K-Rob tries to save town's school sports

Kevin Robinson's hometown is in a "financial mess," but he's trying to keep it from affecting the kids. Photo by: Christian Pondella/Red Bull Photofiles

Kevin Robinson's three children are not yet old enough to attend middle school. When they do, he and his wife, Robin, hope they will have the opportunity to participate in sports.

But last week, the Robinsons got word that the East Providence, R.I., Budget Commission, which was established in late December to keep the struggling city out of bankruptcy, decided to cut funding for all middle school sports beginning in the fall of 2012. High school sports programs are currently being analyzed by the commission and could be the next to go.

"The city is in a financial mess, but these cuts aren't being done right. They don't care what they're taking away," Robinson says. "They already cut back on the library program. They're closing the rec center for after-school sports, and now this. It's constantly on the kids because they don't have a voice. Sports are so important to kids this age. It's when they're trying to find an identity and are the most susceptible to getting into trouble. We have to come up with the money."

According to a management audit used by the commission, the savings associated with cutting one year of middle school sports in the two East Providence middle schools is $106,000. Robinson hopes to raise that, as well as additional money to stave off cuts at the high school level.

Two years ago, Robinson started a nonprofit organization called the K-Rob Foundation with a simple, humble goal, "to keep the children of East Providence involved in sports." Born and raised in East Providence, Robinson has remained active in his hometown community over the years, and since 2010, his foundation has helped more than 50 families pay for sports equipment, league dues and travel fees so their children can participate in sports. Now the community is leaning on him to help all the children of East Providence.

"My nephew and niece go to Martin Middle School and Riverside Middle School, the two schools in EP," Robinson says. "I went to Martin. I have a responsibility to the community. I'm trying to bring national awareness to what's going on. We get overlooked here in Rhode Island, but if it's happening here, it's happening in other cities."

Although fundraising efforts have already begun through the organization's website, krobfoundation.com, the bulk of Robinson's efforts are focused on May 20. That's the date of the K-Rob Foundation's second-annual K-Rob Family Fun Festival at Pierce Field. "Last year, we had more than 4,000 people and I hope we have twice as many this year," he says. "Every dollar we raise will go directly to the kids of East Providence."

The event is free to attend and will feature live bands, karate, gymnastics, BMX demonstrations, an interactive village [with rock climbing walls, ropes courses and an NFL skills course], clothing and jewelry vendors and food from local restaurants. "You can come with 10 bucks and have a great time," Robinson says.

A few days after the commission's decision, Robinson sent an e-mail inviting his friends in the NFL and action sports communities to fly in to show their support and help draw attention to the cause. He says he's already received several responses from fellow pros and industry professionals who've booked their tickets to Rhode Island.

"I want to show that there are still good people in the world trying to do good things," Robinson says. "When it comes to making these decisions, every decision needs to be about the kids. That's who they affect the most."