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FIRST Washington: A Strong Bond Between Technology and Mission

Posted Sep 07, 2016 12:55 PM
The mission of FIRST Washington is to inspire kids of all ages to pursue careers in science and technology. However, their internal use of technology didn't always align with this mission.

Thanks to a tech makeover conducted by 501 Commons, FIRST Washington (formerly Washington FIRST Robotics) is now utilizing improved systems that allow them to better serve their family of 10,300 students and 5,000 adult coaches, mentors, and volunteers across the state.

Executive Director Erin McCallum says collaboration and communication between their vast networks of volunteers is key to their success. Prior to working with our Technology Services team, she observed a lack of unity and strategic cohesion between their file sharing systems, collaborative tools, and vast network of dedicated volunteers.

Erin recognized FIRST Washington’s assortment of ad hoc tech wasn’t efficient or sustainable. Their established volunteers could wade through their makeshift collaboration system but the same could not be said for newer volunteers.

So, she approached Microsoft and had a productive conversation that resulted in a suggestion to reach out to 501 Commons for further assistance. We conducted a full technological audit of FIRST Washington’s infrastructure and recommended they migrate to new systems like Office 365 and OneDrive and employ a more unified technology plan for collaborating, data tracking, reporting, and volunteer management.

FIRST Washington’s success were celebrated at last year’s Techtacular 2015: STEMpunk. Today, they also employ our Managed IT Services for help desk support.

“501 Commons helped us as a startup organization and built up our bandwidth. So we now have infrastructure that’s transferrable to our large network of volunteers across the state,” Erin says. “Our efficiency has improved dramatically.”

Moving forward, FIRST Washington is enjoying an improved level of structure and coordination among volunteers, staff, and students deserving of an organization of their size, ambition, and mission.

“501 Commons has been helpful at taking a big-picture look at our organization and streamlining programs that help us do our work,” says Kellie Essig, FIRST Washington’s communication coordinator. “Their solutions aren’t one-size-fits-all and are tailored to meet our unique needs.”