PLANO, Texas, Feb. 10, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- As the leading corporate advocate for positive afterschool programs, JCPenney is increasing its support of FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) by sponsoring 500 high school teams nationwide as they compete in FIRST robotics competitions this spring.
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FIRST is a charitable organization whose mission is to inspire students, schools and communities to appreciate and celebrate the limitless potential of science and technology. Through fast-paced, high-energy, "March Madness" style robotics competitions, FIRST is a growing varsity Sport for the Mind™ that immerses students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education through competitions to design, build and program robots using engineering principles and a sports model of competition and teamwork.
"FIRST is an extracurricular activity that aligns with JCPenney's philanthropic mission of supporting youth development by building positive learning opportunities during the after school hours," said Myron E. (Mike) Ullman, III, chairman and chief executive officer of JCPenney. "Growing our sponsorship support from 64 teams last year to 500 teams this year represents a significant increase in the number of students who will experience, first-hand, the educational and social benefits provided through FIRST, which will ultimately impact the success of our country's future workforce."
JCPenney's sponsorship of 500 FIRST teams across the country reflects the Company's progressive goal to bring FIRST to over 1,100 JCPenney communities by providing the sponsorship needed to establish rookie teams and increase participation among minority and female students.
"FIRST is about giving all kids the opportunity to realize their full potential as scientists, inventors or entrepreneurs. JCPenney understands the profound influence FIRST participation has on students' education and career choices," said Dean Kamen, FIRST Founder. "Their unwavering commitment to sponsor 500 teams this season has nearly doubled the number of new FIRST Robotic Competition (FRC®) teams in the U.S. As our largest supporter of rookie teams, JCPenney understands that increasing its support to more communities is critical to expanding the reach of FIRST and positively impacting the lives of thousands of students."
On Jan. 8, teams received this season's challenge, LOGO MOTION™, along with a kit of parts made up of motors, batteries, a control system, a PC and a mix of automation components – but no instructions. Working with coaches and professional mentors, students have six weeks to build a robot that can maneuver a field flanked by poles while earning points by hanging as many logo pieces on each pole as possible. Bonus points will be awarded for each robot that can hang and assemble pieces to form the FIRST logo as well as deploy a "mini-bot" to climb vertical poles positioned within the middle of the field. The challenge not only measures the effectiveness of each robot but also the successful collaboration and Gracious Professionalism™ demonstrated by the team alliances.
Each sponsored team is linked to a local JCPenney store or distribution center to offer support and assistance as students prepare for their state, regional or district competitions – which are free and open to the public. By leveraging its national presence and local community involvement, JCPenney plans to sponsor over 1,100 FIRST teams – located in large metropolitan areas to small rural towns -- to help boost STEM education and inspire a new generation leading the world's innovation.
About JCPenney's Commitment to Afterschool
As a leading corporate advocate for the afterschool issue, JCPenney works with afterschool organizations to increase the accessibility and affordability of afterschool programs across the country. Through its legacy of supporting youth and charitable organizations such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, The Y, National 4-H, United Way and FIRST, JCPenney formalized its commitment to the afterschool issue by establishing the JCPenney Afterschool Fund, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Since its inception, more than $100 million has been distributed to afterschool programs across every JCPenney community thereby making it possible for more children to participate in life-enriching programs that inspire them to be smart, strong and socially responsible. For more information, visit www.jcpenneyafterschool.org.
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 $14 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC®) and FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC®) for high-school students, the FIRST LEGO® League (FLL®) for children 9-14 years old (9 to 16 years old outside the U.S. and Canada), and the 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.