1.15.15: Everyday Heroes - Conor Collins Rogers High School
1.15.15: Everyday Heroes - Conor Collins Rogers High School
Posted on 01/15/2015

As captain of the Rogers High boys swim and dive team, an avid club cyclist, and a senior with a nearly perfect grade point average, Conor Collins is on a mission in his final year of high school to help other students reach their highest potential.

 

“He is a young man who doesn’t just say we need to change things, he makes the change happen. He leads by example in everything he does,” said his swim coach, Stefani Fersch.

 

The 17-year-old Rogers High School student is founder of “Finer Future,” a newly registered nonprofit and 501(c)(3) organization in Washington state.

 

The goals of the organization are simple, Collins said. Finer Future seeks to:

 

• Help students, especially those from disadvantaged families, get connected to school and their community with the creation of after-school clubs in elementary and junior high schools. Students help peers by providing tutoring and mentorship, and Finer Future partners with the community to provide the financial resources necessary to support the extracurricular opportunities.

 

• Raise money through donations and fundraisers to support the clubs, award an annual scholarship to a graduating high school senior in Washington state, and provide backpacks filled with school supplies to assist students from families in need.

 

Since the organization was formed last February, Collins and six of his fellow Rogers High students have coordinated fundraisers, established a website to collect donations and connect those who want to help, and awarded a $500 scholarship to an Orting High School senior. The scholarship is open to high school seniors statewide.

 

The group continues to organize fundraisers this year and hopes to increase the high school scholarship to $1,000 this June, Collins said.

 

The idea to form the Finer Future organization began, Collins said, as a way to fulfill his community service hours required for graduation.

 

And it grew from there.

 

“I knew there had to be a way to get kid more engaged after school,” he said. “Being involved in extracurricular activities is closely tied to academic success.”

 

After sharing his idea with some teachers and getting offers of help from a half dozen of his classmates, Collins drafted a comprehensive proposal and presented it to Superintendent Tim Yeomans.

 

Yeomans welcomed the teen’s idea and encouraged him to meet with the school district’s legal advisers at the Patterson Buchanan law firm in Seattle. The firm volunteered to review and submit necessary legal documents, including articles of incorporation and bylaws, for nonprofit status to the state.

 

Collins also contacted an estate lawyer friend in Tacoma who helped him submit, also on a pro bono basis, required forms to the Internal Revenue Service.

 

“It doesn’t matter the task given, Conor’s ‘I can do it’ attitude is impressive — and even better, he not only believes he can accomplish any task, he actually does accomplish any task,” Fersch said.

 

With Finer Future’s legal status and structure in place, Collins is searching this year for a student successor to keep the organization’s momentum going after he graduates.

Collins has applied to Stanford University, as well as numerous other colleges, with a plan to pursue an international relations degree. His career sights are set on becoming an international lawyer.

 

The former Ballou Junior High and Zeiger Elementary student maintains a 3.9 grade point average this year and is enrolled in a rigorous course load, including Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus, AP Government, and AP Physics.

 

In addition to swimming throughout his high school years, the 17-year-old is one of the Pacific Northwest’s premier cyclists, having placed eighth in 2013 in the annual Everest Challenge bike race in Bishop, California.

 

A member of the “Puyallup Cyclopaths” cycling group, Collins has also cycled to the top of three of the world’s toughest hill climbs — all located in Hawaii. He climbed 11,100 feet in a grueling 45-mile bike trek up Mauna Loa and also rode to the top of Mt. Haleakala and Mauna Kea.

 

Before he graduates in June, Collins is working to secure donations and contact teachers to inform them that Finer Future is there to support them with developing after-school learning opportunities.

 

“The resources are there for them,” he said. “I want to see schools inspire kids to go as far as they can dream.”

 

 

Click here to read about previous Everyday Heroes