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10 Years of FirstHand

It all begins with a simple garment—a lab coat. As students put those coats on, we see a spark of curiosity ignite in their eyes. FirstHand™ isn't just a program; it's a journey into the world of inquiry-based STEM learning, where curiosity reigns supreme and traditional constraints like grades and homework are left at the door.

For a decade now, we've guided students towards discovering their passions and allowing their most audacious ideas to take flight. Our philosophy revolves around inquiry and curiosity, laying the groundwork for a transformative experience that opens students’ eyes to careers in STEM.

"This is a possibility for me."

It’s a sentiment that has guided us from FirstHand's beginnings. What started as single-day field trips to a real-life biotech lab, is now a nationally recognized, US Department of Education-funded, multi-week STEM education program for middle and high school students.

2.5K middle & high school students served

87 schools

23 middle & high schools partners

37K hours of student engagement

15+ average hours of engagement per student

348 mentors

95 mentor companies

FirstHand isn't a solitary endeavor: it's a collaborative effort involving industry partners, educators, and passionate individuals committed to opening pathways to possibility for students at some of Philadelphia’s most undercapitalized schools.

Our vision extends beyond merely exposing students to the world of science; it's about empowering them to see themselves within it. We want every student to walk away with the realization that a career in STEM is not a distant dream but a tangible reality within their grasp.

With each lab visit, each experiment conducted, and each question asked, we aim to nurture not only STEM skills but also the confidence to pursue them.

As we reflect on a decade of FirstHand, we’re eager to increase our impact and extend our reach (more on that soon) over the next 10 years.