8177 Mechanicsville Turnpike
Mechanicsville VA 23111
Mission Statement

VirginiaFIRST is the Virginia-based affiliate of US FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a non-profit international educational mentoring organization. VirginiaFIRST promotes FIRST's mission to: 

  • inspire young people to be science and technology leaders by engaging them in exciting team-based, mentor-based programs that build skills in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM);
  • promote the spirit of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship;
  • foster well-rounded life capabilities;
  • help today's youth acquire the knowledge and skills needed to compete in the technologically-driven global economy;
  • encourage students (ages 6-18) to pursue studies in the sciences, engineering and technology at the college, graduate and post-graduate levels leading to careers in related technical fields.

It is a goal of VirginiaFIRST to make FIRST’s programs available to all Virginia youth.
Web and Social Media
FIRST Robotics Competition
FIRST Robotics Competition
CEO/Executive Director Ms. Leighann Scott Boland
Board Chair Mr. Scott McKay
Board Chair Company Affiliation Genworth
Contact Information
Address 8177 Mechanicsville Turnpike
Mechanicsville, VA 23111
Telephone 804 572-8454
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 2007
Financial Summary
Revenue vs Expense Bar Graph - All Years
Expense Breakdown Bar Chart - All Years
Projected Revenue $994,000.00
Projected Expenses $940,000.00

VirginiaFIRST is the Virginia-based affiliate of US FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), a non-profit international educational mentoring organization. VirginiaFIRST promotes FIRST's mission to: 

  • inspire young people to be science and technology leaders by engaging them in exciting team-based, mentor-based programs that build skills in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM);
  • promote the spirit of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship;
  • foster well-rounded life capabilities;
  • help today's youth acquire the knowledge and skills needed to compete in the technologically-driven global economy;
  • encourage students (ages 6-18) to pursue studies in the sciences, engineering and technology at the college, graduate and post-graduate levels leading to careers in related technical fields.

It is a goal of VirginiaFIRST to make FIRST’s programs available to all Virginia youth.

VirginiaFIRST strives to expose more youth to the excitement of science and technology and the role both will play in their future.  To achieve this, we use a dual approach: establish more FIRST programs in communities and generate more outreach activities so additional youth may benefit. VirginiaFIRST embraces FIRST programs to bridge the opportunity gap.

This year we:

  1. Successfully completed Phase 1 of the FIRST Chesapeake District Model. This 2 1/2 year project distilled 3 FIRST partners in Virginia, DC, and Maryland into 1 stronger and more effective organization. By branding the FIRST Robotics competition under one entity, the message and mission became much clearer to corporate sponsors and community organizations.
  2. Brought 15+ STEM-based workshops and competitions to over 57,000 individuals in Virginia, DC and Maryland.
  3. Live-streamed FIRST Chesapeake FIRST Robotics competitions to over 90,000 individuals from around the world in March and April. 
  4. For the first time ever, introduced FIRST Tech Challenge robotics to students in 3 Richmond City middle schools as part of a partnership with Next Up RVA.
  5. Continued to support pilot Richmond City schools as part of a team sustainability program. In the past 2 years, these teams have been able to raise 50%+ of their total funds, develop partnerships with local companies and community organizations, and recruit adult mentors to assist team coaches and senior team members. 
  6. Developed partnerships with other FIRST partners, including VA-DC FIRST LEGO League, the administrator of the largest concentration of FLL teams in the world.
  7. Recruited over 800 event volunteers and 500 team mentors/coaches to support 300+ middle and high school robotics programs in Virginia, DC, and Maryland.
  8. Worked with corporations to support over $70,000 in needs-based team grants. 

Plans for the upcoming year include:

  1. Greater opportunities for corporate employee engagement, both as event volunteers and team mentors in their communities.
  2. Expansion of our FIRST Mentor Training pilot across the Commonwealth. This training gives community volunteers insight on how best to work with a FIRST team.
  3. Streamlining staffing and communications plans to break down FTC and FRC program silos. By better utilizing staff time and contacts, VirginiaFIRST will galvanize local teams, sponsors, and their communities to support the organization, not just a particular program or event.
  4. Expansion of partnerships to secure resources for both programs (workshops, training, outreach activities) and team support.
  5. Enter into Phase 2 of the District Model plan, which includes the redistribution of funds to support the sustainability and growth of the highest quality STEM-based workshops and events that help to build tomorrow's technology leaders. 


