Back to News

Let’s Talk About Sponsors with Patrick Felty


As the Development Director for FIRST in Texas, Patrick Felty connects sponsors with FIRST in Texas. These sponsor act as partners for team funding through grant programs, event funding as well as providing mentorship, volunteers and in-kind support. We sat down with him to find out all about sponsors!

What makes an ideal FIRST in Texas sponsor?

An ideal sponsor for FIRST in Texas is a couple of different things. An organization that is looking to get involved with the mission of FIRST of inspiring young people to become future technology leaders. It is a company that has a STEM focus. It is a company that is interested in their own current employees as well as a future pipeline of employees/knowledge workers.

Why are FIRST in Texas sponsors important for a robotic team’s success?

Sponsors are important because they fill multiple gaps. Sponsors fill in the mentor gap and since FIRST is mentor-based program we need our sponsors to bring in technical and non technical workers to work with students to give them some real world experience. What FIRST does is to help students with 21st work skills, soft skills and stackable skills. FIRST participants are not only capable of one thing. They are capable in so many different aspects. They have so many different skill sets that a business would be looking for. So,those are the kinds of mentors we need from our sponsors. Whether it is accounting professionals or engineering professionals or social media marketing professionals or even project management professionals. That’s the kind of things we are looking for, for our students.

Our sponsors also fill in the financial gap. Where they help teams purchase material, pay for their registration, transportation to events. Or sponsors are event focused where they want to have a large impact on multiple teams at one time. So, they sponsor events because without events these teams don’t have anywhere to play.

Please address how statewide sponsors benefit teams across the state.

Statewide sponsors are critical to our future success. As with our partnership with UIL we fully expect to double the number of teams in Texas next season or even more. And with that means we will have to have more events. We will need to have more assets to spread around. We need to have more resources whether it is equipment or individuals, senior mentors who go out and work with teams and so statewide sponsorship is going to help with that to go fill those gaps. Also, they get great recognition at our statewide championships.

Why should potential sponsors care about supporting FIRST in Texas?

With FIRST in Texas, a statewide sponsor is gonna have so much more impact because we have so many wonderful organizations in Texas that have offices in multiple cities. As a statewide sponsor you are getting to support those local cities as well as other areas in the state. As a future workforce pipeline, we want these Texas kids to stay in Texas and to work in Texas. So that is another benefit to our statewide sponsors is now they have a reach and they get more exposure to these kids throughout the entire state.

How can sponsors participate in FIRST in Texas? 

Sponsors can support FIRST in Texas through mentorship, funding, volunteerism and in-kind support (space equipment).

What opportunities are available to sponsors to participate in now that robotics season is underway?

There is always a financial need for sponsors. What is important right now is our need of volunteers, helping out with regional qualifying events at any level FIRST LEGO League, FIRST Tech Challenge or FIRST Robotics Competition or even the four championships across the state happening February-April. So, there are lots of opportunities for organizations to get involved. FIRST is a year round activity. Its seasonal, but it is year-round at the same time in that we do have off season events. So, while FIRST robotics is seasonal, with FIRST in Texas, there are year-round opportunities for recognition.

How can I get my employer involved in FIRST in Texas?

All of our large competitions have VIP Receptions. If you want your senior leadership team to com to a FIRST event, reach out to the regional directors across the state and we can get them invited to our VIP Receptions. They can come to an event. They can  learn about FIRST and they can interact with students who are participating with FIRST.

Here is some feedback I have received from sponsors, “I like FIRST because it’s tangible.” Sponsors can give money. They can go to the event. They can talk to the kids. They can engage the kids, understand where they’re going and potentially recruit them once they get out of college.

They can see where there money goes and see the impact with the recipients of the money. There are sponsors who take such an interest in FIRST that they offer internships specifically for alumni and that is when they see for themselves the versatility of a FIRST program participant. In many cases the internships turn into employment. So, for sponsors the reward is both instant and long term.

FIRST as an organization has a large pool of alumni who get back involved in the community. Texas is building the alumni organization and sponsors can see alumi coming back to events as mentors and coaches.

Contact Patrick Felty to learn how your company can engage with the future of Texas.