Today we would like to invite our friends at the Rainbow STEM Alliance for a guest blog post!
Here’s what RSA has to say:
Thank you to the LGBTQ+ of FIRST student group for allowing us to have a guest blog post this week! First off, a bit about The Rainbow STEM Alliance. The mission of The Rainbow STEM Alliance, Inc. shall be to promote acceptance and inclusion of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, etc. youth within the Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics educational fields. The Rainbow STEM Alliance (RSA) was founded by Jon Kentfield, Brian Boehler and Tom Wexler. These three individuals are alumni and volunteers of FIRST , an organization that plans and hosts robotics competitions for young people. They saw through the students involved that there is a need to help and support LGBTQ+ youth competing on teams. RSA’s initial focus will be to support LGBTQ+ youth in the FIRST Progression of Programs, with goals to expand to other STEM Education programs in the near future. The RSA is running a Go Fund Me as a means to get funding for LGBTQ+ of FIRST lapel pins (something co-founder Jon Kentfield has previously done in the past), as well as pronoun ribbons, etc. We look to have funding complete by January 5th, 2019.
If you would like to support this project, please visit our Go Fund Me at:
We are also set up on AmazonSmile! You can donate to us just by buying things on Amazon, but starting at the smile.amazon.com address! To sign up, go to smile.amazon.com and choose The Rainbow Stem Alliance Inc. as your favorite charity. The best part is, you can start an order in your amazon app, and finish it on smile.amazon.com
A bit more about the founders:
Jon Kentfield, President of The Rainbow STEM Alliance, has been a participant in FIRST since 2000 as a student on a FIRST LEGO League team, and went on to be a part of FIRST Robotics Competition Team 173, as well as mentor their FIRST initiatives through, at the time, the FIRST Vex Challenge, and FIRST LEGO League. He has gone on to volunteer for the different FIRST programs in some capacity since 2003, and currently works for a Crown Supplier to the FIRST Robotics Competition. He has seen first hand what it means to students to have this resource, and continues to promote LGBTQ+ of FIRST at every event possible, usually by wearing a lapel pin, and attending the LGBTQ+ of FIRST meet ups whenever possible.
Tom Wexler serves as the Treasurer of RSA. He started as a student in 2000 on a FIRST Robotics Competition team, and began volunteering in 2003. As a volunteer, Tom has served as a former Senior Volunteer Coordinator for FIRST Mid-Atlantic and a current MC in FIRST Robotics Competition and FIRST Tech Challenge. He has also mentored FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST Robotics Competition Teams in the greater Philadelphia area. Tom currently works in the Technology Department for a suburban K-12 public school district. He sees how important representation and equity are for LGBTQ+ students within STEM competitions, and hopes that this new organization can have a meaningful impact on students across the globe.
Brian Boehler is the Secretary of The Rainbow STEM Alliance. He has been a part of FIRST since 1999 when he joined a FIRST LEGO League team. Since then, he has helped to mentor and coach various teams. In 2007, he began judging and volunteering at events and in 2011, became the Robotics Director for an education-based non-profit. Now, he runs events for all 4 levels of FIRST Programs within the Northern Indiana area.
For more information about The Rainbow STEM Alliance, please visit our website and social media:
About LGBTQ+ of FIRST
LGBTQ+ of FIRST is an organization dedicated to raising awareness and acceptance of LGBTQ+ participants in FIRST Robotics. LGBTQ+ of FIRST was started to spread visibility of the LGBTQ+ community within FIRST and help teams become safe spaces for their members.