Completed applications are due at 11:59pm EST on March 25, 2024.
The Call For Kindness (C4K) Fellowship gives young leaders (ages 13-23) across the country the skills, connections, and funding they need to run social impact projects that inspire kindness and strengthen their local, national, or global communities. The Fellowship consists of a 12-month leadership development fellowship and a startup grant of up to $5,000. Fellows receive 1:1 coaching and project support, virtual skill-building sessions, an in-person leadership Retreat, mentorship opportunities, and a peer community of other young changemakers. Fellows can also apply for Continuation Grants with ongoing project support and coaching.
Submit a new or existing youth-led project rooted in Riley’s Way values – kindness, empathy, youth leadership and inclusive community – that tackles a social impact issue.
The C4K provides winners with a year-long Leadership Development Fellowship. The three pillars of the Fellowship focus on professional development, connecting-making and project support.
Professional Development: Participants gain skills to build their efficacy as leaders through workshops and professional development opportunities. Past workshops include strategic planning; budgeting and fundraising; building a strong volunteer base; diversity, equity and inclusion; and marketing and media outreach. Professional development has included participation in panels at national conferences, speaking at Riley’s Way events, designing and delivering topic-based workshops, and mentoring incoming Fellows.
Fellows come together in monthly virtual networking and skill-building sessions and one in-person Leadership Retreat.
Inclusive Community: Participants learn how to articulate their stories, strengthen their networking skills, and gain lifelong friendships. Fellows also become part of a national network of like minded youth, adults and experts, who provide support and guidance as they move forward in their careers.
Project Support: Riley’s Way provides winners with up to $5,000 in financial support, 1:1 project support, coaching, and problem-solving. Staff members are available for bi-weekly conversations, along with our network of issue-based experts and previous Fellows. This year, Riley’s Way will pair each project with a mentor, who is a leader in the nonprofit industry, Riley’s Way staff, board member or past Fellow.
In addition to the 25 Call for Kindness project winners, there will be 10 awards focused on Education Equity, 3 awards focused on building A Kinder World for Animals, 1 award in Interfaith Connections and 1 award in Dance and the Arts.
“Education equity is not only about breaking down systemic barriers and accommodating various circumstances,” explained C4K alumni, Everest Maya-Tudor, “it’s also about creating an environment where learning is seen as a fundamental right rather than a privilege.” (more info below)
The Yuriko Kikuchi Arigato Award (“Arigato” means “thank you” in Japanese), supports projects in dance and the performing arts in honor of Yuriko, the pioneering dancer, choreographer, and keeper of Martha Graham’s flame. This year, we are introducing two new awards, The Interfaith Connections Award and the A Kinder World for Animals Award. The purpose of the Interfaith Connections Award is to foster education, connection making, and acts of kindness across different religious or cultural communities. The A Kinder World for Animals Award is for projects that address the well-being of animals and the important role that they play in human lives. (more info below)
Every year, the Riley’s Way youth community selects a topic for the Call For Kindness Special Category, focusing on an issue that requires heightened attention. Previous special categories have addressed concerns such as food insecurity, mental health, and environmental justice. The Special Category for the 2024 Call For Kindness is Education Equity, reflecting the clear commitment of the Riley’s Way youth community to prioritize supporting fair and inclusive access to high-quality education, irrespective of one’s background.
Projects falling under this category have the flexibility to address a wide range of issues, from addressing societal challenges related to racial and economic disparities in college access and STEM programs to tackling local issues concerning inclusive and affirming learning content, such as books.
Recognizing the varying educational experiences of students across the United States, Riley’s Way aims to endorse projects within this special category that actively promote kindness, empathy, and the creation of inclusive communities. The overarching goal is to contribute to more equitable access to high-quality education, transcending barriers related to socioeconomic status, racial or gender identity, or other social factors.
Abigail Fixel, 2024 Call For Kindness fellow, articulates the essence of educational equity, stating, “Educational equity is where every student receives the resources necessary to learn to their highest potential regardless of their geographic location, socioeconomic status, sex, gender, religion, age, learning difference, or any other factor that may make them different from one or all of their peers.”
