About Us

Playing At Learning is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation founded in May 2004 in the state of California.

We are inspiring and energizing our young people to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers. We are dedicated to providing opportunities for under-served and under-represented communities.

We have partnered with the established nonprofit, FIRST (www.firstinspires.org), to deliver on our mission with fun, engaging sustainable programs targeted at K-12 youth.

FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) engages the imaginations of students through robotics with 4 robust programs involving math, engineering, problem solving, teamwork and “gracious professionalism” in the spirit of cooperative competition.  Even more than STEM skills, FIRST students, through a mentoring partnership with working engineers and scientists, are building self-esteem and self-confidence. They are developing critical life skills such as project management, strategy, teamwork, problem solving, and appreciation of diversity. The students also have an opportunity to hone their interpersonal skills at marketing, communications and public relations as they form alliances with other teams and are interviewed by a panel of judges. In short, students who participate in FIRST programs are better equipped to succeed in the real world, in whatever career they choose to pursue, STEM or any other.

We are the Northern California program partner for FIRST for the FIRST LEGO League Explore  (FLL Explore), FIRST LEGO League Challenge (FLL Challenge) and FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) programs. In addition, we sponsor a FIRST Robotic Competition team (FRC) and provide volunteer support for FRC competitions. In 2012, we opened The Play Space – a “first of its kind” dedicated cross-program FIRST makerspace for teams, coaches, volunteers and the entire FIRST community to use and support each other.

  • Over 8,000 K-12 participants, overall with estimated 34% girls as well as 10% underrepresented minority (URM) and 11% High Need population
  • Organized and Supported the following events:
    • 30 FIRST LEGO League competitions and multiple in person and webinar based trainings  
    • 17 FIRST Tech Challenge competitions and kickoff event
    • 9 FIRST LEGO League Jr expos
  • Engaged over 2,000 Event Volunteers   
  • Supported over 900 teams that provided over100,000+ Coach/Mentor volunteer hours in direct support of youth in FLL Jr, FLL, and FTC programs

“FIRST is indeed more than learning how to build robots, its learning how to lead. I always had the power to take charge and lead a team but robotics is what drew those skills out of me.” –  Natalie Hedberg

Playing At Learning is involved in these activities:

Playing At Learning is a 501(c)(3) non-profit. A copy of our 2004 IRS determination letter is available for review and we have IRS letters affirming our non-profit status in 2016 and 2008. Our tax-payer ID (EIN) number is 20-1241878.  All of our IRS 990 Tax forms are online and available.