Organizations Across the Country Are Joining the Call for Kindness

New York, NY, February 17, 2020 – Today, people and organizations around the country are banding together to join Riley’s Way Foundation in their Call for Kindness (#callforkindness)! In these challenging times, there is a growing kindness movement and many young people are leading the way. Like-minded organizations are joining forces to amplify their collective voice to make the world a better place through kindness and empathy, and support for the next generation of kind leaders.

It has been a year of hardship: an ongoing pandemic and the loss it continues to spread; a divided country; households suffering from food and economic insecurity; and ongoing struggles with climate change and racial inequality. It is also a time where we have witnessed countless acts of kindness in local and global communities. The Call for Kindness supports young people who are making a difference and leading with kindness every day.

“Kindness matters and is key to building stronger communities and a better world,” said Dr. Christine O’Connell, Executive Director of Riley’s Way Foundation. “We invite you to join us and add your voice to the Call for Kindness Partnership Pledge, and celebrate kindness and empathy as foundational leadership qualities.”

“Youth Over Guns is committed to empathy in every aspect of our mission. When we create safe and just environments, whether that’s in the streets for a community event or in the classroom for a workshop, we cultivate compassionate leaders. Loving and kind spaces are necessary to build strong communities and long-lasting change,” said Andrea Gonzales, Director of Operations, Youth Over Guns.

Groups who are voicing their support for kindness and empathy around the nation include Common Sense, Read Alliance, Ali Forney Center, 92nd Street Y, Womaze Inc., World Leadership School, Simple Acts Guide, Doing Good Together, Khloe Kares, Invisible Hands, Repair the World, Ryan Nece Foundation, Student Leadership Network, Flint Justice Partnership, The Fresh Air Fund, SuitUp, Coalition Z, Giving Tuesday Spark, Youth Over Guns, One Love Foundation, JCC of Manhattan, State of Kind, Girls Leadership, NYAGV: New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, The HOPE Program, The Startup Squad, Biobus, Dynamo Girl, Circles of Support, Donate2Dance, Rising Stars Youth Foundation, STEM Hour, The Colorization Collective, Impact 100 NYC, CARE: Center for Adolescent Research and Education, Hueman Group Media, CloseUp Foundation, Schools in Partnership, Curiosity Connects Us, The Urban Assembly, The American Camp Association, TheBlackManCan, The Birthday Giving Program, Confident Healthy Women, My Sister’s Keeper, Hance Family Foundation, Child’s Play NY, JUST TRYAN IT, Rise, Breakthrough New York, GenHERation, Verizon, Blue Future, and NYYCI.

“At One Love, we believe kindness is key in any healthy relationship. Especially as we’re all navigating how to stay happy, healthy, and safe in unusual times, kind gestures — no matter how small — can make all the difference,” said Katie Hood, One Love, CEO

Riley’s Way Foundation invites organizations to lend their voice to the chorus of organizations supporting the Call for Kindness through April 7th. They encourage young people to apply for the Call for Kindness and submit their ideas to make a difference in the world for a chance to participate in a dynamic leadership development fellowship and win up to $3,000 to fund it!


Quotes from #CallforKindness Partners:

“At Coalition Z, we believe it is critical to foster the passion young people have for making the world a better place. Riley’s Way enables this very work, and we are so proud to be a partner!” Charlotte Ritz-Jack, Co-Executive Director, Coalition Z.

“As an organization, Common Sense is committed to building a more healthy, equitable, and empowering future for all kids in the digital age. Through Digital Citizenship, kids are able to think critically about the opportunities and challenges of the digital world and use technology responsibly to learn, create, and participate. In alignment with Riley’s Way Foundation, kindness, empathy and connection are essential components for our kids and families to thrive in our digital world.” Tali Horowitz, Common Sense.

“Read Alliance is founded on the value of near-peer connections, and on the compassionate bond that is created between a teen leader and an early reader in our programs. Further, the centering of youth voice and youth value is intrinsic to Read Alliance’s model and we are proud to partner with organizations like Riley’s Way Foundation that align and help elevate this core tenet.” Rossy Francisco, Youth Development Program Associate, Read Alliance.

