Youth Development

FIRST (For the Inspiration & Recognition of Science & Technology)

  • Manchester, NH
  • http://www.firstinspires.org

Mission Statement

Our mission is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders 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.

Main Programs

  1. FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC)
  2. FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC)
  3. FIRST LEGO League (FLL)
  4. FIRST LEGO League Junior (FLLJr.)
Service Areas

Self-reported

International

FIRST has programs in all 50 states and also has a strong international presence.

ruling year

1994

Principal Officer

Self-reported

Dr. Donald E. Bossi

Keywords

Self-reported

Robotics, STEM, Science, Robots, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Leadership, Inspiration, Recognition, Mentor, FIRST, FIRST Robotics

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EIN

22-2990908

Also Known As

FIRST

Contact

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Youth Development Programs (O50)

Research Institutes and/or Public Policy Analysis (U05)

Scholarships, Student Financial Aid, Awards (B82)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?

Overview

Self-reported by organization

FIRST has invested in formal, external evaluation efforts over the last decade to better understand its impact and effectiveness in reaching the outcomes outlined above. Most recently, in 2011, Brandeis University Center for Youth and Communities conducted a formal evaluation of the FRC and FTC programs to better understand program outcomes, student and mentor perceptions of the program and areas for program improvement. Research conducted with adult mentors and youth team members found a number of positive outcomes for youth team members. Among them are:
-The large majority of FTC and FRC participants have an interest in learning more
about science and technology as a result of their participation on a FIRST team (95% of FTC and 97% of FRC)
-87% of FTC participants and 91% of FRC participants are more interested in going
to college as a result of being on their FIRST team
-89% of FTC and 90% of FRC participants are more interested in having a career that
uses science and technology
-The large majority of both FTC and FRC team members (over 90% in each area)
indicate an increase in teamwork skills, problem solving, time management, and communication skills as a result of their experience on their FIRST team

Programs

Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1

FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC)

FIRST® Robotics Competition - (FRC) is FIRST’s original and signature program. Under strict rules, limited resources, and time limits, teams are challenged to raise funds, design a team “brand,” hone teamwork skills, and build and program robots to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors. Volunteer STEM professionals serving as mentors lend their time and talents to guide each team. The FRC season culminates in March with regional tournaments that cap weeks of intense work and offer students the opportunity to celebrate their achievements and learn from others. Students test their strategies, teamwork and robotic creations in a high-pressure competitive environment, which FIRST prefers to call Coopertition.

Each tournament includes an average of 45 teams (students and mentors), plus parents, teachers, sponsors, and university and government officials. The continued growth of FRC regional events is crucial to provide competition venues in close proximity to local teams. Participation in a nearby event is beneficial to teams in many ways: it reduces the need to travel to distant states or cities, (which reduces the cost of the program); it gives local schools the ability to compete with and against each other; and it enables family members, friends, teachers, and community members to attend the event to support the students and celebrate their accomplishments. ) In April of each year, the Regional winners advance to the Championship held in St. Louis, MO. The program also runs in the off-season with workshops, local competitions, community outreach and the mentoring/recruiting of new team members.

Category

Education, General/Other

Population(s) Served

Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)

None

None

Budget

$23,406,868.00

Program 2

FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC)

FIRST® Tech Challenge – (FTC) is a more accessible program that is less expensive. Encapsulated components make implementation easier for coaches/teachers- particularly those without technology education background, and the program requires fewer additional resources from outside a normal classroom. FTC is designed for small teams of up to 10 high school aged students who work with one or two dedicated mentors to design, program, and build a robot, using an off-the-shelf kit.

Category

Education, General/Other

Population(s) Served

Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)

None

None

Budget

$1,061,135.00

Program 3

FIRST LEGO League (FLL)

FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL) is an international robotics program in partnership with The LEGO® Group that serves children ages 9 – 14. FLL has two major components: a robot game, where teams of up to 10 students design, build, and program autonomous robots that must perform a series of tasks or missions; and a research project where teams conduct research and present their findings to a panel of judges at tournaments. The research project focuses on common problems faced by communities and nurtures scientific discovery, writing and presentation skills, as well as service to the community.

