“As a founding sponsor and active participant in many FIRST events over the years, I know the FIRST experience is about as real as it gets. FIRST not only gives young men and women a glimpse into the world of solving complex problems, managing projects and being engineers, but also nurtures their competitive spirit within a fun and collegial atmosphere.  It exemplifies the ethos of the Xerox culture of innovation and collaboration.  That’s why we support FIRST and do all that we can to expand its reach.”

-- Ursula M. Burns, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Xerox

Program Type

Hands on/Project-Based
Informal /Out of School

Target Audience

All Students




Pre-K - 5
Grades 6 - 8
Grades 9 - 12

 Accomplished link

Program Impact

Reaching approximately 450,000 youth worldwide in 2016-17, FIRST programs lead to positive outcomes for youth in K-12. Ten years of external and internal evaluation data indicates that as a result of participating in FIRST, team members are more interested in doing better in school (87%), more interested in attending college (89%) and plan to take more challenging math or science courses (87%); over 90% have improved 21st century work-life skills such as problem solving, time management and conflict resolution skill.  FIRST graduates are twice as likely as a national comparison group to major in a STEM career with 33% of female participants and 41% of males majoring in engineering.  


Program Overview

FIRST provides a complete STEM pipeline for youth K-12 though out-of-school robotics programs and challenges.

FIRST provides a complete STEM pipeline for youth K-12 though out-of-school robotics programs and challenges. FIRST programs provide a fun and engaging STEM experience while providing opportunities to develop 21st century work-life skills such as teamwork, problem solving, conflict resolution, persistence, time management, presentation skills, leadership and self-confidence, preparing them to work in a STEM career.  FIRST complements the learning that occurs during the school day and fills in the gaps of STEM education in general.  

How To Get Involved

There are many ways to provide financial support and volunteerism to FIRST

  • Funders can support FIRST through its national office supporting strategic efforts and initiatives of the organization
  • Funders can provide team support on a broad basis through the national office
  • Support a local team(s) on an individual basis
  • Provide funding to sponsor/support local competition events
  • Sponsor the FIRST World Championship
  • Volunteer as a professional Mentor/Coach or other team Volunteer
  • Volunteer at a local FIRST event or the FIRST World Championship 
Funders and Partners

A generous and extensive network of Fortune 500 corporations, educational and professional institutions, foundations, and individuals support FIRST. Together, these organizations and individuals provide significant funding, mentorship time and talent, Volunteers, equipment, and more to insure that FIRST participants receive the best experience possible. 

FIRST Strategic Partners include: 3M, Argosy Foundation, Bechtel, Boeing, Booz Allen Hamilton, Caterpillar, DEKA, Dow, FedEx, GM, Google, John Deere, Lockheed Martin, NASA, National Instruments, NRG, PTC, Qualcomm, Rockwell Automation, Rockwell Collins, United Technologies

FIRST Founding Sponsors include:  Baxter, Boston Scientific, The FCA Foundation, DEKA, Delphi, GM, Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, Johnson & Johnson, Motorola Solutions Foundation and Xerox.


Mark Giordono, VP of Development 

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Design Principles

The programs in this database clear a high bar. STEMworks reviewed each program against the Design Principles for Effective STEM Philanthropy.

  • Accomplished
  • Developing
  • Undeveloped

Overarching Principles

  • Need

    Identify and target a compelling and well-defined need.

  • Evaluation

    Use rigorous evaluation to continuously measure and inform progress towards the compelling need identified.

  • Sustainability

    Ensure work is sustainable.

  • Replication and Scalability

    Demonstrate replicability and scalability.

  • Partnerships

    Create high impact partnerships

  • Capacity

    Ensure organizational capacity to achieve goals.

STEM Principles

  • Challenging and Relevant Content

    Offer challenging and relevant STEM content for the target audience

  • STEM Practices

    Incorporate and encourage STEM practices.

  • Inspiration

    Inspire interest and engagement in STEM.

  • Under-Represented Groups

    Identify and address the needs of under-represented groups.