Shortcircuits in action

High School East students competed with their robot in a recent competition.

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The 2 Million & Change program allows Staples associates around the globe to direct more than $2 million in donations each year.

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HSE’s Robotics Team Selected by Local Staples Associate as Part of 2 Million & Change Program

Toms River High School East’s Robotics Club has been awarded $1000 by Staples Foundation, the private charitable arm of Staples, Inc., through a program called 2 Million & Change that provides more than $2 million in donations each year.

The grants are part of a philanthropic initiative that allows Staples associates around the world to direct funding to nonprofit organizations focused on academic education or job skills. The program encourages local community engagement by awarding larger grants to organizations where associates are highly engaged in volunteering or fundraising – up to $25,000 per organization.

This is the first year the school has been awarded a Staples grant, and the application was initiated by a High School East graduate and former computer programming student. Alexa Leon, now an employee of Staples, recommended HSE’s robotics team for sponsorship and helped the school begin the process.

“This is exciting news because not only was it initiated by one of our former students, it directly impacts our students, and connects us with a local organization that is doing great work for the community,” said Superintendent David Healy. “Our district is grateful to Staples for this donation and commends Alexa Leone for her initiative with this grant.”

High School East’s Robotics Club is dubbed the Raiders Shortcircuits. In addition to competing at events throughout the year, the Shortcircuits perform outreach to elementary schools, using their robot to encourage interest in STEM skills and careers. The funds from Staples will enable the club to purchase electronic parts for the 2017-2018 First Tech Challenge (FTC) Robotics Competition.

“We have more than 30 students engaged in designing, building and coding the robot we’ll use for the FTC competition this year,” said club advisor Suzanne Signorelli who, along with colleagues Catherine Applegate and Walt Patelunas, wrote and submitted the application. “With this grant, Staples is helping us provide outstanding opportunities for our remarkable students.”

Technology remains one of five major Board-approved goals for the current school year, and this grant award is in line with a wide range of district initiatives that support and encourage technological exploration and advancement for students.

“This is a well-deserved award for a school and robotics club that has made a name for itself over the years in competitions like FTC,” said Board President Ben Giovine. “I’m certain the Raiders Shortcircuits and its team of advisors will work wonders with this funding.”

Among its three Career Academies set to open with the 2017-2018 school year is the STEAM Academy at High School East. Robotics and coding specifically are focal points, and the district continues to seek funding and programs that support curriculum. TRRS recently was awarded a $10k grant from SAP for a coding program targeted at intermediate-level girls, and is in pursuit of several multi-year programs to advance skills in coding, cyber security, and computer programming.

In 2016, Staples awarded more than $2.3 million in grants to 1,000 local organizations in support of education and job skills programs. Since its inception in 2002, Staples Foundation has contributed to thousands of national and local charities geared toward improving childhood education, providing educational and job skill opportunities, with a special emphasis on disadvantaged youth. Staples takes great pride in being able to give back to the communities where our associates and customers work and live, and are always looking for ways to create a positive impact.

For more information about Staples’ community and giving efforts, visit

For more information on High School East’s Robotics Club, contact Suzanne Signorelli at

For more information on district grants and opportunities for media coverage, contact Mike Kenny at or 732-505-5539.