FIRST Announces 2017 STEM Equity Community Innovation Grant

Arconic Foundation, Qualcomm Incorporated, New York City Individuals, and Others Support Building STEM Literacy in Underrepresented and Underserved Students in the United States and Canada

Grant Provides Greater Access to Quality STEM Experiences for K-12 Students

MANCHESTER, N.H., November 28, 2016FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) today announced the launch of the 2017 FIRST STEM Equity Community Innovation Grant, adding to its commitment to address the inequities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) among underrepresented and underserved students. This grant is designed to help ensure that more of these students, and their communities, are exposed to creative problem-solving and hands-on learning, and are educated about future career opportunities available to them.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that although STEM jobs are expected to grow at a rate of nearly double that of other fields, around 1.2 million such positions will be unfilled by 2018 because of a lack of applicable skills in the U.S. workforce.

“We are seeing an ever-growing demand for STEM professionals. And that’s good news, because studies show that, early in their careers, STEM majors earn approximately $15,500 more than non-STEM majors.* But at the same time, inequities in education and afterschool programming prevent some young people from having access to engaging opportunities in STEM learning,” said FIRST President, Donald E. Bossi. “We are proud to offer this grant and we thank our Sponsors for making it possible. With their support, the FIRST STEM Equity Community Innovation Grant will help students gain the confidence they need to achieve future success.”

FIRST will provide funds to up to 15 communities in the United States and Canada. The collaboration, training and technical assistance for targeted students will give community leaders the ability to: map existing community resources and identify service gaps or other unmet needs; provide the support and resources necessary in underserved communities to increase access to FIRST programs and/or develop models for inclusive practices; and create the metrics to drive continuous improvement.

The 2017 STEM Equity Community Innovation Grant is made possible by Arconic Foundation, Qualcomm Incorporated, New York City individuals and others.

“As demographics shift and our population grows more diverse, creating equity is more important than ever. Persistent gaps in health, employment, education, and opportunity prevent certain populations from realizing their full potential,” said Shelley Henderson, Diversity & Inclusion Manager, FIRST. “Through this grant and other strategic initiatives at FIRST, it is our goal to address this. We want to provide access to our life-changing STEM programs to as many students as possible while supporting communities and the people they serve in pursuit of equity.”

FIRST will evaluate each grant request based on a set of criteria, including the community’s alignment with the FIRST value of increasing diversity; demographics of the target group; clear explanation of need in the community; strength of execution; track record of serving the targeted students; and the value of the proposed activities among others. The grant funding period begins in July 1, 2017 and concludes June 30, 2018. Grants will range from $5,000 to $50,000 with an average of $25,000.

Notifications of intent are due on January 20, 2017 with the final proposal deadline of March 15, 2017. All communities will be notified by May 31, 2017.

Apply for the 2017 STEM Equity Community Innovation Grant here.

The 2016 FIRST STEM Equity Community Innovation Grant helped 10 communities develop new and innovative approaches to address equity, inclusion and diversity inequalities in STEM to more than 5,605 students.

*2014 Department of Education Report

About FIRST® 
Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With support from over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies and more than $30 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition for students in Grades 9-12; FIRST® Tech Challenge for Grades 7-12; FIRST® LEGO® League for Grades 4-8; and FIRST® LEGO® League Jr. for Grades K-4. Gracious Professionalism® is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. To learn more about FIRST, go to