Since 1999, thousands of Virginia students have had the opportunity to learn ‘by doing’ in a unique “sport for the mind.”  In 2015, VirginiaFIRST worked with its FIRST Robotics Competition partners in DC and Maryland to consolidate resources and develop a more streamlined message to both teams and supporters. Increasing our community outreach efforts, recruiting additional volunteers and team mentors, providing training and workshop opportunities, and launching FIRST programs in more under-resourced communities with at-risk students are top priorities. We have identified the following critical needs:

  1. Programs: $100,000 - additional staffing to help support program sustainability, as well as outreach to existing and potential FIRST communities in Virginia, DC and Maryland. This support would also include volunteer recruitment and training travel expenses, and materials for program support staff.
  2. Designated team support - $80,000: initiate or support FIRST teams, distributed according to need for registration, parts, tools, materials.
  3. Additional competitive events and scrimmages - $50,000: Each FIRST Tech Challenge (middle and high school) events cost approximately $20,000.  Two and an half day FIRST Robotics Competition District events cost approximately $50,000. This includes contracted technical/av support, volunteer meals, equipment rental, and site costs. As team numbers grow, so will the need to add additional events.
  4. Workshops, Information Sessions and Mentor Training - $8,000: trainers, materials, logistics, travel.


FIRST was founded in 1989 by inventor/ entrepreneur Dean Kamen, with support from national business/education leaders. Its purpose is to: address the challenges of student engagement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics; make learning applicable and fun for students; provide real-world career applications of classroom learning; attract young women and minority youth to STEM careers; and to provide today's students with the skills necessary to take their places in the 21st Century workplace.


FIRST offers a seamless pipeline of programs for students in grades K through 12. The Jr. FIRST LEGO League (6-9 year olds), FIRST LEGO League (9-14 year olds), FIRST Tech Challenge (middle and high school), FIRST Robotics Competition (high school) follow students up the educational ladder and into the workforce. On the surface, FIRST is an exercise in designing, building, and competing with a robot. In reality, FIRST offers year-long activities that keep students engaged in learning, leading, and expanding their horizons.

In all FIRST programs, teams (students, mentors, parents and teachers) receive identical technical challenges, and collections of parts and materials, and have limited time to devise a solution. Students organize into project teams, and take on responsibilities such as building, programming, marketing, and management. These project teams resemble the dynamics of a small company. All FIRST programs culminate in an exciting competition, which is a celebration of innovation, achievement, teamwork, community involvement, and technical expertise.

Virginia welcomed FIRST to the state in 1999 and, in 2007, VirginiaFIRST was established as the official regional non-profit affiliate organization of FIRST. Its mission is to provide FIRST’s innovative STEM-based opportunities for Virginia students. VirginiaFIRST, guided by its Foundation and Advisory Board, administers the FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST Robotics Competition programs for middle and high school students. In addition, VirginiaFIRST promotes all of FIRST’s pipeline of programs in the Commonwealth. We work closely with industry, academic, and business partners to develop resources for our participating teams so that they can hone their technical, leadership, and life skills.

VirginiaFIRST has been recognized in a proclamation by the General Assembly and has received two awards for its impact on youth in the Commonwealth. In 2015, VirginiaFIRST worked with its partners in DC and Maryland to consolidate resources and present a more effective and streamlined model to supporters, volunteers, and teams. This new organization, FIRST Chesapeake, has increased volunteer participation by 25%; sponsor support by almost 60% in its first 12 months, and the number of competitive events and workshops offered by more than 100%. Competitive opportunities for teams have increased by over 200% and for the first time ever, a Virginia team brought home the FIRST World Championship award in April 2016.


CEO Statement

What sets FIRST apart from other STEM-based school programs is its focus on the whole student. VirginiaFIRST works closely with schools, local organizations such as 4H and Scouts, and corporations to strengthen skills among today's youth. Using the robot as the "vehicle", FIRST reinforces STEM-based concepts while teaching valuable soft skills such as teamwork, leadership, and innovation. 

Also distinctive is FIRST’s tremendous support structure, which includes partners from a wide range of corporations, technical organizations, colleges and universities. Over $20 million in scholarships is targeted at students on FIRST teams, as well as research and internship opportunities.

FIRST gives us our “culture” of collaboration and cooperation, and provides the brand, programming, and infrastructure of support. VirginiaFIRST has taken these attributes and layered in its own distinguishing features. 

