Announcing Riley's Way Call for Kindness

Riley’s Way Foundation: Call for Kindness 2019

New York, NY, January 21, 2019 – Riley’s Way is excited to announce the launch of a national contest: the Call for Kindness. The Call for Kindness is an incredible opportunity for young people to share their ideas to make a difference in their communities and win funding to implement their projects. “It’s one thing to be a good person at heart and it’s another to actually put kindness into action. It is really rewarding” said Arabella, an 11th-grader at The Hewitt School and member of Riley’s Way Councils – a public-private school program that empowers young leaders to promote kindness and empathy.

Riley's Way’s Call for Kindness is looking to fund six ambitious, teen-led projects that drive change, inspire kindness, and build meaningful connections in their communities. We invite individuals or groups of students from across the US to apply. Each winning project will receive a $3,000 prize to complete or continue their work with their school or nonprofit partner.

To-date, Riley’s Way Foundation has worked with over 1,000 students and teachers, and empowers young leaders to use kindness and empathy to create meaningful connections and drive positive change. The Call for Kindness, Riley’s Way’s newest program, and first national initiative, officially launched on Monday, January 21, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The Call for Kindness will be judged by current Riley’s Way Council teens, who will lend their expertise and mentorship on building connections and fostering meaningful relationships with peers, mentors, and community members from all walks of life. Using current young leaders to identify and support future leaders is what Riley’s Way is all about. As Sophia, a 10th-grader at The Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria and co-chair of one of the Riley’s Way Councils beautifully put it, “With so much happening in the world, it is important for everyone, especially youth, to step up and improve our society. Thanks to Riley’s Way, I am a part of this movement.”

Riley’s Way Foundation, founded in 2014 by Ian and Mackenzie Sandler after the loss of their nine-year-old daughter, Riley Hannah Sandler, empowers young leaders to use kindness and empathy to create meaningful connections and drive positive change in the world. “I am thrilled to see Riley’s spirit and love of life carried forward in the Call for Kindness by fostering her kindness, caring, compassion, and empathy in other children. This mission has never been more important than it is today” expressed Ian Sandler.

For information on how to answer the Call for Kindness, visit www.callforkindness.org and watch the short video that our Council members created. The website also contains examples of teen- led community projects and frequently asked questions to get you started.

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About the Call for Kindness

Riley’s Way is looking for six “Kindness Fellows” who will work with their school or a nonprofit partner to design and implement a project that embodies Riley’s Way values to inspire kindness and build meaningful connections in their community. Project ideas can be brand new projects or ideas that improve or expand an existing teen-led initiative.

Riley’s Way will award a $3,000 prize to six teen-led projects in order to complete or continue their initiatives. The award money will be granted to the Kindness Fellows’ school or nonprofit partner to fund the project. Kindness Fellows will receive publicity on the Riley’s Way website and social media, guidance from Riley’s Way staff as they implement their project, and automatic participation in our 2019 Youth Conference.

Complete applications are due at 11:59 pm EST on March 22, 2019. Our teen judges will review the applications with support from the Riley’s Way Foundation Board, key partners, and staff. Projects will be judged on how they embody Riley's Way values, their feasibility, need, and impact. We will announce the winners on May 6, 2019, in honor of Riley’s birthday.

About Riley’s Way Foundation

Riley’s Way Foundation empowers young leaders to use kindness and empathy to create meaningful connections and drive positive change through their councils, programming, and events. By equipping teens, students, and young adults with life tools, they are building a network of leaders who view kindness and empathy as strengths to drive change, create connections, communicate ideas, and develop projects, and make a difference in their communities.

A powerful memory of love and empathy is their foundation. Riley's Way Foundation was established by Mackenzie & Ian Sandler in 2014 to honor the life of their nine-year-old daughter Riley Hannah Sandler. They honor Riley's spirit and love of life by helping young leaders to use kindness and empathy to drive change and create connections in their communities, building a better world.

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Link to downloadable press release

Financiers Schooled in Empathy Over Barbecue at Riley's Way Gala (Bloomberg)

Thank you to everyone who came to our event on Thursday, March 16, 2017. It was a great event and we hope you all had fun. Check out this write up in Bloomberg News about the event!

 

Financiers Schooled in Empathy Over Barbecue at Riley's Way Gala

As he walked off the stage at Manhattan’s Hill Country BBQ Thursday night, Ian Sandler, chief operating officer of Insight Venture Partners, got a hug from a male friend in finance, then another and another.

