Calling All Teens Who Want to Make a Difference: Riley's Way Foundation Announces the Call for Kindness

Annual Contest Awards Teens Dollars to Help Make the World a Better Place, Jan. 20-March 31, 2020

Join the Call for Kindness!

In a new year and decade, in a country divided, Riley’s Way Foundation challenges U.S. teens, 13 to 19, to apply for grants to bring more kindness into the world.

On Monday, Jan. 20, 2020, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy of building bridges and strengthening communities, Riley’s Way Foundation launches its second annual Call for Kindness Contest. The Call for Kindness is a national contest that awards grants to teen-led projects that inspire kindness, strengthen communities, and bring people together.

The deadline for submissions is March 31, 2020. For more information, visit

Riley’s Way Foundation empowers young leaders to use kindness and empathy to create meaningful connections and drive positive change in the world. The Call for Kindness provides an opportunity for young people to dream big, and receive thousands of dollars to implement ideas to make the world better. Laura Kikuchi, Riley’s Way Program Director, says, “I have seen winners strengthen their confidence, independence, and leadership skills, and it has been an honor to support them in their growth.”

Fifteen Call for Kindness winners, announced on May 6, will receive up to $3,000 each to fund their teen-led project. They will join others from across the country in the Riley’s Way Kind Leadership Series, comprising of mentorship, professional development, and peer-learning. Some participants will also attend the Riley’s Way Youth Leadership Retreat.

Winners from the inaugural 2019 contest included: Purple America, a Washington state-based political discussion group connecting teens from “red” and “blue” states; Womaze, an app created in Florida promoting self-empowerment for women; and Girl RPRSNTD, an online book club in New York focused on underrepresented voices. Other initiatives include projects to build shared vegetable gardens in low-income communities in Missouri, create youth empowerment workshops and STEM after-school programs in New York, and throw birthday parties for those affected by poverty, addiction, or abuse in Illinois. (2019 winners are listed below)

“Riley’s Way and the Call for Kindness allowed us to continue our violence prevention workshop series and multiply our reach in just a few months,” said Andrea Gonzales, 19, and Luis Hernandez, 17, of Youth Over Guns in New York, which held workshops for over 200 young people this year.

Last year, Call for Kindness winners reached over 30,000 people. The Birthday Giving Program gave out over 1,500 birthday bags, expanding chapters in Illinois, California, Tennessee and Florida; Purple America hosted 22 small groups including new chapters in Atlanta and Wyoming; Womaze grew to over 30,000 subscribers; Grow Healthy worked with 85 youth volunteers; and We Dine Together grew to 60 people and is working to provide programming to 2,500 students schoolwide!

"The money from the Call for Kindness helped me in my work with Tony's Place to serve almost 1,000 home-cooked meals to LGBTQ+ teens affected by homelessness,” said Matthew Yekell, 17, from Houston, Texas, who did all of the cooking with his mom.

“There is more power than people believe behind a kind person with a strong goal, no matter who they are,” said Wynter Davis, 16, from Oregon, who makes sure no one eats alone at lunch with We Dine Together. “Magic exists in people who have the courage to dream big.” The other project leader Shaylee Cooper, 17, continued, “Riley’s Way has changed me for the better; they were always there supporting me and guiding me through.” One student told them that if it weren’t for this club, he wouldn’t be around today. “I encourage anyone who is contemplating the Call for Kindness to get involved … Across the country, people are trying to make the world a better place.”

“An idea can take shape and grow into a movement,” said Dr. Christine O’Connell, Executive Director of Riley’s Way. “Who better to lead a national Kindness movement than our youth? They have the ideas, passion and drive to make it happen.”

“When we started Riley’s Way, we knew our programs needed to be so effective that people who never met Riley would support them,” said Ian Sandler, who co-founded the foundation with his wife Mackenzie after the loss of their 9-year-old daughter Riley in 2014. “We were overjoyed with the depth and breadth of the submissions from our first Call for Kindness. The participants have become part of the Riley’s Way community; many attended our first Youth Leadership Retreat last fall. Through these two programs, we are now able to expand our reach from our local Councils to begin to create a national Kindness Movement.

“If you are thinking of participating in our Call for Kindness, go for it! We can’t wait to meet you!”  

About Riley’s Way Foundation: Riley’s Way Foundation sees a future where kind leaders build a better world. We empower young people to use kindness, empathy and meaningful connections to drive that change. A nonprofit organization, Riley’s Way supports and connects young leaders around the country to become powerful voices and kind leaders in their communities. Our three flagship programs provide teens the tools and resources to envision change and achieve it: Riley’s Way Councils, The Call for Kindness, and Youth Leadership Retreat.

2019 Call for Kindness Winners: (Full project profiles at

  • Daphne Zuckerman, Women-in-Need partnership (NY, NY)​​
  • Eman Hamid, Purple America (Seattle, WA)
  • Hannah Wiser, Womaze (Boca Raton, FL)
  • Luis Hernandez & Andrea Gonzales, Youth Over Guns (NY, NY)
  • Matthew Yekell, Tony’s Place partnership (Houston, TX)
  • Nicole Mateo & Amber Rahman, Girl RPRSNTD (NY, NY)
  • Robert Michaelson, Browning and Mott Haven Academy Charter School partnership (NY, NY)
  • Sophie Bernstein, Grow Healthy (St. Louis and Kansas City, MO)
  • Sonika Menon & Rinna Talwar, The Birthday Giving Program (Chicago, IL)
  • Valentina Carrion, Maverick Movie Night and Carnival (Southwest Ranches, FL)
  • Crystal Chan, SPACE 4 US (San Francisco, CA)
  • Ellie Campbell, Crafternoon (NY, NY)
  • Hannah Liu & Lydia Palmer, Building Bridges (NY, NY)​
  • Shaylee Cooper, We Dine Together (Oregon City, OR)
  • Sophia Chen & Michaela Kim, Youth Explorers in STEM (Seattle, WA)​

Media Contact:
Christine O'Connell,, 917-627-5975

Source: Riley's Way Foundation


Categories: Educational News, Parenting, Philanthropy

About Riley's Way Foundation

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Riley's Way Foundation is a national nonprofit organization that empowers the next generation of kind leaders, providing young people with the programs, support, and inclusive community they need to thrive as changemakers.

Riley's Way Foundation
Rileys Way Foundation, 30 Third Ave (203)
Brooklyn, NY 11217
United States