Statement to REC Foundation Community

On behalf of the REC Foundation, I want to acknowledge the comments and concerns of the community regarding harassment and other issues at IFI. These discussions are never easy and the REC Foundation takes these concerns seriously.

First, I want to emphasize that the REC Foundation is a separate organization. We are not IFI / VEX Robotics. The REC Foundation is a 501c3 not for profit organization. We have an independent infrastructure, our own executive staff, operations, processes, HR Department, employee handbook, etc. Since 2017, we have worked deliberately to cultivate an inclusive culture to promote diversity in both our programs and within our staff. We have embraced change and proudly have a diverse staff. And we continue to challenge ourselves to do better and be better.

Additionally, the REC Foundation runs many different programs. We have Drones competitions, classroom activities, work force development initiatives including industry certifications and of course the REC Foundation VEX Robotics Competitions. The REC Foundation believes that the VEX Robotics V5 and IQ equipment are ideal for our VEX Robotics competitions because this platform allows us to provide affordable and accessible programs that allow us to reach more educator and students to give them an opportunity to engage in STEM through robotics. We do collaborate with VEX Robotics to develop the education resources and robotics kits for our programs just as we collaborate with our drones’ partners for our drones programs. This collaboration has successfully introduced robotics to hundreds of thousands of students.

But this isn’t why you are reading this post… I am fully aware of what has been communicated concerning IFI leadership. I know they are working on a response that addresses these concerns and will share with the community soon.

We all share the goals of providing an inclusive supportive workplace and to continue to successfully share our love and passion for robotics with our students.

Dan Mantz
CEO - REC Foundation

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This response? This does the opposite of addressing these concerns. IFI should be ashamed of their response, and you should be ashamed for standing by them.

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I am sure that Dan said that IFI/Vex ARE two different things

They can’t control IFI or Vex. I really don’t understand what your trying to point out here.

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This response is just going around the problem. I am happy that the REC Foundation is acknowledging the problem and this is much better than @VEX_Robotics response but it is still going around the problem.

I am 90% sure these posts are coordinated. However IFI’s post is a dumpster fire whereas Dan’s post distances RECF from IFI.

What more do you want?!
This just came out a few days ago, they have a whole competition to run and now deal with this. Give them some time to work because we can see that Dan does not rush out statements. Whether we like it or not he takes his time before posting(unlike me currently) and likely has to have some form of legal person proofreading in a case like this.

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If I’m not mistaken, don’t prominent members of IFI sit on the board of directors for the RECF? So doesn’t that muddy the waters more?

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Unfortunately it doesnt look like IFI was on the same page as you, Mr. Mantz.

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I am sure that IFI does not sit on the board of directors for RECF.

You sure about that?

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Dan,

Thank you for promptly responding. I believe in you having the guts to stand up for the values that you have been promoting for years!

However, I seriously think that the only way to avoid VRC and entire portfolio of RECF programs to get reputationally damaged beyond repair, is for someone like you to speak up in a forceful and unambiguous way about IFI leadership whose presence on RECF board creates huge conflict of interest.

Your response is a step in the right direction, but the time is ticking and no kind of “501c3 not for profit” status could shield RECF from the reputational damage that is about to hit VEX/IFI.

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Hi Dan, we met at the tournament in Arizona a few weeks ago.

You seemed/seem like a good guy so I’m going to assume you were as blindsided by the abysmal content of VEX/IFI’s statement as the rest of us were. In that case I feel sympathetic as RECF is definitely in quite a bind here. You mention your drone competition, and I get that your point is that the RECF is a separate organization, but certainly RECF cannot divest from VEX overnight without being decimated.

I’m sure you and your lawyers understand the scope of the situation a lot better than me, but in my view it seems pretty clear that the RECF’s best course of action is to denounce VEX/IFI entirely and demand a complete change in IFI ownership and leadership. Without that, VRC seems slated to collapse even if you stick by it.

To the users of the forum, you are clearly beyond justified to be (can I swear?) very upset about everything that has come to light, and clearly only a complete overhaul at IFI can have a chance at mending the reputational damage. I would recommend that you keep your anger on the correct target, because RECF isn’t in a position to do more than what I described. And once again, I can only assume that Dan expected at least a passable statement from VEX/IFI instead of whatever it is that we read. Before you leave an angry reply, please seriously consider what you would do in their shoes (plus add an extra helping of corporate caution).