Apparently his remarks about kindness had been heard. Also, Sandler, 42, is adorable. Also, there was a lot of sweet barbecue sauce at the Flatiron District venue, which hosted the Riley’s Way Foundation Biennial BBQ Blowout.

Ian and Mackenzie Sandler  Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Ian and Mackenzie Sandler Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Sandler and his wife Mackenzie created the foundation in August 2014, when their nine-year-old daughter Riley went into respiratory arrest on her last night of sleep-away camp and died. From the start, the couple decided to focus on their daughter’s life "and not her incomprehensible ending," Sandler told guests.

Deciding what to do to reflect Riley’s caring nature evolved out of brainstorming sessions largely guided by Paul Burke, the headmaster at Riley’s Upper East Side private all-girls school, Nightingale-Bamford, where empathy training is well in place: younger kids have daily check-ins about their feelings, and older ones are discouraged from labeling someone their best friend so they develop broader social networks.

Students from Nightingale-Bamford sing with Rabbi Angela Buchdahl.  Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Students from Nightingale-Bamford sing with Rabbi Angela Buchdahl. Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Early on, the foundation’s builders considered buying a farm to turn into a retreat, said John Horner, chief investment officer and treasurer at JPMorgan Chase. Eventually, the group settled on school-based programs that encourage kindness.

While there’s a likely progression for a nascent philanthropy -- piloting, refining, scaling up -- the divisive election year has kicked this effort into high gear.

"It’s accelerated everything we’re doing," Sandler said when asked about the impact of the presidential election. In January, the foundation hired a second program director (doubling its staff) to prepare for expansion. And there’s increasing interest from donors, evident from the high turnout at the benefit.

"In the last six months, the foundation has taken on another life. People are pushing for it," said Sandler. "Regardless of politics, you can either complain or take direct action. This is teaching kindness student by student, teacher by teacher."

For Sandler, the election’s rancor crystallized support of programs that bring together students from different socioeconomic backgrounds. The foundation is also focusing on schools that lack resources to implement social-emotional learning, which at Riley’s Way includes visits by performing artists and a book club.

"They’re a blank canvas, which gives us an ability to move the needle," Sandler said. Two grantees are public elementary school in the Ridgewood neighborhood of Queens and a charter school in Harlem.

John Horner and Meryl Heller, board members of Riley’s Way Foundation Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

John Horner and Meryl Heller, board members of Riley’s Way FoundationPhotographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Sandler said people in finance have been essential to the foundation. Donors who work at Insight Venture Partners as well as Citadel, Carlyle and Morgan Stanley, where Sandler also worked, have helped raise $3 million.

That amount gives the foundation resources to make mistakes, to evaluate its efforts, and think seriously about scaling up, Sandler said.

The scene at Hill Country BBQ Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

The scene at Hill Country BBQPhotographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

One year after forming, the foundation gave two schools $60,000 grants, to be dispensed over three years, to shape a curriculum for third- and fourth-graders. A portion is earmarked for teachers’ professional development, said Katie Leonberger, chief executive of Community Resource Exchange, which advised the foundation. The foundation also has a Youth Advisory Council, teens from several schools that do public service and work with the younger cohorts.

"It’s been so gratifying to see the foundation develop," said Brandon Haley, founder of Holocene Advisors and formerly of Citadel, as a waiter passed around Hill Country’s sliders.

David Vroubel and Brandon Haley  Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

David Vroubel and Brandon Haley Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Also in the crowd: Actor Ben Shenkman (his wife, Lauren, is the newly hired program director), who plays Paul Giamatti’s lawyer friend Ira on "Billions."

"Empathy drives actors under ideal conditions -- but also competitiveness, narcissism and insecurity," Shenkman said. "Good acting sublimates all that stuff."

And so, it seems, does a good party.

Actor Ben Shenkman and Lauren Shenkman  Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Actor Ben Shenkman and Lauren Shenkman Photographer: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg

Scene Last Night: Honoring Riley With Barbecue, Bunny Ears- (Bloomberg)

Scene Last Night: Honoring Riley With Barbecue, Bunny Ears-  (Bloomberg)

The RSMF 2015 Winter Event was a huge success and all the buzz! Check out our featured article in BloombergBusiness, highlighting the evening!

Almost 500 people stood shoulder-to-shoulder to hear Ian Sandler speak about his daughter on Thursday night. Some wore bunny ears.