Konner Robison first walked into the Community Foundation office as a Sage Ridgel student participating in the High School Giving Circle. As a member of the Giving Circle, he had the opportunity to explore his charitable values and recommended $10,000 in grants to local organizations. From the beginning, Konner stood out as someone who had an exceptional ability to empathize with and motivate others.
Konner met with Community Foundation staff members Jessica Thomsen and Ginny Harding-Davis when he presented as a panel member on Youth Philanthropy at the Philanthropy Leaders Summit in Reno. He then stopped by the office during his holiday break from graduate school at Stanford and we caught up.
Konner describes himself as “a serial entrepreneur.” He started several companies with friends at Stanford while earning his undergraduate degree in Management Science and Engineering. One of the companies, SolTats – a stick-on foam shape to create solar tattoos for Spring Break – failed to take off after manufacturing difficulties. Describing the setback, he said he had the “privilege to fail.” Konner used it as a learning experience and jumping off point for his current venture, a crypto-currency fund that creates social impact for health science and energy access in the third world. Currently, this fund is a successful pilot and he plans soon opening it to institutional investors.
Despite a full schedule of studies and work, Konner places a high priority on the time he spends helping others. Saturdays find him tutoring East Palo Alto students. His face lights up as he talks about his volunteering to direct and produce a play for special needs students with Youth Drama For All (YDFA).
Konner credits his experiences as a high school student with his motivation to continue combining a passion for social improvement with success in business. As a student at Sage Ridge School, he was floored when he learned that a fellow student on full scholarship could not afford a graphing calculator for math class. He was a member of the Community Foundation High School Giving Circle . Konner approached us with the idea of founding a nonprofit to purchase technology for high school students that would help them gain access to advanced math and science classes. He was encouraged and introduced to experienced potential advisory board members (including Community Foundation Trustee, Suzanne Pennington who he named as a primary mentor) and soon the Scholastic Gateway fund was established. The Scholastic Gateway fund gave $143,011 to Washoe County Schools from 2012 to 2014 when Konner graduated from high school and left for Stanford.
Konner plans to return to Reno in June after earning his Master’s Degree in Public Policy and work in operations management for Peppermill Resorts. He also sees Law School in his future. Whatever course Konner chooses for his professional life, he is certain that it will contain an interesting blend of philanthropy, social benefit, and business.