Introducing A Movement For Kindness Led By Young People

We’re excited to be on Medium and thought we’d introduce ourselves:

Riley’s Way is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to empower a youth-led kindness movement that provides young people with the programs, support, and inclusive community they need to thrive as changemakers. More than ever, the world needs kind and empathetic leaders to address complex problems facing society. Empathy and kindness often are overlooked as leadership qualities, and we are changing that.

Ian and Mackenzie Sandler established Riley’s Way Foundation in 2014 in loving memory of their daughter Riley Hannah Sandler. Out of their immense love for Riley, the Sandlers decided to help build a movement for kindness led by young people. By supporting and connecting young changemakers around the country, we believe Riley’s Way youth leaders are infusing much-needed hope and meaning into these challenging times.

At Riley’s Way, we have three programs combined in one great mission to empower young leaders to use kindness and empathy to create meaningful connections and positive change: the Call For Kindness, Riley’s Way Councils, and our Youth Leadership Retreats (more info on all of these programs are included below).

We believe every young person has the capacity to be a changemaker. And, what an impact our young leaders are having! To date, over 100 Call for Kindness Fellows have reached over 150,000 people across the world. Our Councils continue to make an impact on important social justice issues. Our Youth Leadership Retreats have brought together hundreds of young people to build and foster a community and learn the skills they need to make a difference.

About The #CallForKindness

Our flagship #CallForKindness program asks young people (13–22 years old) from across the country to submit a proposal for a project that will bring more kindness into the world. Young people are invited to share a new or existing project idea, tackling topics such as pressing equity and social justice issues or building meaningful connections within the school or community. As many as 35 youth-led projects will receive awards up to $3,000 each. For our 2022 Call For Kindness, a separate category will consider 10 projects specifically focused on mental health, recognizing the growing need to highlight this critical issue only amplified by the pandemic. The deadline to apply for the 2022 Call For Kindness is fast approaching, extended to Sunday, April 3, 2022. Visit to learn more.

Riley’s Way Other Leadership Programs

Riley’s Way Councils are partnerships between public and private schools that bring together students with different perspectives and support them to become kind leaders. Council members work directly with community groups to make a difference on social justice issues through the lens of empathy and kindness.

The Youth Leadership Retreats convene inspirational young people from around the country who are kind leaders and change agents in their communities. Young people participate in skill-building workshops where they learn how to tell their stories, communicate ideas, develop action plans, build networks, and meet new friends.

For more information about Riley’s Way and to learn how you can get involved, visit

We look forward to introducing you to the inspiring young leaders at Riley’s Way in the coming weeks and months! Stay tuned for more!

Christine O’Connell, Ph.D., is an expert in the field of science communication, engagement, and building empathetic leaders and organizations. She is currently the Executive Director of Riley’s Way Foundation. Previously, she was the founding Associate Director and a professor at the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University where she helped create and build the Center and its empathy-based curriculum to international acclaim. Christine has a record of providing strategic direction to grow non-profit and academic organizations, research initiatives, and environmental and community campaigns. She received her B.S. from Cornell University and Ph.D. at Stony Brook University.



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