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FIRST

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Engineering & Technology, Scholarships & Student Financial Aid, 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

167 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Sara Milliron H.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a coach and mom, watching kids gain confidence, get inspired, and develop as a team is amazingly rewarding. They’re there watching each other’s programs run, cheering when it works, and helping their friends figure it out when it doesn’t. This is made possible through FIRST. From Core Values to fun science and tech, to Coopertition - this place has it all.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

5 years ago, I was asked to help teach some high school kids how to use the a 3D printer at the local makerspace. These kids were attentive, motivated, and willing to help other members learn what they learned. It turned out, they were part of a FIRST Tech Challenge Robotics team and they were building a robot for that year's competition. I helped out as a mentor for that team for the next four seasons.

FIRST gave these kids a new challenge every year - one that was difficult but never impossible. They help provide a competitive environment where cooperation, gracious professionalism, a great work ethic, and project management skills were all rewarded. For those loner kids who don't fit in, this is a blessing. They didn't need to be book smart to succeed- they needed to learn to solve problems and communicate to do well. This program is one of the best preparations for working in the real world.

Jim F.3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a volunteer, mentor and corporate sponsor I watch for the unspoken benefits of FIRST in preparing our next generation of clients, employees and partners. From technology, to planning, administration, project management, working in teams and yes building robots I see the program provide nearly every skill imaginable to prepare for the workforce.

After convincing myself this was for the kids, I realized that each year I learned something myself. I have changed some of my habits, and I have pushed my own limits. For example, I spent most of my career giving presentations. FIRST put me in front of thousands on a big screen! Scary stuff, but I go through it with help from my volunteer mentor.

FIRST is indeed the 'hardest fun you will ever have', regardless of your age or contribution.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Such a great experience for the students participating and the fans watching. Every event is a production and the character shown by the teams with their "Gracious Professionalism" is a model for all. So much time and effort goes into FIRST, but the outcomes are worth it. I've been involved for 10years with over 4,000 hours invested and I am looking forward to another year... truly the hardest fun you can ever have!

Donor

Rating: 5

This was the first year that I donor for this team, and was great, see how teenagers from different places in Chile work all the summer (south hemisphere) for a common objective is amazing on this times. Also, see their effort to be in the competition, because non-US teams are more difficult due that donors have no tax exemption, where funding the team is a harder job. In the end, all were proud to participate, even if they don´t get the grants/recognition that other teams in the US get.

Lesley R.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

FIRST is such an amazing nonprofit with a passion for putting tools in the hands of students. As a parent and educator finding a STEM program that ticks all the boxes in a hands on creative way is hard but FIRST does that. Their focus truly is on creating opportunities for kids. Not only is this nonprofit meeting a current need in our society but it is impact the future!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Note: I was both a client served and a volunteer.

My biggest regret was joining a FIRST team three years too late. As someone who has been through the FIRST robotics program and visited elementary schools to promote STEM, I would like to say that year was the best of my high school years. If I hadn't been in a team in high school, I would not have had the technical skill and expertise with CAD, machining, and programming that I do today.

Moreover, FIRST stays true to its tagline of More than Robots: the FIRST Lego League (FLL) program has a research component that lets elementary and middle schoolers research topics that pertain to the robots they just built, and the Chairman's Award for the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) rewards community impact. Most importantly, the FIRST community is supportive; it emphasizes building each other up and competing with integrity.

Mauricio A.

Client Served

Rating: 5

changed my life in an unmeasurable way, loved every second

Volunteer

Rating: 5

FIRST truly does inspire kids to work cooperatively and teaches them core values that they carry throughout their lives. As an FLL coach I can say that I have seen FIRST bring out the best in all of my team members

Keira A.

Client Served

Rating: 5

By doing FTC (One of FIRST’s amazing programs) I was able to learn about not only engineering but also how to work in a group, how to be a leader, how to take charge, how to listen to other people’s ideas, explain things that I was passionate about and how to be literate in the STEM world. FIRST taught me about Gracious Professionalism, which I try to live my life by day to day, and they taught me how to make life long connections that will last a lifetime for me. A lot of my closest friends came from FIRST and the FIRST community really turned into a second family for me.

Jj M.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

FIRST more than robots is the STEM education tool I continually choose year after year because it offers so much to all qho volunteer and particpate.

Michelle Turner U.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The FIRST family of programs are the BEST at engaging students and introducing them to the STEM jobs the world will need in the future.

Jeremy R. H.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Very rarely do you find a nonprofit where the volunteers so deeply believe in the program that they give up multiple weekends during the holidays to help at events. FIRST is one such nonprofit.

Amy McFarland B.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The best part about being a mentor (Team 2342) is getting to see students solve challenging issues and problems on their own, or watching them learn something and then turn around and teach it to another student. It is insanely rewarding. What my three sons have gained from being a part of this student run team is so much more than how to build a robot, they also gained valuable leadership skills, about time management, about fundraising, the importance of helping the community, all while having a blast with teammates that became friends that turned into family.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I am a writer for the Prescott eNews in Prescott AZ. I covered our local teams competing against each other in the recent water based challenge. I was highly impressed by the enthusiasm, teamwork and hard work of the teams. I was also impressed by the fact that the volunteers putting on the event included many former team members (although former is not quite correct as they seem to be members for life.) Many are studying or working in STEM fields. I now follow FIRST both locally and worldwide on Facebook.

Michelle R.4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

FIRST is a fantastic organization for young people interested in STEM education and careers. They get hands-on experience with realistic parameters (time, budget and materials constraints), giving them a true tase of engineering careers.

Donor

Rating: 5

I have donated both time and money to FIRST for many years - while the program may be built around robots the real outcome is preparing our next generation leaders to tackle the future!!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

If I didnt have this program... I wouldn't be attending college or pursuing my dreams!

Jamie S.3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Student for 7 years, Mentor for 3, Volunteer for 5. FIRST gives students a real inspiration, and makes them realize that it's cool to be into STEM. No other organization that I've found does that to this degree. I will be with FIRST for a very long time to come.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Awesome organization with wonderful mission. So many great opportunities to be had through FIRST.