A Kinder World for Animals Award
The A Kinder World for Animals Award will support projects that embody Riley’s Way’s values while addressing (1) the well-being of the animals that share human homes, communities and/or the planet; or (2) the role and importance that animals play in human lives and well-being. Eligible projects may focus on companion animals, domestic farm animals, captive or free-roaming wildlife, and/or support for pet owners in crisis.
This category was sponsored by A Kinder World Foundation.
Interfaith Connections Award
Introduced in 2024, the Interfaith Connections Award supports projects dedicated to fostering education, facilitating connections, and promoting acts of kindness across diverse religious or cultural communities. The funded projects may range from national youth-led initiatives that encourage mutual respect for religious identities to local, hands-on conversations that bring individuals from different faiths or cultures together.
Guided by the principles of connection and shared humanity, interfaith activities contribute to the development of more inclusive and empathic individuals, nurturing stronger interpersonal relationships and fostering a sense of unity among different communities. Ian Sandler, co-founder of Riley’s Way and Board Chair, emphasizes the significance of the award by stating, “This award allows students to utilize kind leadership and connection-making to create bridges among different faiths, aiming for a better understanding and knowledge of one another in hopes of repairing a broken world — in the essence of tikkun olam.”
“We live in an age characterized both by an unprecedented exchange of ideas and a universal fear of the unknown. We can accomplish so much by building bridges of discourse, understanding, common ground, and mutual respect. That is what Riley’s Way is all about,” Joel Sandler explains to provide context on the timeliness of this award.
The Interfaith Connections award is in honor of Julian Sandler, the late-grandfather of Riley Hannah Sandler. This Award is very much in the spirit of Julian’s life and work as a bridge builder and connector. “My dad grew up with a strong religious background and was a connector who, like Riley, loved to bring people together from different backgrounds,” explained Ian. “He was an amazing human being and taught us to be philanthropic from an early age. Believing in learning from everyone, he was a true friend, always there in times of need.” Julian Sandler was active in the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa and came to this country to get a Ph.D. in nuclear physics with little in his pocket. He built a remarkable life in the United States during his short 64 years and was a true kind leader.
Yuriko Kikuchi Arigato Award
Riley’s Way supports one award each year in a special dance and performing arts category, the Yuriko Kikuchi Arigato Award (“Arigato” means “thank you” in Japanese), in honor of Yuriko, the pioneering dancer, choreographer, and keeper of Martha Graham’s flame. Yuriko was the grandmother of Riley’s Way’s Director of Operations, Laura (Kikuchi) Dunn, who expressed her immense appreciation for the opportunity to celebrate her grandmother’s legacy and love and passion for dancing with this new recognition, aptly named the Yuriko Kikuchi Arigato Award (“Arigato” means “thank you” in Japanese).
Born in San Jose, California in 1920, Yuriko lived through a world war, two pandemics, and worked her way up from a seamstress to become one of Martha Graham’s most renowned dancers and choreographers. She remained with the Graham Company for more than 50 years and founded a student company, the Martha Graham Ensemble, in 1983. A trailblazer and multitasker, Yuriko accomplished countless feats, including being honored by the Martha Hill Dance Fund with a Lifetime Achievement Award, choreographing and designing costumes for numerous routines, and both performing in and directing The King and I in London, Japan, and on Broadway in New York City. Yuriko passed away in March of 2022 at the age of 102.
The Yuriko Kikuchi Arigato Award supports one Call For Kindness award in a special dance and performing arts category. The project must be youth-led and inspired by kindness, drive change in your community, and build connections, and be centered around dance or the performing arts. Past awards have included Supporting Elders and Connecting Generations through Ballet from Metairie, LA and Wired 4 Dance from Irvine, CA.
Your Call For Kindness (C4K) Project
Submit a new or existing youth-led (13-23 project) that inspires kindness, strengthens your community and brings people together. You can work individually or together on your project that tackles a local, national or global social impact issue.
Your project can fall under one of the following categories:
General Application: This category is for projects focused on any issue area besides the special topic. Up to 25 projects will be awarded in the General Category.
Educational Equity: This category is for projects focused on educational equity, including societal challenges related to racial and economic disparities in college access, STEM programs to tackle lack of access in underrepresented communities, etc. 10 projects will be awarded.
