Riley's Way Foundation was established by Mackenzie & Ian Sandler on August 19th, 2014 in order to honor the life of their nine-year-old daughter Riley Hannah Sandler.

Riley was a magical child and a joy to her family, friends and the world. Riley was set to enter fourth grade at the Nightingale-Bamford School and, on the last night of her first year as a freshman girl at Timber Lake Camp, Riley went into respiratory arrest and died on August 18th, 2014.


Our Mission

To honor Riley, our mission is to carry her spirit and love of life forward by instilling her kindness, caring, compassion and empathy in other children. We think of her as the truest of friends who loved helping people.

Through her foundation, we honor this legacy by taking direct action to help children reach their full potential. We do this through inclusive, character-building programs that help children build self-esteem and confidence as they learn key skills such as kindness and empathy.


Our Vision

Riley's Way Foundation’s vision is to emphasize the values of kindness and empathy among children in order to create a broader movement of changed behavior and children working together to make the world a better, kinder place.


Our Team

These passionate and dedicated individuals bring us closer to instilling kindness, caring, compassion and empathy in other children.

Click below to learn about the people helping us reach our mission.

RWF has been working with Community Resource Exchange (CRE) to develop its theory of change, overall strategy, and programming. CRE is a nonprofit consulting firm that provides nonprofits with the strategies and tools they need to plan smartly, operate effectively, accelerate performance, and produce results - helping them successfully achieve their missions.

CRE has led RWF Board members through a dynamic planning process to develop a clear mission and strategy for RWF that honors Riley’s spirit by making a tangible impact in the lives of children, while structuring this work so that it continues sustainably into the future.


Programs & Initiatives

Since our inception, RWF has started two programs: Riley’s Way Program and the Youth Advisory Council.


Riley's Way Program provides a $60,000 grant to participating elementary schools in New York City to help them focus on social and emotional learning for both their teachers and students. This three-year program promotes 3rd and 4th graders' awareness of kindness and empathy, and encourages and recognizes students who are kind and empathetic. Our goal is to generate a virtuous cycle of kindness in schools, with the hope that it leads to a positive, measurable, long-term impact in individual students lives as well as in their schools and communities. 


The Youth Advisory Council (YAC) connects students from public and private high schools to give them the opportunity to work together to spread kindness and friendship. The YAC supports RWF in three ways: assisting our partner elementary schools in implementing Riley's Way Program; spreading the mission of RWF through a service-learning project; and providing general guidance to the Foundation.


What We've Achieved


We are extremely thankful for the more than 3,000 families who have helped us raise over $2.66 Million since Riley’s Foundation was created in August 2014.

Read more about our impact