Press Release BGCA - April 28, 2012

FIRST Announces Strategic Alliance With Boys and Girls Clubs of America

Pennsylvania Congressman Fattah backs ‘AIM’ and Targets Robotics Programs in 3,000 Boys & Girls Clubs by 2015

Boys & Girls ClubsST. LOUIS and MANCHESTER, N.H., April 28, 2012 FIRST ® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a not-for-profit organization founded by inventor Dean Kamen to inspire young people’s interest and participation in science and technology, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) today announced a U.S.- based Strategic Alliance to promote the importance of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) in K-12 education through the American Innovation & Mentorship Agreement (AIM) that will reach some four million youth.

U.S. Congressman Chaka Fattah, (D-PA), a national advocate for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education, and sponsor of the AIM agreement, as well as a supporter of both FIRST and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, has been instrumental in bringing these two organizations together. The Congressman, commenting while attending the FIRST Championship in St. Louis, noted, “Bringing these two great youth organizations together for American Innovation and Mentorship is a perfect match -- for the young people of America and for our nation's greatness."

Congressman Fattah, a leader in Congress on education and scientific research, brought these organizations together in order to dramatically expand access to exciting educational opportunities for all students.

FIRST and BGCA will mobilize resources to collaborate and promote K-12 after-school participation in the FIRST progression of robotics programs. This collaboration will lead to the formation of 3,000 robotics clubs with the potential of reaching some four million youth by 2015.  Both organizations believe this Alliance will not only lead to new innovation, but also will provide a pipeline of talent for technology and manufacturing companies, many of which are struggling to fill high-paying jobs.

"The Boys & Girls Clubs of America is committed to our mission of inspiring the next generation of science and technology leaders, and we are thrilled to announce this new FIRST Strategic Alliance," said Dean Kamen, FIRST founder and President of DEKA Research & Development Corporation. "With the dedicated and passionate youth development professionals working in Boys & Girls Clubs, located in small towns and large cities across America, I am confident that FIRST will make a lasting impression on the career choices of these kids."

"The opportunity to provide our young people with access to cutting edge innovation and develop career-oriented skills in science, technology, engineering and math is crucial to our impact agenda and mission," said BGCA President/CEO Jim Clark.  "The continued support from Representative Fattah and the vision of Dean Kamen have made this dream a reality, creating a great future for Club members."

Local Boys & Girls Clubs will work with FIRST regional leadership, partners, and event volunteers on a state-by-state basis to encourage community-wide support to advocate, engage, and foster the establishment of FIRST programs within local Clubs. The goal of the partnership is to increase the number of young people and teams involved in robotics, as well as joint volunteer activity in all four FIRST robotics programs.

“This Strategic Alliance allows Boys & Girls Clubs of America and FIRST to inspire tens of thousands of kids to develop their skills in science, technology, engineering, and math in the world's most exciting and impactful robotics competition," said Jon Dudas, FIRST president. "We are proud to join forces with Boys & Girls Clubs of America and look forward to making FIRST programs available to the some four million youth it serves. The United States has thrived because of its incredible scientists, engineers, and inventors. This collaboration will help develop the next generation of great innovators and technologists."

About Boys & Girls Clubs of America

For more than 100 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (bgca.org) has enabled young people most in need to achieve great futures as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Today, nearly 4,000 Boys & Girls Clubs serve some 4 million children and teens through Club membership and community outreach. Clubs are located in cities, towns, public housing and on Native American lands throughout the country, and serve military families in BGCA-affiliated Youth Centers on U.S. military installations worldwide. Clubs provide a safe place, caring adult mentors, fun and friendship, and high-impact youth development programs on a daily basis during critical non-school hours. Priority programs emphasize academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles. In a Harris Survey of alumni, 57 percent said the Club saved their lives. National headquarters are located in Atlanta. Learn more at bgca.org/facebook and bgca.org/twitter.

About FIRST®

Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST ® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With support from three out of every five Fortune 500 companies and nearly $15 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC® ) and FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC®) for high-school students, FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL®) for 9 to 14-year-olds, (9 to 16-year-olds outside the U.S. and Canada) and Junior FIRST® LEGO® League (Jr.FLL®) for 6 to 9-year-olds. Gracious Professionalism is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. To learn more about FIRST, go to www.usfirst.org.

Media Contact:

Cheryl Walsh, FIRST
cwalsh@usfirst.org
Ph. 603-666-3906, x460
Jan Still-Lindeman
BGCA
678-656-6252
jsllindeman@bgca.org