FIRST Announces 2016 STEM Equity Community Innovation Grant

Microsoft, Boeing Among Sponsors to Support Building STEM Literacy in Underrepresented and Underserved Students in the U.S. and Canada

MANCHESTER, N.H., February 16, 2016FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) today announced the launch of the 2016 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.

In the United States, the demand for STEM professionals is estimated to grow by 17 percent between 2008 and 2018 – which is higher than the projected growth for all administrative, sales, and transportation positions combined in the same timeframe.

“The demand for STEM professionals has never been higher, but  at the same time, inequities in education and afterschool programming prevent certain youth –  including females and minorities – 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, Microsoft, Boeing and others for making it possible. With their generous support, the 2016 FIRST STEM Equity Community Innovation Grants will drive students toward better paved pathways to prosperity.”  

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; provided 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.

“Our ability to offer quality STEM engagement opportunities to communities that are seeking practical workforce development and equity solutions is not only beneficial to the ultimate grant winners, the students, and their communities; but also to the mission of FIRST as we provide access to life-changing experiences to as many students as possible,” said Shelley Henderson, Diversity & Inclusion Manager, FIRST, adding ,“We believe the grant competition may spark many innovative solution to bringing greater diversity in STEM.” 

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 June 2016 and concludes June 30, 2017. Grants will range from $5,000 to $50,000 with an average of $25,000.

The grants which will be awarded in June 2016, run through June 2017. Letters of intent are due on March 11, 2016 with the final proposal deadline of April 8, 2016. All communities will be notified by May 13, 2016.

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