  1. We have established a FIRST Alumni Association in Virginia, DC an Maryland. With over 1,900 registered alumni, many  of our program leaders are FIRST Alumni, mentors, and/or parents, who understand the culture of FIRST and have helped us to develop the training and hands-on activities to reach an increased number of volunteers and youth.
  2. Our VirginiaFIRST Ambassadors, key supporters and advocates, help us promote FIRST programs around the state.
  3. We have partnered and collaborated with organizations such as Virginia Manufacturers Association, Next Up/The Community Foundation of Richmond, regional technology councils, and the Science Museum of Virginia to focus on workforce development, career opportunities, and to share resources and outreach.
  4. VirginiaFIRST personnel spend much of their time training, demonstrating, exhibiting, and in outreach activities with FIRST students and robots. This gives teams and volunteers a pro-active role in an interactive format to learn new skills and develop talents in presentation and public speaking.

Board Chair Statement
In 2015, VirginiaFIRST joined Capital One and the Brookfield Foundation to develop a pilot "team sustainability" program for veteran Richmond City public schools. The purpose of this program was to encourage youth to take a more active part in their robotics team, including community outreach and fundraising. The program was meant to break the cycle of dependency for FIRST subsidies while empowering students to advocate for something that they were involved in. The results exceeded everyone's expectations. As one staff person said, "these students weren't under-resourced, they were under-estimated." With support from VirginiaFIRST staff and Americorps VISTAs, the two pilot teams developed marketing programs and presentations, and applied for over $100,000 in in-kind and cash funding for the FY17 academic year. One school received the "grant of the year" from a local foundation and enough funds to double the size of their robotics program. The success of this team also facilitated the addition of a part time technical staff person to incorporate robotics into the school's curriculum for the first time in the fall of 2016. Another school developed innovative partnerships with other non-profits such as Habitat for Humanity to share manpower and resources. This school also marketed their team to the school alumni association and was awarded long-term funding.
The partnership with Next Up RVA introduced STEM-based leadership robotics programs to approximately 90 middle school students in Richmond public schools in 2016-2017. Two of these schools current feed into high schools that have FIRST robotics programs, creating the potential of 7 years of STEM-based enrichment programming for students participating from grades 6-12.
Areas of Service
Areas Served
VirginiaFIRST and FIRST Chesapeake directly serve over 6,700 middle and high school students in Virginia, DC and Maryland through innovative STEM-based leadership programs. Working with local partners, including FIRST LEGO League, we indirectly impact approximately 57,000 individuals annually through events (free and open to the public), conferences, and local community-sponsored events.
Board Chair
Board Chair Mr. Scott McKay
Company Affiliation Genworth
Term Jan 2007 to Dec 2017
Board of Directors
Board Members
Mr. Mark Allen DuPont Teijin Films
Mr. Paul Chi Booz Allen Hamilton
Mr. Hans De Koning Flexicell
Mr. Robby Demeria RichTech
Mr Michael Duncan Donnachaidh Associates
Mr. Steve Gaidos Captech
Dr. Gulu Gambhir Northrop Grumman
Mr. Andrew Glowatsky Church and Dwight
Ms. Amy Harris Northern Virginia Community College
Dr. Rosalyn Hobson Hargraves VCU
Dr. John E. Karaffa ProSport CPA
Mr. James Kresge Capital One
Ms. Stephanie Lockhart Lockheed Martin Corporation
Mr. Josh Long Bechtel
Ms. Lyn McDermid Dominion
Mr. Scott McKay Genworth Financial
Ms. Lakshmi Meyyappan Macedon Technologies
Dr. Dean Roberts Rolls-Royce
Mr. James Schubert Showbest Fixtures
Mr. Brian Snodgrass Nortrop Grumman Information Systems
Ms. Toiya Sosa GEICO
Ms. Zuzana Steen Micron
Mr. Robert Stolle Center for Integrated Technology
Mr. Nick Swayne JMU
Dr. Martha Walker Virginia Cooperative Extension Services
Ms. Bettina Welsh Leidos
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 0
Asian American/Pacific Islander 2
Caucasian 13
Hispanic/Latino 1
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0 1
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 10
Female 7
Board Meeting Attendance % 70
Written Board Selection Criteria? Under Development
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? Yes
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 100
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 70
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 2
Other Boards
The tables below contain information about other groups that advise this nonprofit on operations and projects.
Executive Director
Executive Director Ms. Leighann Scott Boland

