Investing in the Future STEM Workforce
August 9, 2018
It’s not every day you find a community investment program that:
- Encourages STEM education and the development of 21st-century work/life skills
- Enriches the lives of underrepresented and underserved students in Texas
- Creates amazing team building experiences for your employees
- Builds a pipeline into your company for future employees
But that’s exactly what you get when you invest in the nationally recognized FIRST programs in Texas. An investment in FIRST in Texas is more than providing monetary support to K-12 robotics teams. Working with FIRST in Texas also offers the satisfaction of mentoring students who have just begun to catch STEM fever.
Investors such as Toyota Motor Manufacturing of Texas, Dell, 3M, and Qualcomm know firsthand how enriching a FIRST in Texas partnership is for communities and companies alike.
How FIRST in Texas Partners Have Benefited: Stupendous STEM Tales
High school STEM enthusiasts in the San Antonio area have likely heard of the Backyard Strategy implemented by Toyota Motor Manufacturing of Texas (TMMTX). At the very least, they’ve seen its effects.
As told in a news article by San Antonio’s very own Rivard Report, TMMTX’s STEM tale began when the San Antonio plant was searching for ways to give back to Texas while developing a pipeline of future skilled workers.
Initially, the company made a general effort to invest in various community programs throughout Texas. Dissatisfied with the results and the lack of workforce development, in 2011 TMMTX tried something new: focus exclusively on their own backyard.
This shift led to a partnership with FIRST in Texas to develop a program to underwrite teams for the FIRST in Texas robotics competition. In 2011, Toyota Motor Manufacturing of Texas funded a handful of teams. By 2016, TMMTX was supporting 30 robotics teams–all from the local area around the San Antonio plant.
As they focused more intensely on the local community, they began to see the needs of their neighbors more clearly, as the Rivard Report notes:
“It’s not just the targeted efforts to develop more STEM-skilled workers and high school graduates for its production line that motivates Toyota Texas. In working with its community partners Toyota executives also recognized that many families in the economically disadvantaged zip codes surrounding the manufacturing facility have limited access to essential services such as medical clinics and fresh groceries.”
Other FIRST in Texas Partner Tales
Other FIRST in Texas partners have had similar experiences. Each company chooses a focus that’s compatible with their community-giving goals, but the effects are the same. Dell, for example, emphasizes helping students who are in underserved areas and from underrepresented groups. Dell also challenges the FIRST in Texas teams that they support to demonstrate how Dell’s support benefits their entire community.
Another partner, 3M, places a special focus on outstanding academic achievement (in addition to financial need). 3M also provides their employees with the opportunity to volunteer directly with the student teams that they support.
Nationally, Qualcomm stepped in this past May, providing significant support in the role of Presenting Sponsor at the FIRST® Championship in Houston, Texas. The event provided positive exposure for Qualcomm, but it also provided an unforgettable experience to 15,000 participants and volunteers from 25 states and 42 countries. Statewide, Qualcomm supports individual teams and sponsors competitive events like the UIL State Robotics Championship for the FIRST Tech Challenge.
Not Just For the Big Companies
Small and mid-sized companies can also invest in FIRST in Texas and enjoy the same benefits. All levels of investment and participation are welcome. No matter the size of the company, partners who have invested in FIRST in Texas have seen the following results:
- Their community profile has been strengthened
- Their brand has gained wide recognition and visibility
- They’ve gained access to future interns and employees
- They’ve expanded the quantity and quality of volunteer opportunities for their employees
- The participation in exciting and inspiring FIRST in Texas events such as the robotics competitions and team mentoring refreshes company morale as well as professional enthusiasm
- Company managers and HR staff have expressed appreciation for the wonderful team-building experiences their employees have experienced as mentors and volunteers for FIRST in Texas teams
- Investing in FIRST in Texas accelerates a company’s progress toward philanthropic goals
How is My FIRST in Texas Investment Used?
When you invest in FIRST in Texas, you’re helping teams get everything they need to participate in our programs. This includes:
- Registration Fees
Partner support could also involve in-kind donations as well as employee volunteerism and mentoring.
All of these options provide vital support to our Texas teams. Your support ensures that they have a chance to experience the life-changing programs offered by FIRST in Texas.
Research Backs It Up: Participation in FIRST® programs Shapes Lives
A longitudinal study performed by Brandeis University confirms the positive impact that FIRST® programs have on students. As noted in this excerpt from the study:
“FIRST participants continue to show significantly greater gainson STEM-related attitudes and interests than comparison students and are significantly more likely to show gains in STEM-related outcomes than students in the comparison group. These positive impacts hold true for participants from all three major FIRST programs (FIRST LEGO League, FIRST Tech Challenge, and FIRST Robotics Competition), across key demographic groups, and for those living in different types of communities (urban, rural, suburban).”
How Can a Student’s Team Apply for a FIRST in Texas Grant?
FIRST in Texas team mentors and volunteers working with low-income students may apply for funding provided by companies and individuals. Scholarships and grants for the 2018-2019 academic year open August 15, 2018. Visit our grant application page to apply.
How Can My Company Get Involved with FIRST in Texas?
Visit our Invest in Texas page to learn about the following opportunities for involvement:
- Provide Mentors
- Invest in Teams
- Sponsor an Event
- Make a Cash Donation
When your company invests in FIRST in Texas and STEM education, Texas communities grow stronger. You’re investing in the development of hard and soft skills that will keep Texas, the US, and your company at the forefront of the global economy. Every dollar you donate or minute spent volunteering has the potential to enrich a child’s life as well as strengthen our future workforce.