Category

None

Population(s) Served

None

None

None

Budget

Program 4

FIRST LEGO League Junior (FLLJr.)

FIRST® LEGO® League Junior - (FLLJr.) Focused on building an interest in science and engineering in children ages 6-9, FLLJr.® is a hands-on program designed to capture young children's inherent curiosity and direct it toward discovering the possibilities of improving the world around them. Just like FIRST LEGO League (FLL), this program features a real-world challenge, to be solved by research, critical thinking and imagination. Guided by adult coaches and the FLLJr. Core Values, students work with LEGO elements and moving parts to build ideas and concepts and present them for review. Through FLLJr. children learn the concepts of teamwork and basic design skills, and gain a hands-on approach to science and technology.

Category

Population(s) Served

None

Budget

Charting Impact

Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

  1. What is the organization aiming to accomplish?
    The ultimate goal that FIRST strives for is an increase in the likelihood of FIRST participants declaring a science or technology related major in college and entering into the STEM workforce.

    The short to medium-term outcomes to reach this goal include:
    1.Increase in the # of students interested in STEM.
    2.Increased awareness of the role of STEM in the world.
    3.Increase in 21st century work/life skills (team work, problem solving, critical thinking)
    4.Exposure to FIRST values (Gracious Professionalism, Coopertition).
    5.Increased applied knowledge or application of STEM concepts.
    6.Increased awareness of STEM careers.
    7.Increased feeling of connected ness to an adult/mentor/coach.
    8.Greater educational aspirations (desire to get good grades, take challenging courses, finish
    high school) and school engagement.
    9.Increased STEM self- efficacy.
    10.Increased interest in having a STEM career.
    11.Increased likelihood to consider college for any major.
    12.Increased access to college scholarships (FTC and FRC).
    13.Increased access to part time or summer jobs in STEM and STEM internships (FTC and FRC).
    14.Integration of the values of Gracious Professionalism® and Coopertition® in work/life.
    15.Increased team building and celebration of achievements in science, technology, engineering and math.

    The current FIRST strategic plan outlines the following goals: By 2017, we envision close to 4,500 FRC teams, 6,000 FTC teams, 20,000 FLL teams, and 14,000 Jr.FLL teams reaching approximately 450,000 students in that year alone.
  2. What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?
    Strategies incorporated in FIRST to encourage advanced STEM education include:
    -Providing activities that focus on real life problems and issues that have relevance to students: Providing activities that mirror real life problems and that are important to students promotes STEM interest.
    -Hands-On Activities: Hands on activities, relevant topics and cooperative learning strategies increases student’s engagement.
    -Mentors: Providing mentors in STEM who can model what professionals do may increase interest in the field. The likelihood to pursue a STEM degree increases when combining hands-on science experiences with mentorship.
    -Group learning/Teams: Cooperative learning (learning in groups) provides emotional bonding that can result in greater commitment to group goals, feelings of responsibility, willingness to take on difficult tasks, increased motivation, satisfaction and morale, willingness to listen to group members, and productivity.
    -Intention to major in STEM: Student intention to major in STEM while in high school may be a stronger predictor of successful earning of STEM degrees than GPA or SAT
    -Combination of Factors: Opportunity for success may increase when a program combines hands on learning, mentoring, and teamwork focused on a group goal. Students who participate in FIRST are likely to have positive short term outcomes; the more one participates in FIRST (program progression, length of time), the greater likelihood of longer lasting, positive impact.

    These strategies are incorporated into each of the four programs provided by FIRST. Research suggests that each of the factors on their own increases the chances that students will become interested in STEM. Combining strategies may further increase the likelihood that students will gain an interest in STEM, and over time, result in an intention to go on to post-secondary education and training in STEM.
  3. What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?
    The need for inspiring today's youth to pursue education and career fields in STEM are well documented by many sources. FIRST addresses this need in a unique way by giving students an opportunity to learn while doing. FIRST programs are designed to offer students in K-12 a progression where they become engaged at an early age. FIRST believes that the key to increasing the number of young people entering science and technology careers is to reach them directly through our programs.

