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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Education, Engineering & Technology, Scholarships, Scholarships & Student Financial Aid, Technology, Youth Development Programs

Mission: FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) was founded in 1989 by Inventor Dean Kamen to inspire and excite secondary high school students about mathematics, science and engineering. Many companies and organizations have established bridges with local schools to help ensure the future presence of a qualified work force, few programs have been developed on the national level. One program that has, and has been very successful in its mission, is the national robotics competition of FIRST. The FIRST conducts regional and national design competitions which demonstrate that engineering, math and science can be interesting, captivating and entertaining as a sporting event.

Target demographics: participants master skills and concepts to aid in learning science and technology through innovative projects and robotics competitions, while gaining valuable employment and life skills.

Geographic areas served: US and 80+ countries

Programs: The first robotics competition (frc) directly served approximately 72,500 high school students on 2,900 teams. Working with mentors, each team built a robot in six weeks from a kit of common parts, designing it to meet this year's game challenge, "recycle rush. " each team participated in one or more 2 to 3-day events at 109 locations, competing for awards for game scores, safety practices, teamwork and other qualitative achievements, stressing the values of cooperation and inclusion. Award winning teams participated in the annual championship event in st louis, mo. The frc program provided students with the experience of applying science and technology to achieve a specific challenge under a time constraint. (narrative continued on schedule o, pg. 149). This experience developed students' technical skills, teamwork and the ability to deal with the satisfactions and disappointments of a real engineering project. Participation in frc has inspired many students to go on to college, pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and math. Many frc coaches and mentors work in these fields and help the students develop bonds within their communities and connections to the workforce development pipeline. Students in the frc program are eligible for college scholarships through the first scholarship program.

the first lego league (fll) reached approximately 208,000 students aged 9-16, on 26,044 teams in more than 80 countries. This year's challenge was called "fll world class. " teams worked on game challenges using lego mindstorms technology, applying science and engineering to master complex missions to redesign how we gather knowledge and skills in the 21st century. In april 2015, teams from around the world met in st louis, mo for the fll world festival competition and celebration. The junior first lego league (jrfll) program served approximately 33,000 students aged 6 to 9, on 5,653 teams through a web-based game challenge called "jrfll think tank. " (narrative continued on schedule o, pgs. 149-150). Participation in fll and jrfll has engaged students in a comprehensive experience developing confidence in their ability to address serious issues, enhancing their education in science and math, and exposing them to a stem career. By progressing through each program and ultimately to frc, students gain a full suite of technical skills and ongoing encouragement, making it more likely that they will pursue careers in science and technology.

the first tech challenge (ftc) served approximately 44,000 youths from ages 12 to 18 on 4,445 teams. Like the frc program, ftc is a design and build experience but using a smaller kit and simpler game challenge. In this year's game, "cascade effect," each team built a robot and participated in a regional tournament. Ftc provides an experience similar to the frc program, but is more readily accessible to a broader audience of educators and students, in part because of its lower cost. The ftc experience simulates the excitement as well as the pressure of a real-life engineering project, developing not only the students' technical know-how, but also leadership, cooperation, ability to plan, patience, and teamwork. (narrative continued on schedule o, pg. 150). Like the frc program, ftc enriches the participating students' ability to deal with the satisfactions and disappointments of a real engineering project. The ftc experience expands students' interest in science, technology, engineering and math, and inspires many to go on to a higher education. Like the frc participants, students in the ftc program are eligible for some of the college scholarships through the first scholarship program. By progressing through each program and ultimately frc, students gain a full suite of technical skills and ongoing encouragement, making it more likely that they will pursue careers in science and technology.

the $118,030 of expenses and $3,345 of program service revenue reported are first place (fp) costs and revenue. Fp provided on-site research, testing, and evaluation of existing programs and hosted some training events and conferences related to program development and expansion. Fp provided local educators and students with hands-on learning opportunities during summer vacation and spring break. The first scholarship program attracted 180 colleges, universities, businesses, and professional associations. These organizations offered $22 million in college scholarships to first program participants. First provided guidance to high school students encouraging them to apply. Awards ranged from $500 to full tuition. The costs of the first scholarship program are included on form 990, part iii. The first volunteer program provided support to teams, coaches and our regional staff around the country by recruiting, screening and training volunteers who are needed for all first programs. An estimated 150,000 volunteers, including federally funded vista workers, provide much of the efforts behind first's programs. The costs of the first volunteer program are included on form 990, part iii. The following is the total cost, grants provided, and revenue from our first place programs.

