooms, ahead of the (since abandoned) launch of its HQ2.