FIRST is about more than robots. It is a community focused on building a better world for tomorrow by engaging students of all ages in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). On this page you can:
- Find FIRST Quick Links
- Find State Contacts
- Start or Sponsor a Team
- Volunteer as a Mentor or Coach
- Learn about our VISTA Program
- Find Resources for Legislative Engagement
FIRST Quick Links
To learn more about FIRST in Florida programs and opportunities, contact these program organizers in Florida, browse the program tabs or contact these program directors:
- FIRST LEGO League or FIRST LEGO League Jr: Visit our FLL and FLL Jr pages for the contact in your area.
- FIRST Tech Challenge Operating Committee: FTC@flfirst.org
Or these Regional Directors for information about FIRST Robotics Competition or any other aspects of the FIRST programs:
- Sandra Contreras, South Florida: SContreras@FIRSTInspires.org
- Theresa Willingham, Central Florida: TWillingham@FIRSTInspires.org
You can also contact:
- North Florida Senior Mentor, Andy Milluzzi: AMilluzzi@FIRSTInspires.org
- South Florida Senior Mentor, Allyn Bernstein: ABernstein@FIRSTInspires.org
- Florida FIRST Alumni Chair, Barry Bohnsack: FloridaFIRSTalumni@gmail.com
Start or Support a Team
FIRST and all of the managing organizations that make all of our programs possible in Florida, are volunteer run, not-for-profit entities that rely on donations, grants and sponsorships to serve the over 10,000 students in Florida involved in FIRST STEM education programs here. Please visit the program tabs above to connect with the relevant nonprofit program organizers to contribute to FLL Jr., FLL, FTC, or FRC programs in Florida.
Volunteer as a Mentor or Coach
There are lots of ways to help FIRST students throughout the state, and sharing professional and technical skills and resources are one of the most valuable contributions teams can receive. Volunteers can help as team mentors, at events as judges, pit support, and with various aspects of event management, or with in-kind services, supplies and materials.
All FIRST volunteers are screened and must registered in the FIRST Volunteer Management system. Please visit the FIRST Volunteer Portal to learn more about Volunteer Opportunities and our Youth Protection Policy.
Educators applying as volunteers, coaches or mentors may forward a copy of their background check report to Lee Doucette at LDoucette@firstinspires.org for consideration at the time of registration. Education related screenings will accepted if they meet or exceed FIRST requirements and have been completed in the last 2-3 years.
Be a VISTA
The VISTA program at FIRST strives to match an AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteers to local communities to help support developing and sustaining FIRST teams within underserved communities. The FIRST AmeriCorps VISTA mission is to create and expand the vision of FIRST by working in areas that have been deemed underserved: lower socio-economic communities, rural areas, and areas that have little to no support or resources to be able to easily access STEM initiatives. VISTAs work closely with all teams in their area as general support, with a strong focus in underserved populations.
To learn more, visit FIRST Americorps VISTA.
Legislative engagement is key to getting local and state funding support, as well as helping build sustainable community based FIRST programs that enjoy school district, neighborhood and regional recognition and support with respect to build space, education and training resources.
In 2017, thanks to the legislative engagement efforts of Team 744 Shark Attack and others, Florida FIRST Robotics Competition teams received state funding for the very first time. In Brevard and Duval Counties, local school districts provide funding support for FIRST teams as well. Working together, year round, we can continue to engage local and state congressional leaders in continued support of our FIRST teams statewide. Here are a few resources to help you connect with legislators and share the critical message of FIRST:
- Government 101 (PPT) by FIRST Lobbyist James Burger – excellent overview
- Be Effective with Your Member of Congress: A Chief of Staff’s Perspective (PPT) by Katherine B. McGuire, Chief of Staff, Congressman Randy Hultgren (R-IL)
- Florida Appropriation Process
- Florida State Budget Development Process
- Congress.org – Look up lawmakers & track their votes by email via MegaVote
- Talking Points for Florida Legislators
- Why Invest in FIRST?
- Sample letter to Senator
- Sample letter to Representative
- Find Your Florida Senator
- Find Your Florida Representative
- Florida Fiscal Portal
- Other examples of state support of FIRST programs: Michigan FIRST Robotics Grant – 2017 New York grant legislation
- HR 5168 Christa McAuliffe Commemorative Coin Act, benefiting FIRST teams
- Team Rush National Advocacy Conference (NAC) – Annual FIRST legislative conference sponsored by Team Rush and held in Washington DC