About Us


"To transform our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of becoming science and technology heroes."

Dean Kamen, Inventor and Founder of FIRST Robotics

Our Purpose

KC FIRST was created to inspire this region’s young people to be leaders in science and technology by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills; inspire innovation; and foster well-rounded life skills including self-confidence, communication and leadership.


Who we are

By partnering with KC STEM Alliance and working with area businesses, schools, universities and professional organizations, KC FIRST is working toward the day when every student in our metro area has the opportunity to participate in the full progression of FIRST programs from kindergarten through high school graduation.  Our goal is to increase the number of students eager to pursue post-secondary degrees and training in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, preparing them for a rewarding career with one of the many STEM-based businesses and industries in the Kansas City area, contributing fully to a robust regional workforce and economy.

KC FIRST is dedicated to helping area students build the skills they need to succeed. It’s about a culture that brings our community together in a multi-generational way—working side-by-side to make an impact on how our kids think and feel about themselves and who they choose to emulate and admire.

Our Vision

To increase the number of Kansas City area students prepared to enter STEM careers.

Our Mission

To make the suite of FIRST programs available, accessible, and sustainable for the Kansas City region.

Our Values

  • We believe in providing the highest quality US FIRST experience for the benefit of the Kansas City Region.
  • We believe engaging the community is key to our success.
  • We believe diversity and opportunity are keys to realizing our vision.

Our Objectives

  • Execute and Support Existing FIRST Programs
  • Grow FIRST Participation
  • Increase the Diversity of Participation
  • Sustain Team Participation

Our Key Measures

  • Number of unique funding sources for KC FIRST.
  • Number of community members that return to participate each year.
  • Total student participants divided by total district enrollment per year.
  • Number of outreach events per year.
  • Participation demographics.
  • Retention rate of teams in each program.

About FIRST®

FIRST was founded in 1989 by Dean Kamen, an inventor and tireless advocate for science and technology. His determination to help young people discover the rewards of STEM education and careers is the cornerstone of FIRST (For Inspiration of Science and Technology).  

Each FIRST season culminates in an international robotics competition and celebration where teams from around the globe win recognition, gain self- confidence, develop people and life skills, make new friends and perhaps discover an unforeseen career path. From humble beginnings in a New Hampshire high school gym, this season’s 2016-2017 FIRST programs attracted over 460,000 youth, and more than 230,000 mentors, coaches and volunteers from over 80 countries.  Over 3400 teams have registered to compete in the 2017 FRC season.  

Partner Benefits

KC FIRST thrives with the continued support of a comprehensive network of local and regional corporations, educational and professional institutions, foundations, and individuals. Together, these generous partners provide significant funding, time and talent through mentors and other volunteers, equipment, supplies and more. As the program continues to grow, it’s imperative that our cadre of committed partners continues to grow and keep pace with the ongoing needs of our region.

And, there has never been a greater need. Kansas City area STEM-based companies are eager to employ a robust workforce of local professionals. Yet, all too often, there are simply not enough qualified candidates. To compound the issue, there are not enough students choosing STEM education to meet the demand. Because hiring foreign nationals is an expensive and complex process, it makes sense to reach out to local students in our community. To generate enthusiasm for science, technology, engineering and math before they embark on post-secondary training. To develop a qualified domestic workforce right here at home.

By partnering with KC FIRST, industry leaders can focus their giving and support while gaining regional recognition and exposure. The benefits gained from collaborating with other STEM organizations and significantly increasing the number of high school and college students pursuing STEM careers in our region will benefit our community for generations to come.


KC STEM Alliance and Kansas City FIRST

The KC STEM Alliance is proud to partner with affiliate organizations, like KC FIRST, who are making a significant difference in the Kansas City STEM community, laying the foundation for student success. These partnerships benefit students and organizations by connecting resources, sharing information and streamlining communications.


Alumni Evaluation Results

In the fall of 2011, FIRST staff conducted an evaluation of Alumni to better understand their experiences since leaving high school and the impact FIRST has had on their lives. The following are some highlights from this study:

  • 4,666 Alumni responded to the survey. Alumni ranged in age from 17-22, 70% were male, and most graduated high school between 2009 and 2011.
  • 90% of Alumni are currently in a STEM field as a student or professional.
  • 86% of Alumni who are enrolled in their second year or later of college are working towards a degree in STEM. Majors include engineering (57%), computer science (10%) and the physical and life sciences (10%).

Interested in Getting Involved?

Are you a FIRST Alumni college graduate returning to the Kansas City area for employment? If so, please consider mentoring a team or volunteering at one of the FIRST events in the Greater Kansas City Region. Join the FIRST volunteer community and show our community the importance and impact of FIRST. Thanks to those alumni who are already involved dedicating their time to make FIRST a unique and invaluable opportunity for students in the Greater Kansas City area! You are making the difference, one student at a time.

All FIRST Alumni are encouraged to register online. Registration is not mandatory, requires no commitment on your part, and your contact information is kept secure. Please complete the information below.

Contact Information

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Scholarship opportunities in the Kansas City FIRST Region

Many colleges and universities, professional associations, and corporations offer college scholarships to high school students on FIRST teams. This is official recognition of the knowledge and technical and life skills these students have gained from participating in a FIRST competitions. 

Students participating on KC FIRST teams are often awarded significant scholarships and grants from colleges and universities, professional associations and corporations. These institutions recognize that programs like FIRST provide students with a solid basis for higher education and an informed understanding of the career options available in STEM related fields. That’s why time and after time, our students are rewarded for their knowledge, collaborative spirit and achievement not only with scholarship awards, but also admittance into highly competitive STEM programs.

To learn more about post-secondary STEM programs and scholarship opportunities, check the links below.

Resource Center

Review and download valuable information regarding STEM programs, scholarships and more!

Contact Kansas City FIRST

To receive our electronic newsletter, more information, or answers to questions regarding KC FIRST programs or events, Contact Us via the form below.

Robert Dumler - FIRST Robotics Competition Regional Program Director   rdumler@firstinspires.org

Phil Wood - FIRST Tech Challenge Kansas City Program Director  gst-pwood@kcstem.org

Christina Chandler - FIRST LEGO League and FIRST LEGO League Junior Partner  gst-cchandler@kcstem.org

Jean Melech - FIRST Senior Mentor  jmelech@firstinspires.org

Kebra Rios - KC FIRST Volunteer Coordinator gst-krios@kcstem.org

Andrew Rios - FIRST VISTA AmeriCorps Member arios@firstinspires.org

Rory Smith - FIRST VISTA AmeriCorps Member rsmith@firstinspires.org

Walden ThurnFIRST VISTA AmeriCorps Member wthurn@firstinspires.org

Martha McCabe - Director of the KC STEM Alliance  mccabemb@kcstem.org

Laura Bauer - FIRST Specialist and KC Engineering Zone Manager  bauerlb@kcstem.org

Callen Zind - KC STEM Alliance Marketing Director czind@kcstem.org

KC STEM Alliance Staff


Contact our national affiliate, US FIRST

FIRST was founded in 1989 to inspire young people's interest and participation in science and technology. Based in Manchester, New Hampshire, the 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit public charity designs accessible, innovative programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math, while building self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills.

For more information visit www.firstinspires.org

Contact Us

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