FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) announces that they will begin recruitment for up to 50 AmeriCorps VISTA members, to support the expansion of FIRST STEM education programs into 33 U.S. communities -- including Richmond, Virginia. The 50 AmeriCorps VISTA members, from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency that administers AmeriCorps, will be placed at sites across the country, providing a service valued at more than $1.4 million in support to FIRST in 2017.
Founded by inventor, entrepreneur, and advocate for science and technology Dean Kamen, FIRST inspires young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.
AmeriCorps VISTA members are trained and supported in increasing access to FIRST programs for low-income and underserved youth and connect kids to technology based-programs, impacting their interest in STEM-related fields. In addition, AmeriCorps VISTA members provide support to partner organizations that serve FIRST teams and recruit mentors and coaches for programs and events.
Kamen states, “I hope we ultimately change the lives of tens of thousands of kids so that the next generation of American workers are all ready for the exciting jobs and careers of the 21st century. I am sure we will do that better, faster, and more efficiently because of the FIRST partnership with AmeriCorps VISTA.”
Currently, FIRST is recruiting for 50 full-time AmeriCorps VISTA positions to be placed across the country, including Puerto Rico. The positions are scheduled to begin this summer. AmeriCorps VISTA positions provide a living allowance, skills-building, comprehensive training and support, and an education award. Individuals interested in applying for one of these positions can apply through the AmeriCorps website.
Since 2013, more than 100 AmeriCorps VISTA members have supported access to STEM education in 51 cities across 32 states through the FIRST AmeriCorps VISTA project. These members have connected more than 7,600 kids to FIRST programs, and engaged more than 3,200 adults – many of them science and technology professionals – in mentoring and coaching opportunities.
The AmeriCorps VISTA members serving through these projects will join the more than 80,000 AmeriCorps members serving across the country in 21,600 locations. Since the program’s inception in 1994, more than 1 million men and women have served in AmeriCorps, providing more than 1.4 billion hours of service and have earned more than $3.3 billion in education scholarships to pay for college or pay back student loans.
Today’s announcement builds on CNCS’s commitment to increase access to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education and engage the next generation of STEM leaders. From preparing students for college and careers in STEM-related fields to increasing access to digital literacy tools in rural communities and mobilizing STEM professionals to mentor youth, national service programs continue to engage thousands of Americans in STEM learning and build avenues for growth in science and technology programming.