Purpose

Universal hardships aren’t experienced equally: the events of 2020 brought intense public focus to problems of systematic inequality and injustice around the world. In particular, the ongoing global pandemic disproportionately affects populations without access to social mobility, economic opportunity, personal freedom, and support from societal institutions. Given the increasingly complex set of large-scale challenges we face, there is an urgent need to transform our culture in pursuit of FIRST’s vision to create a world where young people of all backgrounds dream of becoming problem solvers—innovators who leverage their diverse experiences and their STEM skills to make the world a better place. However, achievement of this goal requires providing increasing access to STEM opportunities for underserved and underrepresented students, as well as breaking down barriers for participation in STEM. FIRST provides conceptual tools, such as Gracious Professionalism and Coopertition, which are designed to assist in this work. The EWCP Scholarship for Social Change celebrates students who pair these tools with action, to build equality and advocate for justice in their communities.

The 2021 EWCP Scholarship for Social Change is a one-time, $1000 scholarship open to high school or college applicants who have participated in FTC or FRC.

Essay requirements

Mentor-based youth STEM programs such as FIRST create frameworks and build skillsets for addressing inequality and injustice. Your essay should respond to the question: Using what you have learned in your FIRST experience, how will you continue to bring about social change?

Here are some questions you may consider when composing your response:

  • What is the impact and scale of your plan?
  • What steps need to be taken to meet your goal? Have you taken any already?
  • How will you determine if your plan is successful?

Additional essay requirements:

  • Limit your response to 400-500 words.
  • Cite your sources. If a bibliography is used, do not include the bibliography in the word count.
  • Essay must be solely the work of the applicant. Plagiarism will result in disqualification. Essays must not infringe on any third-party rights or intellectual property of any person, company or organization.

EWCP will publish the winning scholarship recipient's winning essay, with credit to the author, on our website.

Timeline

Application deadline: 11:59 PM EST, Monday 3/1/2021
Notification of award: Thursday 4/29/2021

Eligibility

Scholarship applicants must:
  • Be a high school senior or a college freshman, sophomore, or junior.
  • Have participated as a team member for a minimum of one season on a FIRST® Tech Challenge or FIRST® Robotics Competition team.
  • Be enrolled in an official undergraduate program of study (college, community college, university, or technical school) for the upcoming fall semester.
  • Not be related to any officer or director of EWCP, Inc., EWCP member, or EWCP Scholarship judge.

Eligible students are invited to apply here by the deadline.

Disclaimers

  • Each eligible student may submit no more than one scholarship application.
  • All entries submitted as part of this scholarship application become the property of EWCP and will not be returned. EWCP reserves the right to print and display any submitted essay with credit to the essay author.
  • Decisions of the EWCP Scholarship judges are final.

Contact

For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

2021 Scholarship Winner

EWCP is proud to recognize Maria Izzi, a member of FTC team 10357 "Volt-e-mort" in Herndon, VA, as the winner of the 2021 EWCP Scholarship for Social Change. Maria is a high school senior and plans to attend Duke University majoring in Computer Science.

Maria's Winning Essay

When I learned that an Arab-American-owned store reported George Floyd, I was forced to confront an evaded reality: racism pervaded my Muslim community. I realized it had always existed, as I thought back to summers when my mom “scrubbed the darkness” off my face, to colorism in Indian beauty standards, to my own culpable silence while friends used the N-word, blasé.

This racism has roots in misinformation. My parents interacted with social media about Asian or white changemakers, but didn’t see many Black ones, rather only finding Black people in posts about criminals. I want to work to fight misinformation, using my technical and interpersonal skills, in part gained from FIRST programs.

I’m currently working on computational cancer research at Harvard’s Parmigiani Lab. I have also gained some data science experience working with the Coronavirus Visualization Team, a student group founded out of Harvard, to create data visualizations surrounding the pandemic. I hope to move to more interdisciplinary research, applying my Python, R, heuristics and data science skills alongside psychology, economics, and other principles.

I plan to investigate problems like media misinformation, specifically vulnerability, policy solutions, and COVID/emergency news. A large part of the reason that social media is able to intensify biases, from racism to political ideologies, is because it obstructs opposing viewpoints. By gently exposing users to these different perspectives, they can gain a more comprehensive view of all topics, reducing the current polarization of the world while still allowing the enjoyment of social media.

This product can look like either a policy change to current media platforms, a new platform with an altered algorithm, or an external browser extension/app. The scale of this plan is infinite; while I will start with a small group, such as people like my parents, the product can eventually grow to accommodate all audiences. I have already begun part of this process through creating informative COVID visualizations which provide accurate, in-context data to users. A large part of misinformation comes from non-contextual or misrepresented data at an individual level, so this is already a leap on the path to a solution.

I owe much of my inclination toward this change to FIRST, as it taught me how working small-scale, from the ground up can have magnified impacts, sometimes even more than larger events. Our FIRST Tech Challenge team held many events with a small audience, as well as some with larger ones, including workshops, multi-team collaborative meet n’ greets, and multi-session classes. We discovered that even inspiring one student to start a team, or exposing one person to a new CAD skill could make a huge change in the FIRST community, and thus, across the world.

By leveraging the power of trickle-up change through data science and social media, I hope to help people build independent opinions, ultimately creating a more informed, open-minded world.