FIRST® Announces 2016 STEM Equity Community Innovation Grant Winners

Grant provides underrepresented and underserved students from 10
communities access to creative problem-solving and hands-on learning

(For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) today
announced 10 winners of the 2016 FIRST STEM Equity Community
Innovation Grants. The grants, made available to increase access to FIRST
programs for underrepresented and underserved students, will help more
communities develop new and innovative approaches to address equity,
inclusion and diversity inequalities in STEM (science, technology,
education, and math) fields.

FIRST launched the STEM Equity Community Innovation Grants this
year to ensure more of the targeted students and communities are exposed
to creative problem-solving and hands-on learning opportunities.
Applications were evaluated based on their alignment with FIRST
in its goal of increasing diversity; demographics affected; community
need; execution strength; track record of serving targeted students; and
the value of proposed activities. Grants ranged from $5,000 to $50,000
with an average of $35,000.

“As the demand for qualified STEM professionals continues to grow,
inequalities in education and afterschool programs have affected
students of color and female students’ ability to excel in these
fields,” said Donald E. Bossi, president of FIRST. “Through these
grants, we are proud to lay the foundation for more successful futures
by providing opportunities for 4,200 students in nine states and one
Canadian province to gain new skills and real-world experiences. For
their communities, this opportunity offers practical workforce
development and equity solutions that otherwise have been unavailable.”

Grant Sponsors include Alcoa Foundation, Boeing, and Microsoft, among
others. Grantees will receive resources and support from FIRST as
they develop their programs.

The 2016 FIRST STEM Equity Community Innovation Grant award
winners include:

  • Alberta First Nations Robotics Capacity Building (Barrhead,
    Alberta, Canada): The Alberta Distance Learning Centre is a public
    online school serving 600 schools and 40,000 students annually.
    Working with aboriginal communities, the grant will help start five
    new FIRST teams to introduce First Nations and Metis students
    to robotics.
  • Diversifying Delaware’s STEM Workforce (Wilmington, Delaware):
    The Boys and Girls Clubs of Delaware and Delaware State
    University will diversify Delaware’s future STEM workforce through the FIRST®
    LEGO® League program, focusing on at-risk African American, Hispanic,
    Latino and female students.
  • F3 Idaho Project – FIRST Fueling Futures (Boise, Idaho):
    The Idaho AfterSchool Network and its coalition will increase the
    diversity of FIRST participants across Idaho and address the
    disparity in participation among rural, female, minority and
    economically disadvantaged students.
  • FIRST Steps Toward Building Community in Socorro
    Through STEM
    (Socorro, New Mexico): The New Mexico Institute of
    Mining and Technology and its partners will expand community
    participation in FIRST programs with a focus on underserved
    Hispanic, Native American and female students.
  • Girls Inc. STEM Programs and FIRST LEGO League (Omaha,
    Nebraska): Girls Inc. of Omaha will promote activities that build STEM
    awareness and knowledge, problem-solving, teamwork and more to girls
    at two Girls Inc. sites in Omaha.
  • Meadowcreek High School Cluster Robotics & Computational Thinking
    (Norcross, Georgia): The Meadowcreek Cluster will expand
    its robotics education and computational thinking training in
    elementary and middle schools while providing high school students the
    opportunity to mentor younger peers.
  • Minneapolis Equity Robotics Project (Minneapolis, Minnesota):
    The Shingle Creek Neighborhood Association in cooperation with
    Minneapolis Urban Robotics Alliance (MURA) and other collaboration
    partners, will provide underserved youth the opportunity to
    participate in urban FIRST® Tech Challenge teams.
  • NERA Deaf and Hard of Hearing Reverse Inclusion Teams (Charles
    City, Iowa): The Iowa School for the Deaf will provide access
    to FIRST programs through a strategy of “reverse inclusion.” Teams
    will be started by deaf and hard-of-hearing students in mainstreamed
    settings and others will be invited to participate.
  • S.A.Y. Play Robotics. Think Robotics…S.A.Y. Detroit! (Detroit,
    Michigan): S.A.Y. Play, a youth community center which uses sport as
    the hook for academic achievement, will give 60 students access to
    robotics and connect them with positive role models.
  • STEM Infusion – Columbus Coalition (Columbus, Ohio): Columbus
    City Schools will collaborate with industry professionals, nonprofits
    and higher educators to create a diverse and inclusive learning
    community for local underserved students.

The 2017 FIRST STEM Equity Community Innovation Grant application
process will open in the fall of next year, and grants will be awarded
to a mix of current and new recipients. More information will become
available at

About FIRST®
inventor Dean
 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 $25 million in college scholarships, the
not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics
 for students in Grades
9-12;FIRST® Tech
 for Grades 7-12; FIRST® LEGO® League for
Grades 4-8; and FIRST® LEGO® League
for Grades K-4. Gracious
® 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


Brooke Blew, 603-206-2048
Dunn, 603-206-2494