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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

5 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


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.


Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

The FIRST Robotics program has given 4-H members a wonderful opportunity: to work together with youth from various schools, mentor youth, learn from experts in the engineering field, time management skills, decision making skills and creative development. Youth who have been involved learned a great deal from the adult mentors and industry experts who offered to help. In the community, publicity from the project created a greater awareness of opportunities in the science field and robotics in our town. As a springboard, a summer robotics camp was launched to help provide a feeder system for the high school program. All aspects of the project have been positive. The most difficult part is the funding area which is very competitive in a small community. Thank you.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 1

FIRST LEGO League is the worst Non-profit organization that I have ever dealt with. They are rude to their volunteers and claim that the Partners in the state will provide training, medallions, etc. They provide nothing to the volunteers, teams or children. The staff in New Hampshire are incompetent and disorganized. When complaints are made against a partner they do nothing at all. I would not recommend this program to any school or community. It is expensive and does not even come close to meeting all that they claim in their marketing. Save your money and use EARLY robotics or Vex or anything else.

Review from Guidestar


Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

For the past three years I have attended various FIRST Robotic Events both at the regional and national competitions, as Johnson & Wales University is a scholarship provider. From the organizers down to the students, I have been impressed with the different events FIRST puts on. Engineers are needed badly in the workforce and FIRST has provided an opportunity at such a young age for students to work on big projects. These projects have helped develop the technology skills that lay a great foundation for their future careers in technology. We look forward to working with FIRST for many years to come.


Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

First Robotics is a truly inspiring program. It sucessfully brings together industry, universities, and high schools to build and support the pipline of students who will go into the technological workforce.