CARSON CITY, Nev.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Konner Robison, 17, of Reno and Anthony Schrecengost, 14, of Las Vegas today were named Nevada's top two youth volunteers of 2013 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism. Konner was nominated by Sage Ridge School in Reno, and Anthony was nominated by Sig Rogich Middle School in Las Vegas. The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, now in its 18th year, is conducted by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP).
Konner, a junior at Sage Ridge School, created a fund that provides grants to local schools so they can provide technology-based learning tools to students who cannot afford them on their own. The idea came to him when he discovered that a classmate could not complete her physics homework because her family could not afford to buy her a graphing calculator. “I realized that technology is crucial in education,” he said. “All students, even those who can’t afford the technology, should have access to sophisticated learning tools.”
Konner spent a couple of months researching how he could make a difference, and decided to set up the “Scholastic Gateway Fund” in partnership with the Community Foundation of Western Nevada. He produced literature about the fund, invited respected community members to sit on an advisory board, met with potential donors, and visited schools to determine their needs. He also drew up business and marketing plans, created a website, planned a fundraiser and designed a competitive grant application process. 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.
Anthony, an eighth-grader at Sig Rogich Middle School, has been a committed volunteer for the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) for the past three years, raising both money and awareness to help those who, like him, suffer from food allergies. “Food allergies are a great public health concern in America,” said Anthony, who discovered at age 2 that he was severely allergic to certain foods. His allergies, he says, motivate him every day to work on behalf of others who share his condition.
Anthony has participated in three fundraising walkathons for FAAN, recruited family members to walk with him and raised more than $2,000. He also has devoted many hours to hanging awareness posters in local businesses, doctors’ offices, libraries and other locations. He wrote a book about food allergies to educate classmates at school. And he helped create an “allergy-friendly” food wish list for a local food bank. Anthony said he believes his work is not only helping to protect allergy sufferers by making more people aware of the dangers, but is also helping to advance medical research. “Hopefully, with all of our combined efforts, doctors can figure out why children like me have food allergies and can learn how to better treat them,” he said.
As State Honorees, Konner and Anthony each will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip in early May to Washington, D.C., where they will join the top two honorees from each of the other states and the District of Columbia for four days of national recognition events. During the trip, 10 students will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2013.
The program judges also recognized four other Nevada students as Distinguished Finalists for their impressive community service activities. Each will receive an engraved bronze medallion.
These are Nevada's Distinguished Finalists for 2013:
Anvi Bhakta, 17, of Elko, Nev., a senior at Elko High School, created a unique statewide cancer awareness campaign during Cancer Awareness Month called “Colors for Cancer,” which involved 23 participating schools raising nearly $27,000 to benefit cancer organizations across the state. Anvi, motivated to bring awareness to all cancers and not just the seemingly most promoted breast cancer, focused on a different cancer each week by encouraging her student body to participate in specific fundraisers and to wear the colors that represent each cancer.
Haley Little, 17, of Henderson, Nev., a senior at Las Vegas Academy of the Arts, created the “Amazing Grace Foundation” in 2009 and has since raised more than $8,000 to assist with the medical bills of her friend Grace who suffers from chronic migraines. Haley has sold T-shirts and coordinated two benefit concerts in Grace’s home state of Illinois.
Karthik Rohatgi, 15, of Reno, Nev., a junior at Davidson Academy of Nevada, has helped to promote the Nevada farming community and provided fresh, healthy produce to 28 families and 52 children in need through a program he started in 2011 called “Farm Fresh For Kids.” To support the program, Karthik has built a website, secured partnerships and donations, recruited volunteers, and distributed coupons for fresh produce from local farmers through clinics and the local Head Start program.
Ashley Taylor, 16, of Reno, Nev., a junior at Sage Ridge School, raised nearly $12,000 to support the Make-A-Wish Foundation through a club she founded at her school called, “Kids for Wish Kids.” Ashley, inspired to help others following her father’s difficult battle with cancer, has also written a start-up guide to encourage young people from across the country to create and operate other wish clubs.
“Prudential is proud to honor these students for making meaningful contributions to their communities,” said Prudential Chairman and CEO John Strangfeld. “We hope that shining a spotlight on their initiative, creativity and compassion inspires others to consider how they, too, can make a difference.”
“Through their volunteer service, each of these young people has made his or her mark on at least one person, school or community,” said JoAnn Bartoletti, executive director of NASSP. “When you consider the collective impact of each of these individual acts, it’s clear that young people can be a major force for good.”
About The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards
The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards represents the United States’ largest youth recognition program based solely on volunteer service. All public and private middle level and high schools in the country, as well as all Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, American Red Cross chapters, YMCAs and HandsOn Network affiliates, were eligible to select a student or member for a local Prudential Spirit of Community Award. Nearly 5,000 Local Honorees were then reviewed by an independent judging panel, which selected State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists based on criteria including personal initiative, effort, impact and personal growth.
While in Washington, D.C., the 102 State Honorees – one middle level and one high school student from each state and the District of Columbia – will tour the capital’s landmarks, meet top youth volunteers from other parts of the world, attend a gala awards ceremony at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, and visit their congressional representatives on Capitol Hill. On May 6, 10 of the State Honorees – five middle level and five high school students – will be named America’s top youth volunteers of 2013. These National Honorees will receive additional $5,000 awards, gold medallions, crystal trophies and $5,000 grants from The Prudential Foundation for nonprofit charitable organizations of their choice.
Since the program began in 1995, more than 100,000 young volunteers have been honored at the local, state and national level. The program also is conducted by Prudential subsidiaries in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Ireland and India. In addition to granting its own awards, The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program also distributes President’s Volunteer Service Awards to qualifying Local Honorees on behalf of President Barack Obama.
NASSP (National Association of Secondary School Principals) is the leading organization of and national voice for middle level and high school principals, assistant principals, and all school leaders from across the United States and more than 36 countries around the world. The association provides research-based professional development and resources, networking, and advocacy to build the capacity of middle level and high school leaders to continually improve student performance. Reflecting its longstanding commitment to student leadership development as well, NASSP administers the National Honor Society™, National Junior Honor Society®, National Elementary Honor Society®, and National Association of Student Councils®. For more information about NASSP, located in Reston, VA, visit www.nassp.org.
About Prudential Financial
Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU), a financial services leader, has operations in the United States, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Prudential’s diverse and talented employees are committed to helping individual and institutional customers grow and protect their wealth through a
variety of products and services, including life insurance, annuities, retirement-related services, mutual funds and investment management. In the U.S., Prudential’s iconic Rock symbol has stood for strength, stability, expertise and innovation for more than a century. For more information, please visit http://www.news.prudential.com/.
Editors: For full-color pictures of the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program logo and medallions, click here: http://bit.ly/Xi4oFW.