Dear Friends of FIRST in Texas,
As we head into a New Year and continue another exciting FIRST® season, it’s the perfect time to look back on the progress we made in 2018 and be inspired by what we’ve accomplished together. It’s also the perfect time to look ahead and establish a clear vision for 2019.
Where We Are Today: A Big Thank You
This year, which has been marked by plenty of transition, has had its fair share of challenges. Despite any difficulties, what all of you have accomplished is amazing. I’d like to send a big thank you for all of the incredibly hard work you’ve put into FIRST in Texas this year. Many of you have and continue to give up weekends and work long hours. You have advocated within your companies to win those precious sponsorship dollars. And you’ve made personal donations to our annual fund.
You’ve helped expand our programs across the state and enriched the lives of youth by supporting the FIRST LEGO League Jr., FIRST LEGO League, FIRST Tech Challenge, and FIRST Robotics Competition. You’ve enabled teams to achieve new highs and inspired thousands of Texas kids.
You are appreciated. None of the progress we’ve made in these four amazing programs across Texas would have been possible without you.
Looking Ahead: Fresh Inspiration for the 2018-2019 Season
As we move forward into 2019, we are excited to keep the momentum moving forward as we build on our hard work and encouraging progress. To improve the experience for everyone in FIRST in Texas, we have an ambitious plan of attack for the rest of this season and beyond. This includes:
- Making a successful transition to district events at the FRC level. This transition has FIRST in Texas taking full responsibility for all FRC events in the state of Texas, including growth to 10 district competitions and holding our first state Championship in April. This event growth is coupled with continued growth in FRC team community and a partnership with New Mexico to allow all New Mexico FRC teams to participate in Texas district events.
- Developing a new structure for FTC competitions across the state of Texas. We have experienced explosive growth in FTC for the last three years and Texas now accounts for ~12% of the worldwide FTC team community. While we have been adapting our current FTC structure to handle the growth, we need to make significant changes moving forward to enable even more teams and establish a sustainable infrastructure of events, volunteers, and sponsors.
- Continuing to grow our strong relationship with UIL. FIRST in Texas helped UIL to pilot Competitive Robotics as a competitive sport and we were honored when they announced that Competitive Robotics and FIRST® were to be part of the permanent UIL portfolio this past May. We want to support UIL and help them make robotics a shining part of the Texas education community.
- Introducing kids to robotics at the elementary level through FLL and FLL Jr., particularly in underrepresented or minority populations. These programs have a strong base in place today, but we know that early adoption by all communities is key to establishing interest in STEM fields later in a child’s life. While we have a superb community supporting FLL and FLL Jr. across Texas, we need to seek every opportunity to find new partners and create more opportunities for kids in every social, economic, and cultural environment.
- Last, but by no means least, we need help finding and building relationships with potential sponsors in all parts of Texas. Wonderful as they are, our goals cannot be achieved just through the passion of our staff and volunteers. We need a strong base of committed sponsors whose generosity is key to achieving our goal of enabling every child in Texas to experience robotics and the opportunities a strong STEM program can provide.
Future Goals of Our Board
Our Board has an ambitious vision to expand the reach of FIRST in Texas into every community in Texas, especially those who are underrepresented and have socioeconomic disadvantages. These goals include:
- Re-evaluating the role and composition of the board to enhance our support for the FIRST in Texas staff to ensure we are optimizing our team’s ability to meet our collective goals.
- Establish stronger board participation in program level strategy across the state
- Align board skills, capabilities and interests with current and potential sponsors to help grow our sponsor base.
Together We’re Unstoppable
Those aren’t just inspirational words, they’re a practical principle that has shown itself to be true over and over again for FIRST in Texas.
As we continue this journey throughout the season—and as we maintain our close-knit teamwork and keep the momentum going—please know that your commitment and support means a great deal to me, the staff and Board of Directors at FIRST in Texas, our teams and the community.
Thanks to your efforts, today FIRST in Texas is a stronger, more effective, and more widely engaged organization. We are changing the lives of students and building a solid foundation of tomorrow’s STEM leaders, and that makes all the hard work more than worth it.
If there’s a question or concern on your mind, or if you have an idea to share, don’t hesitate to reach out to me.
Here’s to another year of inspiring the next generation of STEM leaders and innovators in Texas. May we all have a wonderful and productive 2019.
Executive Director and President, FIRST in Texas