Community Stories

6 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

2

Advisor

Rating: 5

Mentoring FIRST FTC teams inspired my teaching (I teach Computer Science) and invited me into the world of mechanical engineering. I saw my students learn lifelong lessons through interacting with each other, the students they competed with and the many wonderful volunteers who work in the FTC program. If an opportunity like this had been available when I was in high school it would likely have encouraged me (a female) to pursure engineering. I discovered that I LOVE building things!

Advisor

Rating: 5

Going to regional competitions, once as an advisor and once as the parent of a middle schooler, I've been impressed with the enthusiasm of the student participants. The kids really get into the program. They want to do well, for themselves, for their teams and their schools. The kids and the mentors put in additional hours, even beyond their commitments, because they're excited by the challenge. The children show a level of engagement equal to what I've seen in school sports. They're learning how to work together and how to solve problems -- which is something students don't always get in classroom subjects. The commitment I've seen from mentors is equally impressive. As an advisor, I've heard amazing stories about how participation in FIRST has helped children, and has motivated them to major in STEM disciplines in college -- including some students who had never thought they could attend college. I'm very proud my son participated in the FIRST program!

Advisor

Rating: 5

I became involved with FRC as an advisor three years ago. At first, the program seemed daunting as there were no blueprints or designs other than a rule book to follow. This was very frustrating to myself and the students that were involved.

With that being said, FRC has been the best program for both myself and my students to grow in learning how to reason, design for the challenge, utilize resources, collaborate with others, and in general compete with the resources we have at hand. For us, it has brought together multiple groups of students together who would otherwise not cross each others paths. Students who are mathematically and computer science gifted are natually drawn to this program, as are students who excell in fabrication and construction. All talents are required and necessary to make this project successful.

Advisor

Rating: 5

This upcoming season, our FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) team is celebrating ten years. We started in 2005with help from other FIRST teams and folks from NASA. We live in Garrett County - a very rural county in the State of Maryland, about an hour or so south of Pittsburgh. The impact of our team is beyond measure - affecting not only our students members but our County as a whole. All of our student members go on to college with at least 95% pursuing STEM careers - many receiving scholarships and entrance to their preferred school as a result of their FIRST experience in high school. In addition to affecting our student members, our team has grown to be the leader for community and school-based STEM education in Garrett County - sponsoring everything from summer tech camps for elementary school students to pumpkin chucking events in conjunction with local fall festivals. It's been wonderful for our team to have competed at the Pittsburgh Regional giving those who live in Garrett County and support our team a greater chance to travel to see a FIRST (FRC) competition.

Advisor

Rating: 5

We began our invlovement with FIRST last year. Our students were very excited about the prospects of building a robot, even though, we had no idea what to expect. Fortunately, we had three veteren teams in our area that pitched in to help us get started and before we knew it, the build season was upon us. It was the longest/shortest 6 weeks of my life! Long hours, everyday, but the weeks flew by as we prepared for the Pittsburgh Regional. As the day finaly arrived, our students were excited beyod containment. The event organizers in Pittsburgh prepared for and ran a flawless competition and our student's were fortunate enough to win the Outstanding Rookie Award as well as qualifying as the top seeded rookie team.
What an experience for our student's! Many of them were able to solidify their career choices as engineers and computer programmers after the experience provided by FIRST and the organizers in Pittsburgh. My thanks to all involved in making this experience a great one for all of my students and the great number of students from all of the other schools represented. I can't wait to go again this coming year. Our students are getting excited as they begin making preparatiions for another build season.

Advisor

Rating: 5

I started volunteering with FIRST in 2008 as an assistant coach. I became a head FRC coach in 2010 and started an FTC team in 2011. The impact FIRST has had on our students is immeasurable. I have watched the kids grow from wide-eyed freshmen to true leaders and professionals. Time spent with FIRST is very well spent, and I plan to continue serving FIRST as long as I can. Personally, I have changed since starting with FIRST. I find myself regularly doing community service now, and I like it! FIRST is an amazing experience for the students, coaches, mentors, and sponsors!