Ten Inspiring Community Organizations Awarded STEM Equity Community Innovation Grants from FIRST®

Grants Will Provide Equitable STEM Engagement Opportunities for Youth across Six Countries


MANCHESTER, N.H., August 16, 2022FIRST®, a robotics community that prepares young people for the future, today announced the disbursement of ten STEM Equity Community Innovation grants to address inequities in access to science and technology for children in countries around the world. The grants directly support students from underserved and underrepresented communities and help community leaders develop new, innovative approaches to close the STEM education gap.

FIRST launched its STEM Equity Community Innovation Grants program in 2016 to provide historically marginalized students with hands-on learning and creative problem-solving opportunities. Grants range from $5,000 to $50,000, with an average of $45,000, and evaluation criteria includes community need, demographics, increases in diversity, execution strength, track record of reaching targeted students, and the value of the activities proposed. To date, FIRST has awarded 78 grants totaling $2.7M to grantees around the world.

“In collaboration with our generous sponsors, FIRST is pleased to award ten STEM Equity Community Innovation grants that will provide students around the world with opportunities to explore STEM,” said Dr. Janell N. Catlin, Senior Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at FIRST. “FIRST is committed to expanding STEM engagement on a global scale and we are looking forward to working closely with these communities to accomplish their goals moving forward.”

Thank you to our sponsors for their generous support and commitment to Equity, Diversity & Inclusion at FIRST. Their support enables us to explore, develop and implement strategies to become more inclusive and ensure access to our program for all students.

Grantees will receive resources and support from FIRST as they develop their community-wide programs incorporating FIRST® Robotics Competition, FIRST® Tech Challenge and all three divisions of FIRST® LEGO® League.

The 2022 FIRST STEM Equity Community Innovation Grant award winners include:

Boys & Girls Club of Southern Maine, Maine, United States

Through this grant the Boys & Girls Club of Southern Maine plans to engage 120 underserved youth. They intend to start the program in summer 2022 with a six-week introduction and afterwards will start five FIRST LEGO League Explore teams, one at each Club.

Fundacion SparkTalents, Chile

With “Bridge the gap: Hands-on STEAM through robotics” Fundacion SparkTalents wants to bring the FIRST experience to youth through the participation of ten new FIRST LEGO League Explore and 17 new FIRST LEGO League Challenge teams. They plan to focus on communities which are underserved or underrepresented and estimate a participation of 186 students and more than twenty teachers in those schools.

Eduact, Greece

For the upcoming year, Eduact plans to deliver FIRST programs to Special Education Schools in Greece. The students from General Schools who benefited from programs in past years will act as mentors in their area offering back to the community by supporting a Special School to start FIRST LEGO League. They aim to reach approximately 1200 students in five schools with sixty teachers.

Girl Scouts – Dakota Horizons, South Dakota, United States

The Girl Scouts Career Builders Robotics Challenge, part of Girl Scouts – Dakota Horizons, plans to be a pathway for girls in rural and other underserved populations to gain access to new adventures in STEM learning through FIRST LEGO League. Along with creating workshops in eight strategic locations, they intend to give Girl Scout troops the opportunity to check out program materials to allow for greater access in rural and other underserved areas.

Girl Scouts of Eastern Oklahoma, Oklahoma, United States

Girl Scouts of Eastern Oklahoma has developed a plan for expansion that they plan to use to impact hundreds of girls from all racial/ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. Their project includes two primary components to make FIRST more accessible in their area by equipping new teams with the materials needed and outfitting a space for teams to meet.

Idaho STEM Action Center, Idaho, United States

With a focus on rural communities to better support underrepresented and underserved students in Idaho, increase STEM opportunities, and promote engagement in the program they will target recruitment in 42 rural and under resourced communities. In these communities they are hoping to successfully recruit and support three FIRST Robotics Competition teams, three FIRST Tech Challenge teams and 15 FIRST LEGO League teams.


This grant will allow LYBOTICS to equip Libya’s youth to take back their future. They plan to empower the underrepresented, underserved, and vulnerable youth through FIRST Tech Challenge. Reaching schools in rural areas they expect to support 25 FIRST Tech Challenge teams with materials and mentors.

FIRST Robotics Canada, Ontario, Canada

FIRST Robotics Canada plans to provide students and communities with hands-on learning opportunities and outlets to creative problem solving by facilitating a series of eight, half-day learning experiences in 16 schools across the province. Through participation in these learning opportunities, they have a goal to reach 32 teachers and 480 students who will learn building and coding concepts and receive necessary training, equipment, and resources to run a FIRST LEGO League Explore or FIRST LEGO League Challenge team at their school in the 2022-23 season.

Pawtucket Child Opportunity Zone, Rhode Island, United States

The Pawtucket School Department’s Child Opportunity Zone (COZ) is a community school initiative to integrate education, health and social services to support children and families. With the grant they intend to expand FIRST programs to the elementary schools by adding four FIRST LEGO League Discover and seven FIRST LEGO League Explore teams that will be integrated into the COZ's after school program operating at all ten elementary schools.

Robots & More, Morocco

This season, Robots & More aims to expand their support of inclusive teams in far and rural areas by focusing on places where they have only one or no teams and target to grow their involvement in school districts from 60% to 80%. During the season they plan to support 66 existing FIRST LEGO League Explore and Challenge teams and create twenty new FIRST LEGO League Explore and twenty new FIRST LEGO League Challenge teams reaching a total of about 1500 students.

The 2023 FIRST STEM Equity Community Innovation Grant will be administered via a nomination process. FIRST will look to field representatives to recommend new locations that need funding and have supports in place to ensure program sustainability.

FIRST STEM Equity Community Innovation Grants are just one initiative FIRST has employed in support of equity, diversity, and inclusion in STEM. Other key initiatives include:

  • Grant funds to support FIRST LEGO League Challenge, Explore and Discover. Class Packs serving underserved communities, as part of LEGO Foundation funding
  • Thought Leadership activities including presentations, blog posts, and articles
  • Partnerships with youth serving organizations
  • VISTA program supporting underserved communities in the U.S.
  • Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion training and resources for FIRST HQ Staff, volunteers, coaches, and youth

Through these initiatives, and with the support of our sponsors, FIRST is making STEM more accessible to students nationally and internationally. To learn more about our commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion, please visit


FIRST® is a robotics community that prepares young people for the future through a suite of inclusive, team-based robotics programs for ages 4-18 (PreK-12) that can be facilitated in school or in structured afterschool programs. Boosted by a global support system of volunteers, educators, and sponsors that include over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies, teams operate under a signature set of FIRST Core Values to conduct research, fundraise, design, build, and showcase their achievements during annual challenges. An international not-for-profit organization founded by accomplished inventor Dean Kamen in 1989, FIRST has a proven impact on STEM learning, interest, and skill-building well beyond high school. Alumni of FIRST programs gain access to exclusive scholarships, internships, and other opportunities that create connections and open pathways to a wide variety of careers. Learn more at