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FIRST AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) members work in low-income and low-resource communities to facilitate access to FIRST STEM programs.

The VISTA program at FIRST strives to match an AmeriCorps VISTA to our field structure in support of teams within underserved communities. The FIRST AmeriCorps VISTA mission is to 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 in a full-time capacity with their local Site Supervisors. VISTAs often work closely with teams in their area as general support and work to build the capacity of FIRST by focusing on impacting underserved and underrepresented populations.

Service Activities

The FIRST® AmeriCorps VISTA members will work to:
1. Support and assist in the recruitment of teams, mentors, coaches and volunteers with an emphasis on securing and sustaining support to the low income/underserved
2. Identify specific underserved schools and communities as locations to establish FIRST teams or sustain and grow existing teams
3. Raise awareness of grant, funding, and scholarship opportunities among underserved students, schools or teams
4. Develop and execute strategies to meet the support needs of local organizations that support FIRST teams in low income/underserved areas
5. Track and report out on specific performance milestones and measurements.

Community Need Addressed

Despite our growth and success to date, FIRST is needed now more than ever. In its 2010 report on K-12 education, the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology explained how increasing the effectiveness of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in the United States will greatly benefit the nation's economic competitiveness and overall welfare. However, as the same report relates, the United States consistently ranks in the middle of the pack, or lower, in student performance in science and mathematics when compared with other developed nations.

We know that without the encouragement of adults and the engagement of student peers that are at the core of all FIRST programs, students begin falling behind in science and technology at an early age, which can not only deter interest in science and technology careers, but also have more serious consequences for success in life. For example, only one in five sixth graders who fail math will reach 12th grade on time, and only 21% will graduate either on time or within one additional year.Studies indicate that, after the age of 10 or 11, children's attitudes toward science start to decline, further diminishing their science aspirations.

We can and must do more to address these issues head-on. To build on our success and achieve our vision, we must: 1) Engage many more students in our programs by developing a broad-based
awareness among young people of how much fun being a member of a FIRST robotics team can be,
2) Engage more students at a young age to get them excited about science and technology and keep them from falling behind, 3) Keep students involved throughout their school years through a
progression of learning, so that they see the opportunities in and are prepared to succeed in 21st
century science and technology careers, and 4) Better influence culture by becoming part of the fabric of communities.

Position Outcomes

FIRST programs use a combination of strategies that research has demonstrated lead to increased
interest in STEM, knowledge about STEM concepts, and result in more students expressing a desire to attend college and have a STEM career. FIRST programs provide a fun and engaging challenge that has a connection to real life issues, utilize hands-on learning experiences where students, working on teams, experiment and actively learn while doing, and expose students to careers through mentorship.
Across programs, the vast majority of coaches and students report a strong, positive impact on student knowledge, interests, attitudes, and skills. Furthermore, after completing a FIRST program, the majority of students were more interested in pursuing STEM-related careers. Exposing students to FIRST programs through hands-on experiences via mentorship leads to stronger student engagement and K-12 success, which lead to more students pursuing STEM in college meeting the important need of enhancing the US position among nations in the education of its youth in STEM.

FIRST VISTA members have the opportunity to engage more underserved and underrepresented students in FIRST


Childcare assistance if eligible, Education award upon successful completion of service, Health coverage, Living allowance, Non-competitive eligibility (federal jobs), Relocation allowance (if applicable), Stipend, Student loan forbearance, Training

Use of FIRST laptop during service term, access to expense account to offset mileage costs, travel to a FIRST VISTA Orientation in NH.

Skills you will gain

Leadership, time management, soft skill development, professional development, etc.

Competencies You Will Develop

Demonstrate sensitivity and empathy, Listen to and consider others' viewpoints, Maintain open lines of communication with others, Write cleary and effectively
Creativity & Problem Solving
Able to identify and define the problem, Capable of generating possible solutions, Communicate the problem to appropriate personnel, Improvise, Provide relevant expertise, Select and implement well-considered solution
Derive consensus, Develop constructive working relationships and maintain them over time, Establish a high degree of trust and credibility with others, Interact professionally and respectfully with supervisors and co-workers, Stay positive and outcome oriented, Use appropriate strategies and solutions for dealing with conflicts and differences to maintain a smooth workflow
Accepts responsibility, Anticipate the consequences of decisions, Identify and prioritize the key issues involved to facilitate the decision making process, Involve people appropriately in decisions that may impact them, Quickly respond with a back-up plan if a decision goes amiss
Carefully consider which tools or technological solutions are appropriate for a given job, Consistently choose the best tool or technological solution for the problem at hand, Seek opportunities to improve knowledge of tools and technologies that may assist in streamlining work and improving productivity
Able to prioritize various competing tasks, Create environment of contribution, Create plan of action, schedule tasks so that work is completed on time, Demonstrate the effective allocation of time and resources efficiently, Drive decision making, Set goals
Be pleasant, courteous, professional and respectful when dealing with internal and external customers or clients, Evaluate customer or client satisfaction, Honor the privilege of being able to work with and for those being served, Recognize the importance of maintaining privacy and confidentiality of those being served, Understand and anticipate the needs of others, Understand the importance of one's role in the functioning of the organization, Understand the significance of maintaining a healthful and safe environment
  • Activity Types Hands On Activities, Office Activities, Professional Activities
  • Focus Areas Community & Nonprofit Development, Education & Youth
  • Length of Service 12 Months
  • Education Requirements Some College
  • Placement Individual and Team Placements
  • Service Setting Charter School, Community-based Nonprofit, Community Development Organization, Early Childhood Program, Elementary School, Higher Education Institution, High School, Library, Middle School, Private School, Recreation or Youth Center, School-based Nonprofit
  • Weekly Training Hours 3

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