“We at Womaze believe that messages of hope, love, and support have the ability to create a ripple effect of change. Riley’s Way represents kindness in action and we couldn’t be more proud to be a part of their community.” Hannah Wiser, Co-Founder and Director of Editorial Content at Womaze.

“Circles of Support is committed to joining Riley’s Way Foundation in kindness, empathy, leadership and connection making because we see the inherent dignity and worth of every human being. We believe that all people have the potential to be leaders and to make a difference, and in sharing their own life stories, they connect with others in a meaningful way. The power of storytelling can ignite new kindness and empathy.” Lila Garcia, Family Support Coordinator, Circles of Support.

“We are on a mission to empower teens to become leaders and impact giving in their communities. We believe that cultivating empathy and leadership within our youth is the best path towards a better world for future generations.” Ryan Nece, founder Ryan Nece Foundation. 

“World Leadership School is committed to providing experiences for students to build empathy by walking in the footsteps of others and show kindness by embracing and celebrating differences around the world.” Ryan Dale, Director of Programs, World Leadership School.

“Through my work advocating for family and youth service, I have personally witnessed the power of kindness, empathy and service in empowering young people. Empathy is a muscle that needs to be flexed, and kindness is a habit that needs to be practiced from a very young age. Riley’s Way was created and exists to promote these very same principles. I’ve never engaged with an organization more in line with my own personal and professional values, and I’m so proud to partner with Riley’s Way in promoting the Call for Kindness which is a life changing opportunity for teen leaders, and a force for good in our communities.” Natalie Silverstein, Author of Simple Acts Guide, New York Coordinator of Doing Good Together.

“When are curious about one another, when we wonder about each other, when we are willing to share our personal stories, we become empathetic and kind leaders capable of building a just and free society for all.” Philippa Hughes, Curiosity Connects Us.

“We at Doing Good Together make it our mission to empower families to raise kind and caring children who contribute to their community. That starts when children are young, but we hope to see parents’ and educators’ efforts serve as a springboard as children enter their teen years and continue the habits that were instilled in them.” Diana Allard, Director, Marketing and Communications, Doing Good Together.

“As a community we are here to serve. We are here to support those in need. And we strive to be community leaders.” Khloe Thompson, Founder, Khloe Kares.

“As a podcast company for social change, our team couldn’t be more thrilled to highlight the stories of Riley’s Way Foundation teens who are making a positive impact across various communities,” says Camille Laurente, CEO and Co-Founder of Hueman Group Media. “These young kindness leaders embody values that we can all be inspired by — as we take action on critical issues humanity is facing today.” Camille Laurente, CEO and Co-Founder, Hueman Group Media.

“The State of Kind fosters inclusive leaders by honoring relationships, nurturing health & well being, imagination, innovation & creativity. A State of Kind mindset is essential for building lasting communities and truly changing the world.” Debbie Wasserman, Founder, State of Kind.

“Repair the World mobilizes Jews and their communities to take action to pursue a just world, igniting a lifelong commitment to service. We believe service in support of social change is vital to a flourishing Jewish community and an inspired Jewish life. Our mission connects to Riley’s Way Foundation’s values to inspire kindness, strengthen your community, and bring people together.” Rendy Auguste, Communications and Marketing Manager, Repair the World.

“Our organization believes in providing access to educational opportunities for young people growing up in diverse underserved communities that help prepare them to lead successful lives. We are committed to partners like Riley’s Way because our young people are leaders who look for ways to provide kindness and empathy to their communities. We are in this work together!” Natasha Ramirez, Associate Director, Student Leadership Network.

“SuitUp is committed to joining Riley’s Way because we recognize that nonprofits must work together to create change and drive forward impact. While SuitUp focuses on career readiness, we recognize that we’re doing our students a disservice if we don’t seek to synergize with other organizations to ensure we are providing as many leadership and skill-building tools as we can to help students succeed–in their personal and professional lives.” Lauren Reilly, Executive Director, SuitUp.

