FIRST and i.am/Angel Foundation Host Fundraising Gala to Celebrate Robotics Students and Promote STEM Literacy

will.i.am and Dean Kamen Celebrate STEM Education Opportunities for Youth at FIRST Inspire Gala held in Miami During Renowned Art Basel Event
Robotics teams with will.i.am and Dean Kamen and Bina Rothblatt
Robotics teams with will.i.am and Dean Kamen and Bina RothblattIvan Apfel

The event also featured a fireside chat with Dean Kamen and will.i.am, whose i.am/Angel foundation administers charitable activities and programs targeted towards providing college scholarships, college preparation, and opportunities in STEAM education. They spoke about the current state of STEAM education for young people and its impact on our future.Miami, Fla. (December 7, 2023) --  Youth-serving nonprofits FIRST® and i.am/Angel foundation collaborated to host the 2023 FIRST Inspire Gala in Miami this week. The annual Gala celebrates the vital role that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education plays in developing today’s youth, and how FIRST uniquely prepares students to be creative thinkers and problems solvers capable of solving society’s greatest challenges. The event took place at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel on December 6, coinciding with the renowned Art Basel Miami, and was chaired by leaders in STEM education and industry:

  • Dean Kamen, Founder, FIRST, President, DEKA Research & Development Corporation

  • will.i.am, musician, tech entrepreneur, and philanthropist

FIRST Inspires Gala on December 6, 2023
FIRST Inspires Gala on December 6, 2023Ivan Apfel

Event highlights included a star-studded red carpet, robot demonstrations by local students, and an inspiring program that put a spotlight on the many ways that FIRST supports students as they build critical skills, explore career possibilities, and carve out their paths in life.

Mike Bezos and Dean Kamen
Mike Bezos and Dean KamenIvan Apfel

FIRST is a transformative experience for students. They are building the skills that will power their careers and enrich their lives. They are finding community and feel inspired to make an impact. They’re taking risks, making mistakes, and learning about the far reaches of their own potential,” said Kamen. “Kids who participate in FIRST are gaining the knowledge, innovative spirit, and confidence to solve big problems and turn long-held dreams into reality.”

The event also featured a fireside chat with Dean Kamen and will.i.am, whose i.am/Angel foundation administers charitable activities and programs targeted towards providing college scholarships, college preparation, and opportunities in STEAM education. They spoke about the current state of STEAM education for young people and its impact on our future.

FIRST gives kids opportunities to learn career and life skills, work together in teams, and meet new friends. Students participating in FIRST also become part of a global community, empowered to design a better world,” said will.i.am, founder of the i.am/Angel Foundation.

will.i.am and George Clinton of the Parliament Funkadelic
will.i.am and George Clinton of the Parliament FunkadelicIvan Apfel

In a special tribute, Ursula Burns was recognized for her unwavering commitment to FIRST. Burns has served as a member of the FIRST Board of Directors since 2000. Beyond her board service, she has graciously shared her time with students at FIRST events and as a mentor to FIRST alumni in their careers. From 2009 to 2016, she served as the CEO of Xerox Corporation, where she also held the position of Chairman of the Board from 2010 to 2017. Under her leadership, Xerox evolved from a global leader in document technology into the world's most diversified business services company.

Other notable guests included students from FIRST teams:

  • FIRST® Robotics Competition Team 59, “RamTech,” from Miami, Fla.

  • FIRST Robotics Competition Team 108 “SigmaC@T Robotics” from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

  • FIRST® Tech Challenge Team 16484 “ROBOCANES” from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

FIRST® LEGO® League 34913 “TeKniK Force” from Homestead, Fla.

Dean Kame and Ursula Burns
Dean Kame and Ursula BurnsIvan Apfel

The Gala raised funding to support the FIRST mission and the inspiration of young minds. Proceeds go toward making FIRST programs more widely available to students all over the world, especially underserved and underrepresented populations. Funds raised by the FIRST Inspire Gala will be shared between the i.am/Angel foundation and FIRST headquarters initiatives. If you are interested in learning more, or donating to FIRST, please visit firstinspires.org/give.

About FIRST® 

FIRST® is a robotics community that prepares young people for the future through a suite of inclusive, team-based robotics programs for ages 4-18 (PreK-12) that can be facilitated in school or in structured afterschool programs. Boosted by a global support system of volunteers, educators, and sponsors that include over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies, teams operate under a signature set of FIRST Core Values to conduct research, fundraise, design, build, and showcase their achievements during annual challenges. An international not-for-profit organization founded by accomplished inventor Dean Kamen in 1989, FIRST has a proven impact on STEM learning, interest, and skill-building well beyond high school. Participants and alumni of FIRST programs gain access to education and career discovery opportunities, connections to exclusive scholarships and employers, and a place in the FIRST community for life. Learn more at firstinspires.org.

About i.am/Angel Foundation 

As part of his commitment to philanthropy, will.i.am launched the i.am Angel Foundation in 2009 to TRANS4M lives through education, inspiration and opportunity. The foundation administers charitable activities and programs targeted towards providing college scholarships (i.am scholarship), college preparation (i.am College Track), and opportunities in STEAM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics). The i.am Angel Foundation is especially committed to transforming will.i.am’s hometown of Boyle Heights in East Los Angeles. Boyle Heights is a predominantly low-income, working class, immigrant community that is rich in culture and potential, but struggling with a lack of resources and opportunities. The i.am/Angel Foundation strives to turn Boyle Heights into a model for other communities around the world.  Visit i.am/Angel Foundation for more information.

Robotics teams with will.i.am and Dean Kamen and Bina Rothblatt
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