    Since its inception in 1989, FIRST has impacted hundreds of thousands of students and the growth and reach continues as we scale up our capacity to serve more students. The current FIRST strategic plan outlines the following goals: By 2017, we envision close to 4,500 FRC teams, 6,000 FTC teams, 20,000 FLL teams, and 14,000 Jr.FLL teams reaching approximately 450,000 students in that year alone. Extending the FIRST experience to many more students throughout their school careers will make a tremendous difference in their lives, their schools, and the standing of the U.S. within the global community of scientists and educators.

    Measuring Impact: FIRST® and Brandeis University have launched a multi-year longitudinal study of three of FIRST’s
    major programs: the FIRST® LEGO® League, FIRST® Tech Challenge and FIRST® Robotics Competition Programs. The goal
    of the study is to provide needed data on the long-term impacts of FIRST programs on key outcomes, including student interest in science and technology, college-going, STEM majors, STEM careers, and practical life and workplace skills (communications, teamwork, problem-solving, etc.).
    The study is also designed to help answer questions about what elements of the FIRST program experience are particularly important. The FIRST Longitudinal Study represents a unique opportunity to document the longer-term impacts of FIRST on the interests, attitudes, and decisions of participating youth. The study will allow FIRST to learn more about the impacts of the individual programs, the progression of youth through different programs, and the degree to which FIRST experiences in middle and high school affect the choice of major and career in college. It is hoped that the study will provide the evidence that FIRST needs to support its continued growth and to gain recognition as one of the premier STEM-related programs in the country.

    FIRST began collaborating with colleges, universities, professional associations and corporations in 2002 to offer college scholarships to participants of FIRST programs. This is official recognition of the knowledge and technical and life skills these students have gained from participating in a FIRST competition. The program has grown tremendously through the years, and for 2014, we now have over 150 confirmed scholarship providers that are making available almost 900 individual scholarship opportunities with a total value of more than $19,000,000.
  4. How will they know if they are making progress?
    FIRST strives to alleviate the problem of a shortage of skilled professionals in STEM and the need for an innovative workforce by using strategies that promote STEM interest, knowledge, and learning and that inspire students to pursue post-secondary education and training in STEM. By exposing students to STEM through robotic-based challenges, opportunities to gain confidence and work-life skills, and an environment where volunteers from industry work side by side with students in the mentoring process, FIRST inspires students to consider an education and career in STEM. The outputs of this project include:
    -approximately 3,530 students being impacted on 170 FRC teams;
    -approximately 160 students on 16 FTC teams; and
    -an estimated 12,500 students will attend the FIRST Finale at the 2013 FIRST Championship. The short to medium-term outcomes include:
    1.Increase in the # of students interested in STEM.
    2.Increased awareness of the role of STEM in the world.
    3.Increase in 21st century work/life skills (team work, problem solving, critical thinking)
    4.Exposure to FIRST values (Gracious Professionalism, Coopertition).
    5.Increased applied knowledge or application of STEM concepts.
    6.Increased awareness of STEM careers.
    7.Increased feeling of connectedness to an adult/mentor/coach.
    8.Greater educational aspirations (desire to get good grades, take challenging courses, finish
    high school) and school engagement.
    9.Increased STEM self- efficacy.
    10.Increased interest in having a STEM career.
    11.Increased likelihood to consider college.
    12.Increased access to college scholarships (FTC and FRC).
    13.Increased access to part time or summer jobs in STEM and STEM internships (FTC and
    FRC).
    14.Integration of the values of Gracious Professionalism and Coopertition in work/life.
    15.Increased awareness of Boeing sponsored college scholarship opportunities.
    16.Increased team building and celebration of achievements in science, technology, engineering
    and math.
    17.Six college scholarships being offered to any FIRST participant. Outcomes are measured by using qualitative and quantitative data collected by using a self- administered survey delivered electronically to Team Leaders at the end of the season. Survey questions will cover the following domains:
    1. Impact of FRC/FTC/FLL on interest in science, math, engineering and technology;
    2. Impact on knowledge of science, math, engineering and technology,
    3. Change in 21st century workplace skills and attitudes;
    4. Quality of the program; and,
    5. Satisfaction with the program.