“Youth Over Guns is committed to empathy in every aspect of our mission. When we create safe and just environments, whether that’s in the streets for a community event or in the classroom for a workshop, we cultivate compassionate leaders. Loving and kind spaces are necessary to build strong communities and long-lasting change.” Andrea Gonzales, Director of Operations, Youth Over Guns            .

“At One Love, we believe kindness is key in any healthy relationship. Especially as we’re all navigating how to stay happy, healthy, and safe in unusual times, kind gestures — no matter how small — can make all the difference.” Katie Hood, CEO, One Love. 

“The Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan is committed to building an inclusive and accommodating community that welcomes all who choose to call it home. We are bound together by a shared commitment to a better, fairer world, which we put into practice every day, giving back and supporting each other through meaningful actions, kindness, and empathy.” Debra Wasserman, Board Member, JCC Manhattan.

“The State of Kind fosters inclusive leaders by honoring relationships, nurturing health & well being, imagination, innovation & creativity. A State of Kind mindset is essential for building lasting communities and truly changing the world.” Debbie Wasserman, Founder, State of Kind.

“Dynamo Girl is committed to building girls’ self-esteem through physical activity and puberty education. We believe that the touchstone values of Riley’s Way — kindness, empathy, leadership and connection-making — are at the heart of building stronger girls inside and out.” Vanessa Bennett, Founder, Dynamo Girl.

“Now, more than ever, we need kindness and empathy. It has been a very strange and isolating year. It is important that we all find the time to care for each other, reach out, lend a helping hand and connect. Donate2Dance has spent the last year reaching out to dancers in need and dance schools in need. We have mailed thousands of donations of costumes and dance shoes and connected with Donate2Dance Ambassadors to lend a helping hand and donate in their local area. We are so proud and honored to be Riley’s Way Foundation Fellows. We have taken their mission of spreading kindness and love, in honor of Riley Sandler, and integrated it into everything we do at Donate2Dance.” Ava and Sophia Paley, Donate2Dance Founders.

“We always tell our scholar-athletes that, ‘The ball stops bouncing someday’. Whether our scholars stop playing basketball this year or in a decade, they will rely on the values rooted in giving back to their communities that Rising Stars instills in them. We are thrilled to partner with Riley’s Way to continue our shared mission of promoting a culture of kindness amongst our future leaders.” Emily Ades, Director of Education, Rising Stars Youth Foundation.

“Working with underrepresented students through STEM Hour for the past few years has shown what a significant impact time, attention, compassion, and enthusiasm can make. I love seeing the kids’ expectant faces as they walk through the door with new experiments awaiting them and have watched their interests spark into passions for science as we explore STEM together. Kindness and empathy allow us to connect with others, share our passions, and ensure that others can pursue theirs.” Everest Maya-Tudor, Founder, STEM Hour.

“As an organization committed to promoting equity and accessibility in art, the Riley’s Way vision of empathetic, connected communities resonates with us. We hope to work with the Riley’s Way Foundation to create a more kind and diverse world.” Anya Shukla, Co-Founder, The Colorization Collective.

“We started Impact 100 NYC to give love to the city that needs it now more than ever! We support you as we inspire kindness and build community, together.” Mindy Wigutow, Co-President, Impact 100 NYC.

“Kindness and empathy were central to the Teen Producers’ desire to spearhead “Teen Arts Week,” NYC’s first week of free arts events for teens launched in 2019 in coordination with 30+ cultural organizations across all five boroughs. The teens wanted to give back to their communities by ensuring that their peers had access to the life-changing arts experiences and opportunities that their city has to offer.” Ava Lehrer, Director, Center for Arts Learning & Leadership, 92Y.

“The Ali Forney Center proudly joins Riley’s Way Foundation’s call for kindness, empathy, leadership, and connection making. The Ali Forney Center’s work is centered around connecting homeless LGBTQ youth to the kindness they’ve been denied by their parents, empathy that’s been withheld from the community, and leadership development they need to rebuild their lives. Fundamentally, it is these pillars that help communities thrive, overcoming trauma and healing together.”  Walter Castaneda, Ali Forney Center.

“Creating connections is the foundation of building community. The Urban Assembly is proud to support Riley’s Way Foundation #Callforkindness and support the our young people’s ability to develop kindness, empathy, leadership, and connection-making skills to pursue the common good.” David Adams, Urban Assembly.

