Equity for All
FIRST is an organization that deeply values it’s mission to spread STEM to everyone regardless of their background. This goal requires the presence of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion measures (commonly referred to as ED&I) to be common and practiced within every FIRST space, regardless of program, status, team, location, and other measures. Creating a diverse and accepting community requires these measures, which can prove a challenge for the local level in terms of resources, support, and outreach. This is where EquityFIRST comes in.
EquityFIRST was founded in the Spring of 2020 to make minorities feel heard and included personally within the FIRST community. The group originally began as a body to work with FIRST to require equality, diversity, and inclusivity training for mentors and employees involved. Later, their mission evolved to include helping minorities feel more welcome to talk about larger issues in FIRST, and how teams can step-up to become involved locally. This includes issues such as helping disabled, neurodivergent, LGBTQIA+, and racial minority communities to all have a voice within the community. Currently, their efforts include arranging a 24 hour stream to donate to a minority-oriented science group, and becoming an official organization under the eyes of FIRST.
We spoke to one of EquityFIRST‘s leaders, Alex about the program and their stance.
As a minority personally, I feel like the organization does the most amazing job at making people feel heard. I got majorly overshadowed in these issues growing up, and I don’t think that anyone should feel ignored as it makes a person feel as though they don’t have a right to say anything about their struggles ever. This program has helped form a larger discussion about how just how much slips through the cracks when it comes to listening and focusing on minorities, rather than talking over them. If I could personally implement something into FIRST, it would be more widely show support towards minorities. FIRST does an amazing job, don’t get me wrong, but there is so much progress to be made within this area. Some examples of ideas I would include are wheel-chair ramps for driver stations and improving the current quiet room system.
You can help by speaking up, signing petitions, highlighting minorities, educating others or even just helping them out. We want equity and peace for all within this program, and you can help by even spreading the message. There are so many ways you can help, but the most important is educating yourself about the topic, and getting involved!