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
***For Immediate Release***
Riley’s Way Foundation
718-855-1855; www.rileysway.org/call-for-kindness/, @rileyswayfoundation
*Contact information for past winners provided upon request
New York, NY, January 20, 2020 – 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.
This week of January 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: www.rileysway.org/call-for-kindness/
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 support them in their growth.”.
Fifteen Call for Kindness winners, announced on May 6, will receive up to $3000 each to fund their teen-led project. They will join others from across the country in the Riley’s Way Kind Leadership Series, comprising 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 NY focused on underrepresented voices. Other initiatives include projects to build shared vegetable gardens in low-income communities in in Missouri, create youth empowerment workshops and STEM after-school programs in NY, and throw birthday parties for those affected by poverty, addiction, or abuse in Illinois. (The 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 IL, CA, TN, FL; 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 2500 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 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 nine-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 www.rileysway.org/call-for-kindness-fellows/
• Daphne Zuckerman, Women-in-Need partnership (NY, NEW YORK)
Daphne is partnering with Women-In-Need, a shelter that provides extended temporary housing for homeless women and their children, to provide an after-school program to children ages 5-12 focusing on STEAM.
• Eman Hamid, Purple America (Seattle, WASHINGTON STATE)
The Purple America Initiative is a new student-led program that connects high school students from across the United States to have discussions online about some of the leading political and social controversies in the news today.
• Hannah Wiser, Womaze (Boca Raton, FLORIDA)
Womaze is a free app centered around self-empowerment for women through elevating compassion, kindness, empathy, connection, and sensitivity.
• Luis Hernandez & Andrea Gonzales, Youth Over Guns (NY, NEW YORK)
Youth Over Guns provides workshops for teens in underserved communities in New York City, that provide advocacy skills, youth empowerment and civic engagement.
• Matthew Yekell, Tony’s Place partnership (Houston, TEXAS)
Matthew works with Tony’s Place, one of Houston’s largest LGBTQ+ Homeless organizations, to help homeless queer youth by providing them with free, home-cooked meals and revitalizes clothing donations by reinventing donated clothing for teens.
• Nicole Mateo & Amber Rahman, Girl RPRSNTD (NY, NEW YORK)
Girl RPRSNTED is a book club and online community to highlight books that represent minority authors, marginalized stories, and topics important to young women today so that all voices can be heard and shared.
• Robert Michaelson, Browning and Mott Haven Academy Charter School partnership (NY, NEW YORK)
Robert created a collaboration between The Browning School and Mott Haven Academy Charter School to prioritize admission to children involved in the child welfare system, and to set up opportunities for them on different sports, art, chess and afterschool programs.
• Sophie Bernstein, Grow Healthy (St. Louis and Kansas City, MISSOURI)
Grow Healthy is a youth-led initiative to build, plant, maintain, and grow healthy fresh vegetables at low-income St. Louis and Kansas City daycares, pre-schools and shelters while providing a hands-on learning laboratory and STEM workshops for young children.
• Sonika Menon & Rinna Talwar, The Birthday Giving Program (Chicago, ILLINOIS)
The Birthday Giving Program is a teen-founded 501(c)(3) that provides birthday bags and celebrations to children, adults, senior citizens, and veterans affected by poverty, abuse, addiction, homelessness, violence, physical/mental challenges, old age, and loneliness.
• Valentina Carrion, Maverick Movie Night and Carnival (Southwest Ranches, FLORIDA) Valentina and her schoolmates use the connections in their school community to support a chosen family or cause or need through an annual student-led event that brings their community together.
• Crystal Chan, SPACE 4 US (San Francisco, CALIFORNIA)
SPACE 4 US connects underprivileged middle and high school students with professional resources in San Francisco and organizes free career panels, workshops, and webinars for students to speak with professionals from different career fields.
• Ellie Campbell, Crafternoon (NY, NEW YORK)
Crafternoon is a new project that is designed to brighten up the lives of children in hospitals through craft kits, put together by volunteers.
• Hannah Liu & Lydia Palmer, Building Bridges (NY, NEW YORK)
Building Bridges created a mentorship program between the Nightingale-Bamford School eighth graders and Sisulu-Walker Charter School of East Harlem fifth graders and between Sisulu-Walker fifth graders and Nightingale kindergarteners for a read aloud program.
• Shaylee Cooper, We Dine Together (Oregon City, OREGON)
We Dine Together is a completely student-led movement with the goal to have no one sitting alone during lunch.
• Sophia Chen & Michaela Kim, Youth Explorers in STEM (Seattle, WASHINGTON STATE) Youth Explorers in STEM engages kids in underserved areas in STEM through partnerships with nonprofits and afterschool programs to host workshops that encourage their curiosity.