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Dan, after reading IFI’s response, would you like to revise your response?
Not only has IFI not fully addressed the concerns of the community and offered no solution to the concerns going forward, but IFI has shown by their response that they do not support an inclusive workplace and do not share the same love and passion for robotics that the community has.

Therefore, is it still your opinion that “The REC Foundation believes that the VEX Robotics V5 and IQ equipment are ideal for our VEX Robotics competitions”, knowing that supporting the use of these products directly contradicts the core principles of your organization?

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@DanMantz , I would like to ask how the RECF sees it fit to have Tony Norman on its board of directors. Your organisation is dedicated to inspiring youth, but Tony Norman has come under numerous accusations with strong evidence that suggest illegal and immoral act. His social media accounts also contain very questionable and unprofessional images. How does RECF plan to inspire the next generation of engineers with people like this at the head of their own organisation?

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What I got from this was “tldr of REC and why they’re cool”, nothing about the current controversy in any capacity. Obviously you can’t do much here because corporations go brrr but you did not condemn Vex nor IFI for the actions taken, merely said “the discussions are never easy”, which actually, they are quite easy, vex and IFI are horrible and victimblamed/gaslighted the vex community. They do illegal business practices, immoral behavior, and have an extremely toxic workplace, and to top it all off they can’t even respond to it. if it was a hard discussion the entire vex community wouldn’t be practically unanimously against the company.


THIS is what the vex discord is now. A vex logo with a giant red X on it, and saying to do first. Didn’t see one person complain about the change in two hours of the community coming in and asking questions. It got so clogged they had to put slow mode on and mute a bunch of people. But all of those people were against your partners.

This is a very easy discussion. I can write it for you:

VEX and IFI are objectively bad companies in practically every way, and they should be condemned fully. A company in charge of childrens education should not be dealing with the CEO pulling a .45 on an employee casually, sexual harassment rampant, racism, misogyny, and people like certain head referees (who I apparnetly can’t say on here because this post will be blocked) who are talking to minors. (I believe Willow and Mary’s situation is more the vex community and outside of vex and ifi’s control, though just as important).

That wasn’t hard was it?

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@DanMantz If the REC Foundation is truly independent from IFI and VEX, then the financials should also reflect that. It is well known that IFI and its brands contribute generously to the REC Foundation, but exactly how much of your annual support comes from them?

For those less familiar with non-profits, as a 501c3, the REC Foundation must publicly file an annual 990 Tax form. Their forms can be found on the IRS site here: https://apps.irs.gov/app/eos/detailsPage?ein=352212630&name=Robotics%20Education%20and%20Competition%20Foundation%20Inc.&city=Greenville&state=TX&countryAbbr=US&type=returnsSearch

Extensive financial information is disclosed, but Schedule B, Schedule of Contributors is not included. Even if the REC Foundation has its own " executive staff, operations, processes, HR Department, employee handbook, etc." it’s likely to be under significant pressure to keep Mr. Norman happy to keep the support flowing.

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The fact that Dan Mantz said, “We have a great partnership” as an excuse to abuse is horrifying to me. And because “This collaboration has successfully introduced robotics to hundreds of thousands of students.” does not give IFI a right to abuse. Maybe its because IFI came out with such a horrific statement, that makes Dan Mantz’s complacency astounding to me. At the very least kick him off the board? Something? I would love to see these types of competitions continue, just maybe not with VEX.

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Thank you Dan for your response.

I recommend RECF create an independent group to evaluate the situation and present potential steps for improvement.

As a long time robotics mentor for over a decade, I have seen hundreds of students benefit from the IFI/RECF programs. I hope and pray for a significant improvement to the structure that will keep the organization sustainable for decades more.

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@DanMantz Why was the 2018-2019 RECF Annual Report removed from the RECF website?

Here is the broken link, which still comes up as a Google search result: https://www.roboticseducation.org/documents/2021/01/rec-foundation-annual-report-2018-2019.pdf/

Here is the link from the Wayback Machine: Wayback Machine

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Has there been any updates in regard to this?

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