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FIRST

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Nonprofit Overview

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

Mission: The mission of FIRST is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.

Geographic areas served: 100+ countries

Community Stories

180 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Gabriella Gyurko A.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Team even has a rock band now - because - this is not just a robot

Client Served

Rating: 5

Well, i had been for 3 years on a tram omg FTC. It is such an amazing experience. We had learned many things while this competition. One of the things i like the most is that is international; I’m from Mexico, but this didn’t stop us of competing on our country. Here you learn many things. here also the team learned a new vision, how besides the robot we need to be, it has a lot of humanity this competition. Being a member of a member of a team of FTC had changed my life.

Also because of this competition we had also changed our community. We want to inspire others to learn about STEM, so we went to other schools and teach a little about FIRST vision.
Greetings from Hermosillo, Sonora.

Client Served

Rating: 5

FIRST is an organization designed to prepare kids for careers in STEM through competitive robotics. It's been a huge factor in making my high school years rewarding and fulfilling as well as giving them direction: through FIRST, I was able to gain hands-on career-level experience in what I really want to do: software engineering. Not only that, I was able to do it with a tight-knit community of like-minded kids, while making friends with other students from all over the world. Each year, every team designs and builds an 120 pound robot from scratch in just six weeks, to take part in a set challenge. Students learn skills such as design, CAD, electrical, mechanical, and software engineering, project management, and business skills needed to fundraise and keep the team going. It's been one of the most exciting and profitable things I've done with the past four years and I want to continue in the program as a mentor once I graduate high school.

Client Served

Rating: 5

FIRST has enabled me to learn about the uses of stem and robotics and to compete against and work together with many other stem enthusiasts on my team and others.

Kevin S.6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I encountered First Robotics in 1992. Working with my engineering coworkers and teaching the students about the design process was really fun. Seeing the reaction of the students when a design went from the whiteboard to a fully functioning robot was priceless. So many students gave engineering a second look and a few of those students are now coworkers in my engineering department. As an additional benefit, working with my fellow engineers, outside of the workplace, really enhanced our cooperation on work projects. FIRST robotics is a great program for students and engineers.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I joined a FIRST Robotics Competition team my senior year of high school, it was a fantastic experience and inspired me to become an engineer. I've now been mentoring FIRST Robotics Competition teams for five years, and have seen the tremendous impact FIRST has on my students and others in our community. Unlike many other STEM programs, FIRST connects students with industry mentors who guide them through intense design challenges, showing them that they have what it takes to be an engineer, and often help them to get jobs and internships after graduation.

Client Served

Rating: 5

FIRST through their competitions has greatly affected me in the following ways: my critical thinking skills has improved, touch of excellence in everything, organizational skills too. The impact of FIRST on my students is amazing too, it makes them critical and creative thinkers.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Find another organization that has such a massive impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of students each and every year, I dare you. FIRST isn't just a charity, its a pathway for your life. I started FIRST over 4 years ago while I was in high school, and now I mentor for two teams while being a full time college student. I help guide others towards their passion in engineering, while continuing to learn these skills myself. My decision to join FIRST has impacted my life greater than any other decision I have ever made, and FIRST continues to inspire a huge portion of the next generation of engineers, technicians, and scientists. Not only does this provide a huge benefit to these students, but it makes an immeasurable impact on the world around us. The next great discoveries, or breakthrough companies, or amazing achievements in the world of STEM, will probably come from someone who was inspired and participated in FIRST programs.

Erica Garver P.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Volunteering with FIRST has been the most rewarding experience. You get to see the immediate impact your volunteer role has on the program/ youth. Whether you volunteer at a competition or work directly with a team as a mentor, the experience is so gratifying. All skill levels are welcome, you don't have to be technical to have a meaningful role or to create impact. Having the opportunity to work with the youth at FIRST is inspiring and makes me feel optimistic about our future!

Advisor

Rating: 5

I first discovered FIRST when my son did FIRST LEGO LEAGUE in the fifth grade. He and his friends had so much fun, they went on to do the Penn State Fire Fighting competition on their own. When I began teaching (my second? career) a few years later, I brought his NXT equipment and other Lego supplies to the HS in Philadelphia where I taught math and science. There I initially set up a robotics club using the NXT equipment, but at the HS level we had aged out of the FLL competition. So back to Penn State we went. My all female minority team was spotted there and we received a grant to become the first FIRST Tech Challenge team in the city of Philadelphia!
I no longer teach in Philadelphia, but I am still involved because I believe this is one of the most supportive, amazing programs out there for all students - any age, any ability. The growth in confidence, the development of communication and collaboration skills, the embracing of core values and gracious professionalism inspire me every day. I now mentor 10+ teams from FLL through FRC, and work relentlessly to bring this program to others in my area.

1 Koko P.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I know it's a cliche but FIRST has absolutely changed my life! It has given me a great sense of purpose and self worth. I fully dedicated my life to the program and see no end to my dedication. I have never met a group of kinder, driven and capable people in my life! It will not save the world but is a great resource for anyone who is involved!

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved with FIRST Robotics for 12 years.
While I no longer FIRST will save the world from itself (our problems are too diverse and deep for any one size fits all solution) I do believe FIRST is one of the best tools to help you cope with the uncertain future facing our youth.
The level of professionalism this program has is amazing. From the game production. to the distribution of kits to teams to the amazing events. I think the polished production helps FIRST spread the word. It actually comes off as more legit than Battlebots which I felt was more of a disorganized exhibition that a competition.
FIRST not only teaches kids skills that help with STEM activities but life skills as well. Accountability.Responsibility. Integrity. Creativity. Personal growth that will help these students (and often the adults as well) get further in life. I endorse FIRST to anyone who's ear I can mange to catch to tell them about this amazing program.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I am a mentor of two high school teams that participate in the FIRST FRC program. I also have worked with the FIRST Louisiana Mississippi Region President and Director to assist them in developing their regional strategy.

I have found the FIRST organization to be highly professional. It is well-run, with excellent focus on ethics and on delivering meaningful results -- namely the development and inspiration of youth to pursue STEM interests and careers.

As a retired engineer and corporate executive in a STEM industry, I believe that this organization is extremely important to the future of our society, of the environment, and of our economy.

FIRST is one of the few organizations that my wife and I choose to support.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

What this program does for kids, their education and self-confidence is amazing! It is a sport like no other sport!

1 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.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I can’t stress enough how important FIRST is to me. I found robotics at a very hard time in my life but it brought me such joy and began to make the pain of that time go away. FIRST teaches kids not just about robotics but about how to be a good person. I truely believe FIRST will create generations of skilled engineers, programmers and even film makers, writers, businesspeople and leaders ( because of the varied aspects of the FIRST programs) who will not only be able to change the world but will have the values and morals to want to Change it for the better. I am so proud to be a part of FIRST, an organization that has helped me learn how I can use my talents to help others.

Susan Barclay N.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

This organization made my youngest daughter come to life. Thank you so very, very much. ❤