Konner and Tera Robison, are twins, but instead of competing with each other both have taken the opportunity to give back to their community in huge ways. 17 year-old Konner Robison was just named High School Volunteer of the Year for Nevada in the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, the nation’s largest program honoring high school and middle school volunteers. A junior at Sage Ridge School in Reno, Konner created a fund that provides grants to local schools so they can buy calculators and other technology for kids who can’t afford them.
“One of the girls in my freshman class didn’t have a calculator that she needed and I was pretty struck that at our school there are students who can’t afford technology,” Konner said. So he decided to do something about it and set up the Scholastic Gateway Fund. He could have piggybacked on many other charities, but wanted something new. He told me the biggest challenge he faced was starting his program completely from scratch. “I had to start everything, I had to write the bylaws, make a logo, I had to go out and raise money, that was definitely a hard part.”
He met with potential donors and visited schools to find out what they needed. Konner has raised tens of thousands of dollars, and delivered his first grant in September to a public high school so that it could make advanced graphing calculators available to every student who needs one. Tera, his twin sister, has also been very busy helping others. She heads up a one-of-a-kind Big Brothers Big Sisters program at Sage Ridge School. It’s the only program where the high school students visit schools and eat lunch with their little brother or sister. “A lot of times with all these kids around they kind of get lost in the shuffle,” said Tera. “And it’s just really rewarding to know that there’s someone there looking out for them.” She told me that she gets as much as she gives with this experience. “When I was younger, I was shy and had low self-confidence. I wanted to be able to help someone who struggled with those same things,” Tera said. “I just wanted to make a difference.”
Together, these twins make a dream team of community service in Northern Nevada. I’ve known Tera and Konner for four years and I never realized as I walked past them in the hall every day how much they do for others. Being twins makes this whole experience even better for them. “It’s like having a built in best friend,” Tera says appreciatively. Konner hopes being recognized with a national award will bring more attention to his non-profit, and that will mean more calculators for kids who need them.