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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

69 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

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.

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.

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.

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.

Anissa P.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This organization helps students achieve their goals.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The best! I've watched kids step out of their shells and let their ideas bloom.

Diane190

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Incredible program for kids and youth! I have volunteered as a Judge and as a coach. Very well planned and organized.

Andrea151

Volunteer

Rating: 5

FIRST is a wonderful organization. I am proud to be both a parent of a member and a mentor.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I participated in FIRST programs throughout school, and am now a mentor for an FRC team. I had and continue to have a lot of fun, and I learned a lot of really valuable things. The main overarching concept I learned was what working as an engineer (of any kind) means. School (even college to a large extent) really doesn't involve much engineering. To me, this means solving open-ended problems with complex constraints as a team. I enjoy doing this, and FIRST helped me see how a job in engineering is a good fit for me. As a volunteer mentor, I enjoy working with high school students to help them discover what this means too. I think actual experience is by far the best way to decide whether you want to study engineering in college and beyond, and have some idea which area you want to learn more about.

Unlike school, FIRST's programs help participants learn "why" (why are we doing this? why aren't we doing that? why are we doing this now? why are we doing it this way? why is that important?). If you want to really understand something, that's the most important thing to know, and FIRST is good at designing programs which encourage students to figure that out, both on their own and with help from experienced adults.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Incredible! I've been hooked ever since I first heard of it. When I grew out of competing I started mentoring because I truly believe in their vision and I want to do my part to see this program reach as many people as possible

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Both of my sons participated in FIRST Robotics and it truly was a transformative experience. They had hands-on opportunities to explore and build, and to compete in the most positive way. What's really special about FIRST, though, is the outreach to kids who would not otherwise have a chance to build a robot or be on a team or travel to a competition. FIRST opens their eyes to the possibility of a career in STEM, and the experience of being on a team builds skills and confidence that make such a career possible. I now volunteer for FIRST so I can give back and make it possible for other people's children to have this same opportunity.

Mandy28

Volunteer

Rating: 5

FIRST is life changing and a great learning experience for students and mentors. Opens doors you never even thought were an option.

Colin S.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

fIRST is a great mentoring and learning opportunity. Highly recommend it for students and anyone else who want to learn technical or human interaction skills...

Shawn35

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Great experience for kids and mentors alike. They learn great life skills.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

FIRST is much more than robots. It is a life changing experience for students as well as adult volunteers, coaches, and mentors. FIRST programs offer something for every grade, K-12 and not necessary all related to science or technology. It is important to FIRST for the students to become well-rounded individuals in whatever they do.

Marissa13

Volunteer

Rating: 5

FIRST changed my life. I was a quiet, shy girl in class... until I joined my robotics team in high school. Then, I led the revolution of STEM in the lives of my peers and community around me. FIRST has become such a passion of mine that I volunteer regularly, and help organize the volunteers in the state of Washington. I can't recommend these programs enough, for students, parents, teachers, members of industry who can mentor young minds, and anyone with the time and ability to volunteer! I have loved the nearly 10 years I have been involved with this organization.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This nonprofit's programs help to fill the gap of global technology education and prepares student for real-life work experiences. It really is a program that gives students the opportunity to go pro in a wide range of careers.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Helped mentor an First Tech Challenge team 5942 and a FIRST Lego League team 1323.
The group has the best programs for all ages, no way to recommend enough
The challenges are exceptional as teams help each other succeed, nothing like other competitions, everyone shares their ideas
All aspects are wonderful

2 Kate102

Volunteer

Rating: 5

FIRST Robotics has forever changed my life. I have found my passion. I have never found somewhere I have been this happy. It is by far one of the most phenomenal experience any person can have, no matter how old!