    Data will be collected, analyzed and summarized by program managers with the assistance of the Evaluations Manager. In addition, program staff monitor utilization data, to assess program growth and inform outreach.
  5. What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
    The long-term outcomes on students who participate in FIRST include:
    -Science and technology education and career path included in future “consideration set”
    -Increased likelihood and success in any career a student chooses, including one in science and technology
    -Increased likelihood of success in science and technology education and careers
    -Increased technological literacy
Service Areas

Self-reported

International

FIRST has programs in all 50 states and also has a strong international presence.

Social Media

Funding Needs

Donations of all levels are gratefully accepted and are tax deductible. For more information, visit our website, www.USFIRST.org. For information on FIRST in our region, see www.PittsburghFIRST.org. When you specify "for the Pittsburgh Regional," 100% of funds received by FIRST headquarters are applied directly to our local programs. Giving to FIRST is giving locally. Most pressing needs: Sponsorships and donations to support the Pittsburgh Regional FIRST Robotics Competition (March, 2014); multi-team events such as workshops, training, scrimmages, and outreach; our local Kickoff (Jan 4, 2014) that includes robot-build workshops, rookie training, and collaborative, multi-team brainstorming sessions; and to support our local FRC teams. Donations are also needed to begin new FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) teams in the greater Pittsburgh region. In-kind donations and volunteers are also needed, especially for robotics teams (parts, materials, mentors) and for marketing and communication efforts at the regional level. For more in-kind donation needs, please see www.PittsburghFIRST.org or contact the Regional Director at PDePra@USFIRST.org. Thank you!

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Financials

Financial information is an important part of gauging the short- and long-term health of the organization.

US Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology
Fiscal year: Jul 01-Jun 30
Yes, financials were audited by an independent accountant.

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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

FIRST (For the Inspiration & Recognition of Science & Technology)

Leadership

NEED MORE INFO ON THIS NONPROFIT?

Free: Gain immediate access to the following:
  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2015, 2015 and 2014
  • Board Chair, Board Co-Chair and Board Members
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Principal Officer

Dr. Donald E. Bossi

BIO

As President of FIRST, successful technology executive Donald E. Bossi brings deep technical and management skills to the organization. Bossi, who has excelled in a 20-year career with several high technology companies, primarily in the fiber optics field, is now anxious to give back and help develop the next generation of innovators.Starting his career as a research scientist, first at MIT Lincoln Laboratory and then at United Technologies Research Center (UTRC), Bossi was a part of an advanced project at UTRC which was acquired by JDS Uniphase (JDSU) and he moved to the new company. After a series of promotions at JDSU, he became Vice President and General Manager for JDSU Electro-Optics Products. The Division grew tenfold during his involvement there. Bossi next served as Group President of JDSU Active Components Group for two years, and then as Group President, JDSU Transmission Products Group for two years. In 2005, Bossi joined Technology Ventures Partners to work with their high-tech portfolio companies. While at the venture group, he served as the CEO of Aegis Lightware, Inc. and then as CEO of Inlet Technologies, positioning the company for a beneficial acquisition by Cisco. Most recently, Bossi served as the COO of CIDRA Holdings in Wallingford, Conn.Bossi is the holder of four U.S. patents and author of numerous technical presentations. He holds B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and has completed executive education courses at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. He served on the Boards of Directors of several privately held companies, and is also a member of the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering.

Governance

BOARD CHAIR

Sheri S McCoy

Avon Products, Inc.

BOARD LEADERSHIP PRACTICES

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BOARD ORIENTATION & EDUCATION

Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?


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CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?


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ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?


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BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?


RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?