To lead positive change with kindness, Riley’s Way is on a mission to inspire kindness in the next generation of change leaders with the tools needed to make a positive impact in the world.
What We Do
On January 21, 2019, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we launched our first national initiative, the Call for Kindness. We asked teens to tell us how they can create a project that drives change that inspires kindness and builds meaningful connections in their communities. Over the next three months, we received inquiries from over 100 teens from across the country, which ultimately led to 44 completed applications from 23 different states!
Our judging team, made up of teen judges, Riley's Way Board members, and nonprofit leaders, reviewed each and every application, and scored them based on how well they fit the Riley's Way values, their feasibility, and impact.
In the end, we decided to increase the number of Call for Kindness award winners from the original six to ten! We will be giving each of these teen-led projects $3,000 to implement their projects with their school or nonprofit partners. We also decided to create a new honorable mention category, and five meaningful projects will be awarded $1,000 each for their projects. Congratulations to all!
Read below to learn more about how these incredible teens are using the funds to partner with their school or a nonprofit to design and implement a project that embodies Riley’s Way values to inspire kindness and builds meaningful connections in their communities.
To lead positive change with kindness, Riley’s Way is on a mission to inspire kindness in the nextgeneration of change leaders with the tools needed to make a positive impact in the world.
This program partners with the organization Women-In-Need to provide an after-school program to children ages 5-12 focusing on science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics. Daphne will use the funds to formalize and scale the program to visit on a more frequent basis and will look to expand to partner with other shelters.
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. In order to help students engage in these discussions with a focus on empathy and understanding, the Purple America Initiative is building a curriculum for mediated discussions where students can share their own experiences and opinions while listening to perspectives different from their own, bridging the gap between “Red America” and “Blue America.” The $3000 prize will be used to support their video-communication technology and website and make their project accessible to all those who are interested.
Womaze is a free app centered around self-empowerment for women through elevating compassion, kindness, empathy, connection, and sensitivity. They currently have thousands of women in their community, over a hundred Womaze ambassadors, and a new guest curator each week who shares her top tools with the community. Hannah will use the $3,000 toward funding the Womaze App, which is currently in beta form. They will create a stronger version that is able to support millions of followers.
Luis Hernandez & Andrea Gonzales
Youth Over Guns
Youth Over Guns provides workshops for teens in underserved communities in New York City, that provide advocacy skills, youth empowerment and civic engagement. They strategically pair workshop attendees with trailblazers and gamechangers in their respective fields, based off mutual experiences. With the prize, Luis, Andrea, and friends will expand their workshops to reach more teens in New York City.
Tony’s Place partnership
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. Matthew will use the $3,000 to provide over 1,000 free meals by the end of 2019 and to buy supplies to upgrade the clothing.
Nicole Mateo & Amber Rahman
Girl RPRSNTED is a proposed 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. They want the online platform to provide accessible PDF versions of the books, livestreams and discussions with authors and book club members, a book subscription box, and reflections on the books. Nicole and Amber will use the grant money to launch their website and provide book subscription boxes to schools starting in New York and eventually the country.
Browning and Mott Haven Academy Charter School partnership
Discovery Land Co. Foundation Award Recipient
Robert seeks to create a partnership between The Browning School and Mott Haven Academy Charter School, which prioritizes admission to children involved in the child welfare system. Robert will use the prize to help Mott Haven purchase sports uniforms and equipment for all of its teams, school supplies to address everyday needs, and setting up opportunities for collaboration on different sports, art, chess and afterschool programs.
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. Currently, they have 45 organic sustainable vegetable gardens, have donated over 45,000 pounds of produce to food banks from the gardens, and recruited 852 youth including at-risk teens to help in the gardens. Sophie will use the funds to expand the project by adding eight to ten new raised vegetable gardens to low-income daycare sites.
Sonika Menon, Rinna Talwar, Rohin Menon & Anya Talwar
The Birthday Giving Program
The Birthday Giving Program was recognized as one of CNN’s Young Wonders in 2018. They are a teen-founded 501(c)(3) that provides birthday bags and celebrations to children, adults, senior citizens, and veterans affected by poverty, addiction, abuse, homelessness, violence, physical/mental challenges, old age, and loneliness. They collaborate with 25 organizations in Illinois and have 4 chapters in California, Tennessee, Florida, and Idaho. Sonika and Rinna will use the funds to expand the mission of the program to create chapters in three new states, with the goal of expansion to 10 states in the next 3 years.
Maverick Movie Night and Carnival
Valentina and her schoolmates goal is to use the connections in their school community to support a chosen family or cause or need. This is an ongoing project that brings their community together by focusing on a common goal through a completely student-led event. They will use the funds to host the event, involve more student-led clubs, and do outreach in their wider community.
SPACE 4 US
Crystal's existing project SPACE 4 US connects underprivileged middle and high school students with professional resources in San Francisco. SPACE 4 US organizes free interactive career panels, workshops and webinars for students to speak with professionals from different career fields and participate in fun job simulation activities. SPACE 4 US partners with local nonprofit organizations that serve disadvantaged youth and brings career exploration activities to these organizations. Crystal will use the funds to organize field trips to allow students to shadow professionals at different companies in the Bay Area.
Crafternoon is a new project that is designed to brighten up the lives of children in hospitals through craft kits, put together by volunteers. The “Volunteer of the Week” will make an appearance on KidsZone, a television program for the younger kids at Mt. Sinai, to explain the project. The position of Volunteer of the Week changes every cycle, allowing everyone a chance. Ellie will use the $1,000 to fund the materials needed for the craft kits, which will create up to 600 kits.
Hannah Liu & Lydia Palmer
Building Bridges is a partnership program between the Nightingale-Bamford School and the Sisulu-Walker Charter School of Harlem. It is designed to strengthen and enhance the existing relationship between the two institutions through joint community service initiatives by partnering Nightingale eighth graders with Sisulu-Walker fifth graders. They will also partner Sisulu-Walker fifth graders with Nightingale kindergarteners for a read aloud program. They plan to use the $1,000 for transportation and materials.
We Dine Together
We Dine Together is a completely student-led movement that started in Florida and is now worldwide with the goal to have no one sitting alone during lunch. At Oregon City High School, the Shaylee and the We Dine Together group have a designated room that is open every day for students to eat their lunch, play games, and meet new people. They also have meetings to share meals and hear speakers. They will use the funds to plan outings outside of the school setting to create meaningful connections.
Sophia Chen & Michaela Kim
Yes2STEM was founded to engage kids in underserved areas in STEM. They partner with nonprofits and afterschool programs to work with 60 kids to host workshops to encourage their curiosity. Sophia and Michaela will use the funds to brings the kids on field trips to museums and research facilities, implement a STEM mentorship program between high school and elementary school students, community STEM nights, and to create a website that hosts a virtual mentorship program.