Letter from CEO: Our Year in Impact

May 9, 2020

To our NYC FIRST Community,

It was an eventful 2019 for NYC FIRST, and we are excited to catch you up on our exciting milestones.  Thanks to all of you for continuing to support us in the myriad ways you do – you continuously bring your energy and enthusiasm enabling us to deepen our impact.

FIRST Competition Season

We’re half-way through our FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) qualifiers and are about to move into full swing, with more FTC events coming up. We're also building towards the launch of our FIRST LEGO League (FLL) competitions set to kick off on Jan. 11.  Another 20 competitions await us in the first 4 months of 2020.  We’d welcome any volunteers as judges, referees, queuers, or one of the many other volunteer positions that may suit your skills set.

District-Wide Program

On December 9, 2019, NYC FIRST kicked off the first-ever implementation of its programs at a district-wide level.  All 49 K-12 schools in the New York City Department of Education’s District 6, which encompasses Washington Heights and Inwood in northern Manhattan, will take part in FLL or FRC.  These programs will be incorporated into the regular school-day curriculum for all 5th and 6th grade students, plus 9th grade students in all the high schools.  This roll-out will impact approximately 3,000 students, taking the number of students NYC FIRST impacts annually year to over 10,000.

Library Programs

Building on our initial and successful work with the Brooklyn Public Library, we have now partnered with all three NYC public library systems, adding the New York Public Library (NYPL) and the Queens Public Library – to bring high quality robotics programs to all five boroughs.  Our vision is that any student can make the short walk into their local branch and be part of a high-quality robotics program, at no cost.  We deeply value our library partners as we jointly expand the definition of “literacy” in the 21st century.

STEM Centers

Our STEM Centers are becoming even more interwoven in the fabric of their communities.  The NYC FIRST STEM Center, located in the Washington Heights Branch of NYPL, will play a central role in supporting our District 6 program. Teacher training has already commenced, and NYC FIRST staff will remain available to support the district at every turn.  The Cornell Tech STEM Center, on Roosevelt Island, continues to serve the NYC FIRST community through build sessions, equipment training, and workshops.

Corporate Challenge

We are close to launching our second annual Corporate Challenge, which will take place this coming June.  In our inaugural year, teams from Google, Two Sigma, Bloomberg, Goldman Sachs and AllianceBernstein competed alongside and against a dozen of our high school FRC teams.  More corporate teams have already signed up for this year to push the competition to new heights.  As we’ve said in the past, this is a great way for corporations to be mentored by our high school students and to see how extraordinary they are, while also testing their ingenuity and mettle.  Please let us know if you’d like to get involved.

We'll see who will can step up and dethrone our 2019 Champions - AllianceBernstein.

Again, we have much to be proud of and thankful for.  We deeply appreciate our community, across all of its varied and dedicated participants.  We are excited for 2020.  

Thank you for your support,

Michael Zigman