Riley’s Way Councils convene New York City-based public and private high schools who work to make a meaningful difference through social impact projects and grow together in community as friends and kind leaders.

What We Do

Through the lens of empathy, kindness, and inclusivity, young leaders create social justice projects based on issues significant to them. By partnering with community-based organizations to design and implement a service or activism project, Council members drive positive change in their schools and communities. Councils have tackled and led projects focused on food insecurity, period poverty, education inequality, mental health, environmental justice, and reproductive rights.

How We Do It:

Through Riley’s Way Councils, teens practice leading with kindness and building bridges across barriers in their communities. A single Council comprises about twenty students from two partnered schools – one public and one private – who meet regularly in-person and virtually, to learn, grow, and work together as community changemakers. A Riley’s Way team member and a faculty member from each school support the Council.

Through Riley’s Way Councils, changemakers:

‣ Build connections across and within their schools and meet other like-minded leaders they may not have met otherwise. Riley’s Way Councils provide students with opportunities to build relationships, challenge assumptions, and gain a deeper understanding of different identities and experiences.

‣ Build and practice leadership skills that emphasize kindness, empathy, and inclusive community.

‣ Learn about and make a difference in their communities.


“The Council helped me grow as a leader by showing me that leadership means collaborating with others and putting in the work to accomplish your goal. This year, the Council helped me grow as a friend, a leader, and a person.”
-Lexi, Nightingale

“I’m grateful for Riley’s Way because it’s taught me the importance of building strong connections with others within our community, especially when we share the same interests. One thing that makes me proud of being a part of Riley’s Way is the way we treat each other and other people. To me, kindness is one of the most important factors of our community.”
-Faliana, TYWLS Bronx

“Riley’s Way is a community for students who are motivated by the idea of a kinder, more inclusive future. It is a place for peer-to-peer education, connection making, inspiration, and discovery.”
-Allison Gaia, TYWLS Astoria Faculty Advisor

Current Councils

• The Young Women’s Leadership School in East Harlem + The Nightingale-Bamford School

• The Young Women’s Leadership School of the Bronx + The Horace Mann School

• The Young Women’s Leadership School in Astoria + The Hewitt School

Riley's Way Chapters

Riley’s Way Chapters bring together a group of young changemakers within one high school, college or community group, creating opportunities for them to practice and model leading with empathy and kindness, and make a difference on a social justice issue that matters to them. This is a student-led model with school faculty and Riley’s Way staff support, and opportunities to connect with a community of other chapter leaders. By building a hands-on service or advocacy-based project with a community-based organization, Chapter members practice leading with empathy, build meaningful connections, create inclusive communities, and thrive as effective leaders.

Click here to learn more

Interested in starting a Riley’s Way Chapter at your high school or college campus? Email Lauren Shenkman at for more information.

Learn about the Chapters’ work: Reflections on the first Riley’s Way Chapter!