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2017 Top-Rated Nonprofit

FIRST

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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

122 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Back when I was in 6th grade I joined this program, through FIRST I got promoted into STEM more and more. I am now currently a senior in High School and if it wasn't for FIRST my path I want to go to in the future would be vastly different. FIRST helps promote STEM and once I'm out of high school I plan to volunteer as much as I can to help promote STEM in today's world.

1 Kanika G.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

FIRST is an outstanding organization focusing on teaching children the skills and characteristics that are necessary to make them successful in STEM fields. My son has gained programming skills, engineering and technical design skills, research skills, an increased understanding of physics concepts, and core values such as teamwork, perseverance, collaboration and professionalism.

My son has also learned about real world issues as he and his team research the challenges and identify solutions.

FIRST provides many resources that help both coaches and students gain additional skills as we work towards completing challenges and we have found these resources increasing and improving over the past three years that we have been participating in FIRST Lego League.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I started out with FIRST by joining Jr. FLL. I did that for a year, then moved on to FLL. I did that for 5 years, on the same team each year, and we had pretty much the same group of kids every year. It was a lot of fun and I don't regret doing it. At our 2016 state tournament, they announced that there was a change in the age rules for the 2017 season, so that would've left the group of kids we had with 2 or 3 kids that could do it, and our coach didn't want to start with a whole new group. In addition to our team being over, I moved from Michigan to Georgia recently and had to say goodbye to it all. My coach gave me our Gracious Professionalism trophy from the 2016 season, and it's currently sitting on top of my shelf in my new house. We had a good run in our 5 years of being a team, and I'm really going to miss it. I am glad I had the opportunity, and if I could rate FIRST a million stars, believe me, I would. It's a great program and I love that there are different levels for different age groups, so younger kids can get involved as well.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

It's super fun, all of our kids like it!!!! They stop the video game to design the robot, and learn how to work with different students. It's so great.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I was on a FIRST Team for 5 years (8th-12th grade), and I can honestly say it changed my life for the better. My mentors pushed me to be courageous, intuitive, and passionate, and my teammates reminded me everyday of why I stayed. With my skills that I developed using FIRST (self esteem, public speaking, social skills, engineering skills, work ethic) I ended getting into Princeton, the school of my dreams, and I couldn't be happier!

Everett H.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

When I started in FLL I was a shy third grader, when I left my high school's FRC team I was a different person. Being in FIRST gave me confidence and the ability to talk to people, if I had not joined a FIRST team then I probably will still be in a shell. I was nominated for the Dean's list which is one of the best moments of my life and became the team captain during my senior year of high school. Along with all of this it FIRST taught me how to work with people that i may not see eye to eye with but learn to put it past and work for a common goal.

Client Served

Rating: 5

FIRST is an amazing orginization that helped me get my start in IT. Without FIRST I would not be anywhere close to where I am in my my career today.

Client Served

Rating: 5

FIRST Robotics builds better humans. Their relentless pursuit to educate, cultivate, and in inspire young people to not only build robots but, solve problems, collaborate and chase excellence while embodying professional graciousness and respect is spurring society upward. My children participate in FIRST on a team housed in Kettering University's FIRST Robotics community center in Flint Michigan (FRC #5774). The cross pollination of ideas in the center (typical of Makerspaces and the University ecosystem) coupled with the diversity experienced on our Flint based team have shaped my children's worldview, expanded their skill set, and prepared them for a lifetime of STEM based pursuits. I encourage anyone to explore FIRST offerings and look for ways to get involved in this truly unique and life-changing organization. -Sarah Hodsdon

Client Served

Rating: 5

I can truly say that FIRST has had a humongous impact on my life. I'm going into my junior year of high school and 4th year on a FTC team but has been around FTC competitions and volunteering for the past 6 years. Through FIRST, I have learned so many skills. Many of which have nothing to do with the technical aspects of the program. Through FIRST, I have had the most amazing experiences and met the most amazing people. There's nowhere else than a FIRST event that everyone is accepted. The nerdier you are, the cooler you are. The relationships and experiences you have through FIRST will stay with you for a lifetime. And aside from meeting new people at competitions and events, you meet new people on your team. I didn't even know the name of some of the people on my team before joining robotics and now they're my family. My team is all my closest friends. There's nobody else that I'd rather share all the cool experiences of FIRST with.

