About Us

FIRST is a national robotics community that prepares young people for life. Its mission: To inspire young people to be leaders in science and technology by engaging them in 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

Operating under the KC STEM Alliance, the FIRST Kansas City team is building a robotics community of area businesses, schools, universities and professional organizations with the goal of giving every student in our area the opportunity to participate in FIRST from kindergarten through high school graduation.

By empowering young people to think big and feel hopeful for their future through STEM education and mentorship, FIRST helps students build a better future where they want to belong. And that’s good news for Kansas City, where rewarding careers at STEM-based businesses and industries play a significant role in the regional economy.

Our History

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 and Recognition of Science and Technology).

KC STEM Alliance was created in 2011 with support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to oversee the implementation of FIRST and Project Lead The Way in the Kansas City area. Along with its support of these two national best-practice STEM programs, KC STEM Alliance collaborates with industry, educators and STEM organizations and works to increase access to STEM opportunities for under-resourced schools and communities and underrepresented groups.

Our Team


Chrissy Chandler FIRST LEGO League Partner
Bob Crance FIRST Senior Mentor
Robert Dumler FIRST Robotics Competition Regional Director
Teri Kriege KC STEM Alliance Interim Director
Marian McClellan Girls in STEM Program Coordinator
Phil Wood FIRST Tech Challenge Coordinator
Callen Zind Communications Manager

Our Partners and Connections

KC STEM Alliance sponsors support FIRST Kansas City’s operations. These Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze partners enable KC STEM Alliance to manage, staff and cover all costs associated with regional FIRST events and competitions.

What We Do

Our mission is to make the suite of FIRST programs available, accessible and sustainable for the Kansas City region.

Our goals:

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

Delivery of FIRST

KC STEM Alliance supports FIRST Kansas City in three important ways:

KC STEM Alliance manages, executes, staffs and covers all costs associated with Kansas City Regional FIRST tournaments, events and competitions, including:

FIRST LEGO League Explore: A stand-alone Expo, numerous Expos and Showcases at FIRST or STEM outreach events and How to Start a Team workshops.

FIRST LEGO League Challenge:  Regional qualifying tournaments, a regional championship, How to Start a Team workshops and a Coaches Workshop.

FIRST Tech Challenge: FIRST Tech Challenge Kickoff, Quick Build and team workshops; meets and qualifiers.

FIRST Robotics Competition: FIRST Robotics kickoff and quick build, regional FIRST Robotics Competition tournaments and events, and support for team-hosted trainings.

KC STEM Alliance raises funds to cover KC FIRST staff including the FIRST Robotics Competition Program Delivery Partner, FIRST LEGO League Explore and FIRST LEGO League Challenge Program Delivery Partner, FIRST Tech Challenge Local Director and FIRST Volunteer Coordinators.

KC STEM Alliance awards grants directly to teams to assist with operating budgets, travel and expenses.

FIRST Team Growth (2021-2022)

FIRST teams are tracked in the Kansas City 6-county region as well as in the larger FIRST defined region for Kansas City on our 2019-2020 Participating Schools Grid.  In 2018-19, we adopted the FIRST region boundary for each program as our tracking area. This FIRST area includes all of Kansas and Western Missouri for FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST Robotics Competition and a multi-county area around Kansas City for FIRST LEGO League and FIRST LEGO League Junior.  81% of teams and 77% of students shown for 2018-19 above reside in the 6-county Kansas City area.

Grants and Support to Teams

With support from its generous funders, KC STEM Alliance awards cash grants to support and increase student participation in robotics programs.

Applications are considered from FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) and FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) teams in the following counties: Johnson and Wyandotte in Kansas; and Cass, Clay, Jackson, and Platte in Missouri.

KC STEM Alliance does not formally provide seasonal team grants for FIRST LEGO League of FIRST LEGO League Jr.  However, if you have a proposal for starting a new team or teams in an area that is under represented in STEM, please contact us at kcstem@kcstem.org.  Organizations who have benefited from our targeted grants include Girl Scouts, YMCA, and the Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council.

We support teams personally as well through our FIRST VISTA AmeriCorps members and our Senior Mentor.  These individuals are available for team visits, one-on-one assistance, and locating resources, both technical and otherwise.

Equipment Rental, Loan, or Buyout

We have many items available for rent or loan to help teams and organizations in the area with STEM outreach and to make FIRST more widely known and accessible to all.  In addition, we have previous-season items for sale at a very reduced rate.  Items may include official-sized FLL tables, FLL mission models and mats, FLL medals of previous season, FTC kits and parts, FTC field components, and others.  Please complete the Equipment Agreement Form and email to kcstem@kcstem.org with the inquiry.

KC Engineering Zone

KC Engineering Zone (KC EZ) is a safe and supportive 4,200-square-foot workspace where Kansas City’s K-12 urban students acquire real-world knowledge, skills and experience through hands-on science, technology, engineering and math programming.

The KC EZ hosts three FIRST Robotics Competition teams (Paseo Academy of Performing Arts, Lincoln College Preparatory Academy, and Cristo Rey KC, Central High School) each school year providing build space, access to machining equipment, 3D printer and hand tools, work benches, meeting spaces, a kitchen facility, snacks, and more.

KC EZ Calendar

KC Engineering Zone hold harmless form – Required to work in the KC EZ Machine Shop.