The sound was deafening. Metal on metal, crunching and slicing. Kids screaming in unison like some kind of giant wave crashing on a beach. The echo of a distorted loudspeaker parsing commentary. The energy was otherworldly too - 1,200 teenagers low on sleep, high on snacks, competing for a chance to head to the USA, where more teenagers were waiting.

This was the FIRST Robotics Regional Finals in 2015 and the beginning of the Blackbird Foundation. Our mission is to supercharge creativity in young people.

FIRST Robotics - Regional Finals 2019

When we began working with FIRST, we knew our founders were struggling with a talent shortage in Australia. We knew young people were not rushing to choose STEM subjects at school, and we knew those who wanted to work in start-ups were heading to Silicon Valley.

FIRST Robotics was making STEM fun! We figured if more kids studied engineering and science at school, then they would choose STEM degrees at university and our Founders would be able to hire them.

So we dove right in, attending events, judging competitions, collecting discarded balls in the robot pits. We raised money and we tried to raise the profile of FIRST by inviting our founders and investors to the FIRST regional finals at Homebush.

At first we thought we were helping young people to learn software engineering and electronics. Those were the tactical skills our founders needed and we figured FIRST would help young people acquire those skills.

But FIRST is so much more than that and over the years, we’ve come to realise that those skills are just one small part of the story. FIRST gives kids an identity, a truer sense of themselves. It gives them confidence, makes them unafraid of failure, helps them build social skills and most importantly, gives them purpose.

Four years in and now we know what the real magic of FIRST is: imagination and creativity.

With this belief in our hearts, we are forming the Blackbird Foundation. We believe the key to unlocking the limitless potential of young people is in unleashing their imagination and creativity.

Creativity

Most people associate creativity with artistry. And it’s true, the best artists are by definition creative. But so are the best engineers. The best politicians are creative. Albert Einstein, one of the most celebrated scientists of all time, said that “Creativity is intelligence having fun”.

A young person who is creative is confident, comfortable with the unknown and a curious, life long learner. These are all key attributes needed to sail the open seas and confront an uncertain future with increasingly complex challenges.

Apply for Funding

We are looking to partner with organisations that believe in the potential of young people, and the importance of creativity.

If you are doing this work, we want to meet you, we want to fund you, we want to surround you in the Blackbird community and help you to find success beyond what you considered possible.

To start things off, we’re giving away up to $10,000 in community grants to support young people who are working to inspire their peers. Maybe you’re teaching maths on TikTok or creating an online university. Perhaps you are fighting to change an outdated law that allows injustice or have created a Youtube channel on conservation watched by millions. We’re looking for people who are inspiring others and making a difference. If this is you, apply here.

To learn more about our mission, what we are looking for and to get in touch, head to our website.

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