Griaane

Volunteer

Rating: 5

What can I not say about FIRST. I have three kids and for the past 3 years they have all been involved with FIRST, and my oldest two 4 years before that. I have been very privileged to see my kids grown from JrFLL, to FLL, and now both of my oldest are FTC. Past two years I have even stepped away from just being a parent and coach JrFLL, and this year I am branching out more and coaching two JrFLL teams. My oldest two are so inspired not only do they compete but they also mentor younger teams. I recommend this program to anyone and everyone. Kids learn important skills that they will use for the rest of their lives.

1 Alex W.1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This is an organization that introduces girls and boys of all socioeconomic levels, races, ethnicities and religions and brings them together to compete in robotics: that is, it's competitive engineering for all kids. It's the only high school sport (that I know of) where 100% of the kids can go pro! More schools' budgets needs to go into FIRST!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

FIRST, specifically the FIRST LEGO League, is the best program I have ever found for kids. I homeschool my kids and it is a perfect fit. The educational opportunities through FIRST are unlimited, both academically and in real life ways that have led to incredible character building. Problem solving in woven throughout the entire program - from their project to the robot to learning to work with the team, and we have visibly seen a difference in our kids from our first year (4 years ago) to the present. I cannot express how appreciative I have been for this program.

As for my own son, FIRST has given him a place to express his creativity and his extreme drive for learning. It has given him a community and a place to 'fit'. If you were to ask him who his heroes are, he would tell you that those he looks up to are his peers; it is the kids on other teams that have left such a deep impression on him throughout the years. He follows other FLL teams, like some kids follow sports, and they have inspired and driven him to create more and think deeper. There are not words to adequately describe this programs impact on his life and his development. I wish there were. I could never say Thank You enough.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

A very cool program that gets kids learning about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) under the guise of building robots, friendly competition, and gracious professionalism.

Client Served

Rating: 5

This program is changing the culture of our world for the better. Pairing students with professional mentors to work side by side to achieve a goal with too little resources and time is astonishing.

Many people think that FIRST is just about engineering and robots but as someone who went into digital marketing I can tell you that what FIRST is: FIRST is an opportunity to be inspired. It is the platform that is provided that can launch your life by not just teaching the technical skill, but the soft skills required to be prosperous. Coming into FIRST when I was in high school I was deathly afraid of public speaking. Now I embrace it though hosting events, my own podcast, and articulating myself to be the influential person in the room.

I now give back as a mentor in my own FIRST program to hopefully inspire the next generation as I was before. Thank you FIRST.

Client Served

Rating: 5

FIRST is amazing! I'm in FRC, and have learned so much (both technical knowledge and general life skills) from the hands-on experience it provides.

Anissa P.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This organization helps students achieve their goals.

Client Served

Rating: 5

FIRST is all around great! Their progression of programs FLL Jr. > FRC and everything in between is a great learning mechanism.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

US FIRST IS A Wonderful STEM program that allowed my son to make new friends, learn life skills, teach younger kids, educated him in computer and mechinal engineering. FIRST made his high school career extremely successful, helping him grow from a shy child into a team leader. Being part of a championship team won him college scholarships to a prestigious engineering university. He is on track to be an extraordinary adult.

1

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

FIRST Robotics is one of the best educational experiences available right now. You build robots that play sports against other schools. It combines the learning of Robotics with the intangibles and excitement of sports. Strong students learn very high level skills to become real high flyers in life. Weaker students gain inspiration, excitement and motivation towards learning dreaded subjects like science, technology, engineering and math. I've seen at risk students choose to stay in school and build successful careers because of Robotics. I've seen smart kids learn the work ethic and confidence needed to launch start-ups and have them purchased by Google. I've even seen it save an entire school by providing a marquee program that the entire community rallied around, causing enrollments double. It is a life changing program for everyone who gets involved. We just need to keep spreading the word about this amazing program, because every student should have access to it.

Donor

Rating: 5

Having seen this organization in action working with kids, I can easily award them 5 stars!