Through working with afterschool service providers in underserved communities to implement our PreK-12 robotics programs, FIRST® has identified some lessons learned to help any community organization open STEM pathways for all students.
- Remove barriers for students who lack resources: Funding for snacks, after-school travel,
and other expenses can allow disadvantaged youth to participate in team-based opportunities meaningfully.
- Connect students who are new to STEM areas with experienced students for peer-to-peer or near-peer mentoring: Creating opportunities for young people to teach each other builds skills, confidence, and relationships among both mentors and mentees.
- Link students to the larger community: In FIRST, we find building strong bonds with FIRST teammates, coaches, mentors, corporate sponsors, and partners can be rewarding — and open doors to jobs, internships, and higher education.
- Provide training and resources to coaches/ facilitators: Providing in-person and online training in fundraising, team safety, building, and coding, among other topics, can give confidence to inexperienced coaches.
- Engage students in programs year-round: Community organizations, which operate year-round, are ideally positioned to keep young people engaged by extending programming into the summer months.
At FIRST, we are committed to bringing our team-based PreK-12 robotics programs to the students who can benefit from them the most. We’re constantly developing new strategies to create greater, more equitable access, and to help every child succeed. For more on our commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, visit firstinspires.org/diversity.
Contributed by: Vinnie Rodino, FIRST Director of School Engagement