“The Birthday Giving Program is committed to joining the Riley’s Way Foundation because we believe that practicing values of kindness, empathy, leadership, and connection-making will help make this world a better place!” Sonika Menon, Founder and CEO, The Birthday Giving Program.

“Confident, Healthy Women is committed to joining Riley’s Way in kindness, empathy, leadership, and connection-making because our organization emphasizes the same values in efforts to make the world a kinder place. A large part of our project is creating connections and displaying kindness toward the women receiving our hygiene bags. Although we might not be able to meet each woman who receives a hygiene bag, we are able to connect with them by providing them a short, heartfelt letter. Kindness and empathy might seem like small things in our world, but if we really work on them in our communities and take action, the world will become a better place.” Olivia Stone, Confident, Healthy Women.

“My Sister’s Keeper is super-excited to take the Riley’s Way Kindness Pledge as a demonstration of our commitment to kindness, empathy, leadership, and connection-making. ‘Yes, I am a kindness-KEEPER…'” Tanesha Windom, President & CEO, My Sister’s Keeper

“The Hance Family Foundation presents Self-Esteem Rising, a suite of educational programs that promote self-love, empathy, confidence and leadership. These programs are provided in honor of Emma, Alyson and Katie Hance. Our goal is to create a future where girls and women feel empowered and confident in all aspects of their lives. Over 85,000 participants have already gone through at least one of the Self-Esteem Rising programs! Together, we can rise.” Hance Family Foundation

“At Child’s Play NY, empathy is a core skill we build in our young actors. In order to give truthful performances, we have to listen a lot: to the playwright’s voice, to the given circumstances of the characters and ultimately to our fellow performers in the moment. Kindness is crucial too, because if we don’t give ourselves permission as artists to strive and fail and strive again…we won’t grow as artists. I appreciate that Riley’s Way empowers young people to put the empathy and connection into action. I’m consistently awed by the leaders who rise up from the Call to Kindness and can’t wait to see the stunning projects of 2021.” Jocelyn Greene, Founder, Child’s Play NY

“At JUST TRYAN IT, we empower kids to make a difference in their community. Riley’s Way Foundation shares that mission, amplifying the voice of our next generation of changemakers.” Maureen Colburn, Executive Director, JUST TRYAN IT

“I developed my non-profit, Rise, with the mission to support those with learning differences, and their allies, by providing information about learning disabilities and breaking misconceptions about them. Our community supports, celebrates, and build one another up through connecting and empathizing experiences so students and allies know they are not alone and feel empowered to reach their full potential.” Gia Gambino, Founder and Lead, Rise

“We are proud to join Riley’s Way Foundation in their efforts to strengthen young people’s belief in their own agency to make this world a better place for all of us, no matter what we look like or where we come from. Rooted in kindness, empathy, and connection-making, Riley’s Way is modeling the way for young leaders to make a difference in their community and we’re honored to be a part of that effort!” Nick Guthman, Co-Executive Director, Blue Future

“Now, more than ever, we can all use a little more kindness in our lives. That’s why Verizon is committed to dialing up kindness in our stores and in our communities with the “A Call for Kindness” campaign. Kindness holds the power to bring us together and helps us remember that we are more the same than different. Through these shared human experiences and connections, we will lift each other up in a time where a little kindness goes a long way. And together with our partners we hope to spread this feeling far and wide.” Verizon

“We are committed to empowering the next generation of civic leaders by facilitating both intergenerational and peer-to-peer connections between established and emerging youth activists.” Jason Bohner, Executive Director, NYYCI


More about The Call for Kindness:

The Call For Kindness offers teens the chance to participate in a dynamic leadership development fellowship and win up to $3,000 in funding for a project of their own that inspires kindness and strengthens their local, national or global communities. Students are invited to submit projects tackling anything from equity and social justice issues to building meaningful connections within their school or community. As many as 30 teen-led projects will receive awards, up to five of which will focus specifically on food insecurity, our 2021 special category. The deadline to apply is April 7, 2021.