Leighann Scott Boland is a native of Richmond and the Executive Director for VirginiaFIRST/FIRST Chesapeake. Previously, Leighann served as the Director of Development and Director of Operations for VirginiaFIRST. Leighann has worked for VirginiaFIRST for 10 years. Prior to her tenure at VirginiaFIRST, she administered a successful multi-state business-education partnership through the Virginia Association of Museums. This partnership recorded an annual economic impact of $1.5M+ and included over 360 participating organizations. Leighann holds a bachelor’s degree from Mary Washington College (University of Mary Washington). She has also received certifications in marketing and fundraising from the University of Richmond’s Institute on Philathropy. She is a member of the Virginia Association of Fundraising Professionals and a graduate of the Leadership Metro Richmond Class of 2016. Leighann supports many non-profit missions, including the Virginia Association of Museums, the Valentine Museum, Maymont Foundation, Friends of the Richmond Mounted Police, Richmond Animal Care and Control, and Old Dominion Boston Terrier Rescue. In her spare time she enjoys reading, renovating her 1920’s home in Richmond, and spending time with family. Leighann is married to Jay. They are the proud parents of 3 teenage boys – and an embarrassing number of rescued pets.

Senior Staff
Mr. Glen Davis Director of Logistics
Ms. Samantha Ellis Director of Operations
Full Time Staff 5
Part Time Staff 0
Volunteers 400
Contractors 16
Retention Rate 85
Organization has a Fundraising Plan? Under Development
Organization has a Strategic Plan? Under Development
Management Succession Plan? No
Organization Policy and Procedures Under Development
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistleblower Policy No
Document Destruction Policy No
Directors and Officers Insurance Policy No
FIRST Robotics Challenge - STEM and Leadership-based robotics program for high school students.
FIRST Tech Challenge - for middle and high school students, a more affordable alternative to the FRC program
Collaborative partnerships with FIRST LEGO League and FIRST LEGO League Jr partners in Virginia, DC and Maryland. In 2016-2017, VirginiaFIRST helped raise $5K in support for FLL programs in Virginia and provided Expo/Exhibit space for approximately 40 FLL Jr teams at FIRST Chesapeake District events.
Population Served Children and Youth (0 - 19 years)
Budget $480,000.00
Long Term Success
By introducing children to interactive STEM-learning, we are creating a new generation of leaders and technologists. Starting early funnels children into the STEM-pipeline that fast-tracks them to future careers in the technology field. FIRST program alumni are now employed by such well-known organizations as NASA, and more local by businesses such as Dominion and Genworth.
Fiscal Year
Projected Revenue $994,000.00
Projected Expenses $940,000.00
Spending Policy N/A
Form 990s
IRS Letter of Exemption
Detailed Financials
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201620152014
Program Expense$1,104,418$683,908$506,729
Administration Expense$212,986$155,899$99,783
Fundraising Expense$151,578$102,449$87,680
Payments to Affiliates------
Total Revenue/Total Expenses0.850.761.03
Program Expense/Total Expenses75%73%73%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue15%16%13%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201620152014
Total Assets$125,887$338,864$534,755
Current Assets$125,887$338,864$534,755
Long-Term Liabilities$0$0--
Current Liabilities$47,612$36,784$2,573
Total Net Assets$78,275$302,080$532,182
Short Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities2.649.21207.83
Long Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%0%0%
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
State Charitable Solicitaions Permit
Solicitations Permit
Solicitations Permit 11/2016View
Solicitations Permit 11/2017View
Organization Comments
VirginiaFIRST is current with all files related to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Documentation for the current year's solicitation permit is being processed and will be posted on this site upon receipt.
The incorporation of the DC and Maryland FIRST Robotics Competition partners in FY16 resulted in anticipated budget shortfalls. While fundraising increased dramatically, the costs associated with phase 1 of this restructuring outpaced our funding capacity. Beginning in FY18, several mechanisms have been put in place to streamline staffing and program costs while increasing fundraising potential in the Metro DC area. VirginiaFIRST and its board are confident that there will be a budgeting surplus beginning in FY18 and for the projected future. 
Foundation Comments
  • Form 990 and financial statements prepared internally by the organization
  • Financial information provided by the Form 990, with supplemental information provided by the financial statements