A Kinder World for Animals Award: This category is for projects that address the well-being of animals and the important role that they play in human lives. Three projects will be awarded.
Yuriko Kikuchi Arigato Award: This category is for projects that have a focus in the dance/arts field. One project will be awarded.
Interfaith Connections Award: This category is for projects that foster education, connection making, and acts of kindness across different religious or cultural communities. One project will be awarded.
Click the “2023 C4K Fellows” for inspiration from the 2023 projects.
The Fellowship & Grant
Riley’s Way will award up to 40 youth-led projects in 2024. Twenty-five start-up grants of up to $5,000 and 15-grants of up to $3,000 will be awarded. The grant will be disbursed in two portions: half at the beginning of the Fellowship in May 2024 and the second half in November 2024, which is contingent upon the expectations outlined below.
C4K Fellows will also participate in a dynamic Leadership Development Fellowship that will help you grow your project, network, leadership skills, and peer-community. A full description is provided in the “About the C4K” section.
For legal and tax purposes, we cannot provide the grant money directly to individuals. We hope that you are able to partner with a registered 501(c)(3) organization, which could be your school or a nonprofit organization, as your fiscal sponsor. The grant money will be awarded directly to your partner organization, who will administer the funds to you. If you do not have a partner organization, Riley’s Way will work with you to secure a partner through the Fellowship process. If your project is already a registered 501(c)(3), you are exempt from requiring a project partner.
The C4K program is a lifelong community of changemakers that learns from, helps and inspires each other. You’ll learn from experts, peers and mentors, and will have access to opportunities like networking events and speaking at workshops or on panels. We understand you have other obligations with school and activities, so the expectation is one representative from your project attends at least 80% of the below meetings.
Attend a monthly 60-minute virtual meeting, scheduled to occur on the second Thursday of each month, starting on May 11, 2024 (subject to change).
At least one project representative attends the in-person Leadership Retreat during a weekend in February 2025. Transportation and lodging are provided by Riley’s Way.
Attend quarterly meetings with Riley’s Way staff and/or your assigned mentor.
Submit two grant reports (brief updates) to Riley’s Way throughout the Fellowship.
Have fun! You will build lifelong friendships and career networks with your cohort, our extensive alumni group, staff and expert volunteers.
Step 2: Our judges, made up of past Fellows, alumni, and other kind leaders, will review the applications. Projects will be judged on how they embody Riley’s Way values and their feasibility, need, and impact.
Step 3: During the week of April 16 – 25, 2024, we will be conducting brief interviews with the finalists to get to know them and talk more about the program.
Step 4: We will announce the winners on May 6, 2024, in honor of Riley Sandler’s birthday.
Are you part of an organization or company that cares about young leaders? Add your voice to the growing number of organizations championing kindness as an essential leadership quality by supporting our Call For Kindness. Join us as we connect changemakers across the country who are working to make our world a better place.
Commit to at least one social media post, tagging us at Riley’s Way (IG: @rileyswayfoundation; FB: @RileysWayFoundation; Twitter: @RileysWayFdn), and use the #CallForKindness hashtag. We will provide sample posts! Here are a few examples of posts that will help the cause:
We’re proud to support the next generation of kind leaders through the #CallForKindness. Will you help us spread the word?
Do you know a teen who wants to change the world? Tell them to submit their project idea to the #CallForKindness for the chance to win $5,000!
Include a brief description of the Call for Kindness (suggested language included upon sign-up) and a mention of the Call for Kindness hashtag #CallForKindness in your next newsletter and/or upcoming communications.
Send us your logo and a quote about how your community is making a difference through acts of kindness and empathy. We would love to spotlight you throughout our campaign.
We are honored list as a partner on our website and in communications to members of our community. Thank you for joining us in the next generation of changemakers leading with kindness, empathy and inclusivity!
If you have any questions or want to learn more about partnering with Riley’s Way, please get in touch with Lauren Shenkman, Director of Partnerships & Programs.
Willkie Farr & Gallagher
The Sandler Family
TLC Starfish Foundation
A Kinder World Foundation
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