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Annual Contest Awards $$ For Teen Kindness Projects
Teen kindness

In a new year and decade, Riley’s Way Foundation challenges U.S. teens, 13 to 19, to apply for grants to bring more kindness into the world.

On Monday, Jan. 20, 2020, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy of building bridges and strengthening communities, Riley’s Way Foundation launched its second annual Call for Kindness Contest. The Call for Kindness is a national contest that awards grants to teen-led projects that inspire kindness, strengthen communities, and bring people together.

The deadline for submissions is March 31, 2020. For more information, visit

Riley’s Way Foundation empowers young leaders to use kindness and empathy to create meaningful connections and drive positive change in the world. The Call for Kindness provides an opportunity for young people to dream big, and receive thousands of dollars to implement ideas to make the world better. Laura Kikuchi, Riley’s Way Program Director, says, “I have seen winners strengthen their confidence, independence, and leadership skills, and it has been an honor to support them in their growth.”

Fifteen Call for Kindness winners, announced on May 6, will receive up to $3,000 each to fund their teen-led project. They will join others from across the country in the Riley’s Way Kind Leadership Series, comprising of mentorship, professional development, and peer-learning. Some participants will also attend the Riley’s Way Youth Leadership Retreat.

“When we started Riley’s Way, we knew our programs needed to be so effective that people who never met Riley would support them,” said Ian Sandler, who co-founded the foundation with his wife Mackenzie after the loss of their 9-year-old daughter Riley in 2014. “We were overjoyed with the depth and breadth of the submissions from our first Call for Kindness. The participants have become part of the Riley’s Way community; many attended our first Youth Leadership Retreat last fall. Through these two programs, we are now able to expand our reach from our local Councils to begin to create a national Kindness Movement.”

Winners from the inaugural 2019 contest included: Purple America, a Washington state-based political discussion group connecting teens from “red” and “blue” states; Womaze, an app created in Florida promoting self-empowerment for women; and Girl RPRSNTD, an online book club in New York focused on underrepresented voices. Other initiatives include projects to build shared vegetable gardens in low-income communities in Missouri, create youth empowerment workshops and STEM after-school programs in New York, and throw birthday parties for those affected by poverty, addiction, or abuse in Illinois. “Riley’s Way and the Call for Kindness allowed us to continue our violence prevention workshop series and multiply our reach in just a few months,” said Andrea Gonzales, 19, and Luis Hernandez, 17, of Youth Over Guns in New York, which held workshops for over 200 young people this past year.

Last year, Call for Kindness winners reached over 30,000 people. The Birthday Giving Program gave out over 1,500 birthday bags, expanding chapters in Illinois, California, Tennessee and Florida; Purple America hosted 22 small groups including new chapters in Atlanta and Wyoming; Womaze grew to over 30,000 subscribers; Grow Healthy worked with 85 youth volunteers; and We Dine Together grew to 60 people and is working to provide programming to 2,500 students schoolwide.

“An idea can take shape and grow into a movement,” said Dr. Christine O’Connell, Executive Director of Riley’s Way. “Who better to lead a national Kindness movement than our youth? They have the ideas, passion and drive to make it happen.”