New Hampshire Schools Embrace Groundbreaking State Grants to Start FIRST® Teams

FIRST Founder Dean Kamen Thanks NH Gov. Chris Sununu, Department of Education for New Hampshire Robotics Education Fund Support for STEM Programs; 153 Schools Applied for Over $800,000 in Grants

MANCHESTER, N.H., October 19, 2017 FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a global K-12 not-for-profit organization founded by inventor Dean Kamen to inspire young people’s interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), has collaborated with the New Hampshire Department of Education to make state grant funding available to robotics program via the New Hampshire Robotics Education Fund. The response from New Hampshire schools during the initial round of funding has been overwhelming, with grant applications from 153 schools totaling over $800,000, exceeding the fund appropriation of $375,000.

In September, Kamen – who founded FIRST in Manchester, New Hampshire, in 1989 – and students from New Hampshire FIRST teams joined New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu and lawmakers at the State House to launch the fund. The New Hampshire Robotics Education Fund is a special grant program for every public and charter school in New Hampshire to launch their own robotics teams, offering students a unique opportunity to develop the real-world skills they’ll need to have successful careers in the 21st century.

After the grant applications exceeded the appropriation, Department of Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut and his team worked with federal partners to secure additional grant funding to meet the need. The state has also extended the one-month grant window and eligibility requirements.

"The New Hampshire Robotics Education Fund is a game-changer for Granite State students," said Donald E. Bossi, president of FIRST. "Kids across the state now have access to programs that will allow them to develop critical skills and build self-confidence that will empower them to do great things. I applaud Governor Sununu, Commissioner Edelblut, and the New Hampshire Legislature for their commitment to New Hampshire’s young people."

Research shows that participation in FIRST results in positive outcomes for students, such as gains in STEM interest, STEM career interest, and 21st century skills – including teamwork, problem solving, time management, and communication. Eighty-six percent of students are more interested in doing well in school after participating in FIRST, and 88 percent are more interested in going to college. Eighty percent of students are more interested in jobs that use STEM. Plus, high school FIRST students and alumni gain access to nearly $50 million in scholarships from nearly 200 colleges, universities and other providers.

Advancing the mission of FIRST to inspire young people to engage in STEM learning has never been more critically important. STEM occupations are growing 1.7 times faster than non-STEM careers in the United States, per the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

“Now, more than ever, it is essential that we inspire young people to engage in STEM,” Kamen said. “Here in New Hampshire, with our population aging and more of our high school graduates leaving the state, our businesses are challenged to find the skilled workers they need. This pledge from New Hampshire to its children should stand as a challenge to Governors across the country to prepare and ensure promising and rewarding futures for the next generation of innovators, inventors, and creative problem solvers.”

The deadline to apply for start-up funding for teams in New Hampshire schools has been extended to November 15. The Department of Education has also opened the grant program up to schools that have existing robotics programs. To find out more about how to apply, visit

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, engineering and math (STEM). With support from over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies and more than $50 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. Learn more about about how FIRST supports educators by engaging students in STEM learning and preparing them for the future.