What is the First2 Network?

Learn about this National Science Foundation funded intitative to connect first-generation and underrepresented students with resources to further their dreams of a career in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM).

The First2 Network (First2) is a West Virginia grassroots effort initiated as a pilot project in 2016. First2 is composed of undergraduate students, college faculty, teachers and educators, state policy makers, industry participants and more who have joined forces to improve the success of undergraduate science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM)—particularly rural first-generation—students.

Research has shown that while West Virginia high school students are interested in STEM careers, only about 30% of those who declare a STEM major actually graduate with a STEM degree. This is an economic problem for the nation, and for West Virginia, and the First2 aim is to double that rate. At the core of First2’s vision to improve student STEM success is the belief that the students themselves should be co-creators of the solutions.

In September 2018, First2 received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science (INCLUDES) award of $7.15 million for five years. First2 was one of only five NSF INCLUDES alliances funded nationwide. First2 aims to develop a statewide network of

innovative stakeholders who will collaborate in an attempt to solve the STEM persistence problem.Through the pilot project, First2 learned of many complementary efforts and projects occurring around the state. First2 is also working to study, implement, and improve these practices and disseminate them statewide and beyond.

What student opportunities are available?

The First2 Network provides an opportunity for students to become part of a community of peers with similar backgrounds and goals, which means they are not going through the college experience alone.

- One two-week summer research internship

- Participation in First2’s educational research study

- Travel support to present at relevant conferences

- Participation in immersive programs designed to help students succeed

- Become a hometown STEM ambassador

- Join research programs throughout the academic year

- Participate in professional meetings

First2 is always looking for motivated students who are passionate about youth leadership. The Network currently has opportunities for students who will begin their first year of college in the fall of 2020 and other undergraduates currently enrolled in college.

High school seniors, non-traditional students, and underrepresented students who plan to major in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field are encouraged to join the First2 Network.

Next: Meet First2 Student Leaders