The Riley’s Way Call For Kindness


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.


Call For Kindness Fellows


Continuation Grant Winners


People Reached Globally

The Call For Kindness (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)

Education Equity
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.

Applications are closed for the 2024 Call For Kindness.

Email if you have any questions!

Learn more about our Kindness Fellows from previous years and their projects using the links below. Be sure to check out their pages for ongoing updates.

Previous Years Fellows

2022 Call For Kindness Fellows

2021 Call For Kindness Fellows

2020 Call For Kindness Fellows

2019 Call For Kindness Fellows

2024 Call For Kindness Continuation Recipients

Shrusti Amula (she/her) and Vayun Amnula (he/him), Can We Do Something About Food Waste?, Maryland (2023 Fellows)

Khloe Thompson (she/her), PeachTree Pad, California (2021 Fellow)

Leydi Borges (she/her) and Alex Interian (he/him), Sci+Pi4All, Florida (2023 Fellows)

Jessie Baxter (she/her) and Holly Milsom (she/her), Ta-Ta For Now, Florida (2023 Fellows)

Laasya Acharya (she/her), The Ceres Organization, Ohio (2023 Fellow)

Neal Chopra (he/him) & team, Codology, California (2023 Fellow)

Arabella Tan (she/her) & team, WikiVision, Hawaii (2023 Fellows)

Chase Hartman (he/him) and Zach Hartman (he/him), Eco Brothers, Inc., Florida (2023 Fellows)

Gaayathri Binoj (she/her), Queens On The Board, Missouri (2023 Fellow)

Benjamin Barkoff (he/him) & team, Whiskey Bravo, New York (2023 Fellow)

Agha Haider (he/him), The Education Collaborative, California (2020 Fellow)

Aarya Dhru (she/her) and Veda Swaminathan (she/her), Imagine, Innovate, Inspire (I3) Competition, Connecticut (2022 Fellows)

Jaidon Horton (he/him) & team, CryOut Curbs Cravings, Mississippi (2021 Fellow)

Austin Picinich (he/him), Save Our Salmon “SOS” Through Art, Washington (2023 Fellow)

Christopher Fuentes (he/him) and Jazlyn Fuentes, Feel Our Meals, New York (2023 Fellows)

Mark Leschinsky (he/him), Student World Impact Film Festival, New Jersey (2023 Fellow)

Kate-Yeonjae Jeong (she/her) and Matthew Jeong (he/him), Light Up Network, Texas (2023 Fellow)

Jerry Chen (he/him), Legal Studies Institute, New York (2023 Fellow)

Esha Venkat (she/her) and Shreyaa Venkat (she/her), NEST4US, Virginia (2021 Fellows)

Banks Vadeboncoeur (she/her), The Young Writers Workshop, Florida (2022 Fellow)

Isabella Hanson (she/her), I Matter, Pennsylvania (2021 Fellow)

Jonathan Tamen (he/him), Helping Hands, Florida (2020 Fellow)

Sunya Afrasiabi (she/her), #MyStory Program, New York (2022 Fellow)

Avery Kelley (she/her), Love Carries On, Georgia (2022 Fellow)

Join the annual Call For Kindness challenge!

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.

Sign the Pledge

When you pledge to be a Partner, we ask that you:

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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