National Call for Kindness Prize

Riley's Way Foundation just announced its 2023Call For Kindness winners: 40 outstanding young people (ages 13-22) from across the country whose innovative ideas have granted them entrance into a dynamic leadership fellowship - and up to $3,000 each for their commitment to leading with kindness, empathy, and inclusivity.

"The Call for Kindness inspires and draws in exceptionally gifted young leaders who are driven by a deep passion to make the world a better place," expressed Ian Sandler, Co-Founder and Board Chair of Riley's Way. "These remarkable young leaders hold the key to tackling the world's most pressing issues, and by investing in them, we can help them turn their ideas into reality. Whether they are just beginning to explore or have advanced plans, we strive to support and encourage them to imagine a better future and work tirelessly toward it."

The Call For Kindness projects create a clear blueprint for uplifting communities and bringing hope for a better future. Forty winning social impact projects were chosen from hundreds of applications and came from 20 states. In addition to the general category, this year, Riley's Way selected 10 inspiring projects focusing on environmental justice as young people noted this critical issue.

"The 2023 Call For Kindness winners reflect critical issues top of mind for young people today," shared Dr. Christine O'Connell, Executive Director of Riley's Way. "They answered the call to make a difference, adding to a national movement for kindness."

Along with environmental justice, top themes among the 2023 C4K projects include addressing food insecurity, healthcare advocacy, volunteerism, entrepreneurial skill-building, STEAM, and meeting others' basic needs. A few examples:

Connor's Kindness Project provides specially curated "Kindness Kits" that are delivered to children in hospitals and shelters. And with Princess for a Day, girls in foster care participate in paint parties and other interactive events and activities to ensure they feel special, seen, and loved.

"To me, earning the Call For Kindness means a chance to make an impact," shared 2023 C4K Winner Leigh Foran (IDEA). "This is a chance for me to learn to be a better version of myself while simultaneously making an impact on the world around me."

In addition to the 2023 Call For Kindness winners, Riley's Way Foundation awarded eighteen continuation grants for previous winners to continue their social impact work.

"As someone who is passionate about using community impact and power to make change, Riley's Way truly supports that," shared Gillian Johnson, 2023 Continuation Grant Winner and Founder of Recovery Meet-Ups.

Walking Lightly on Earth Day

Softstar Shoes is proud to announce its recent certification as a B Corporation, a stamp of approval for the company's practices of environmental and social responsibility. Softstar is an iconic shoe brand that has been designing and handcrafting minimal leather footwear since 1985, and the B Corp certification confirms the company's ongoing commitment to walking lightly on the earth.

Softstar was founded four decades ago by Tim Oliver, who built his original shoe-making workshop out of a broken-down school bus to make healthy footwear for his young daughters. Tim, an unapologetic hippie, lived frugally, utilized resources sparingly, and established a community dedicated to preserving nature and promoting long-term sustainability. Softstar has grown into a 12,000 square foot workshop in rural Oregon, continuing to thrive even after 37 years.

The company's delightful shoes are renowned globally for their high-quality construction that allows ample room for feet to move and function like they're barefoot, all while being protected. Softstar not only strives to assist its customers in developing strong foundations and healthy feet but also prides itself on surpassing the norm and making a positive impact. Their business model is designed to support their employees, the environment, and the local community.

After taking over the company from Oliver in 2005, Tricia Salcido modernized while respecting the company's original purpose. Despite Oliver's monumentally high standards, Salcido remained resolute carrying forward a sustainability ethos as cornerstone of the company's mission, along with making the workshop a positive place to thrive.

"We spend 35% or more of our waking hours in our job, and we should strive to make that work enjoyable, purposeful, and impactful. One of our core values is making Softstar a joyful place to work – and all the good we do together flows from that central, cultural force." - Softstar CEO Tricia Salcido

Beyond its commitment to providing high-quality, custom-colored footwear, the company's business model embraces the environment and local community while employees enjoy wellness benefits, team activities, and ongoing training opportunities. Softstar's sustainable culture includes an energy-efficient, family-friendly workshop that is wind and solar-powered as well as a beautiful employee garden. The company donates 100% of revenue from scrap-made pet toys to charity and has been one of Oregon's 100 greenest companies for eight years in a row.

The B Corp certification is a third-party validation of a company's claims of meeting high standards of environmental and social stewardship. To achieve certification, a company must pass a rigorous assessment and score well, go through several levels of audits, and change its corporate structure to be a benefit corporation. This process takes over a year to accomplish, and companies that display the "B Corp" logo are trusted to not be greenwashing their products and services.

Softstar joins the esteemed footwear ranks of AllBirds, Toms, and Vivo Barefoot in being B-Corporation certified. CEO Tricia Salcido hopes that Softstar's certification will inspire other companies to become B Corps and pursue sustainability wholeheartedly. Softstar is a certified B Corp that has been designing and handcrafting minimal leather footwear in the USA since 1985.

MacKenzie Scott Help Village Enterprise End Extreme Poverty in Africa

As Women's History Month comes to a close, Village Enterprise is thrilled to announce a gift of $7 million from MacKenzie Scott that will have a transformative impact on the lives of the most vulnerable women living in extreme poverty in rural Africa and their families.

As the largest single unrestricted donation in Village Enterprise's history, the gift will be a cornerstone of Village Enterprise's work to equip three million first-time entrepreneurs in Africa with skills and resources to launch sustainable businesses, ending extreme poverty and building climate resilience for 20 million women, children, and men by 2030.

"It's only fitting that Ms. Scott's generous gift comes during Women's History Month, as it will be life-changing for women living in extreme poverty in Africa and their families," said Dianne Calvi, Village Enterprise Chief Executive Officer. "When women have opportunities to launch climate-smart businesses, they not only lift themselves and their families out of poverty—they are also equipped to adapt to the threats of climate change. As East Africa is going through its worst drought in four decades, this is crucial to ensuring long-term prosperity for the most vulnerable households."

Through collective action with governments, multi- and bi-lateral agencies, funders, other nonprofits, and private sector companies, Village Enterprise is currently scaling their cost-effective poverty graduation model to end extreme poverty and drive climate resilience in Africa. With funding from Cartier Philanthropy, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the Delta Fund, the Government of Kenya, IKEA Foundation, The Starbucks Foundation, UN Women, Whole Planet Foundation, among others, Village Enterprise has already trained more than 264,000 entrepreneurs in Africa, transforming the lives of more than 1,565,000 people living in extreme poverty.

"Over the past seven years, I have been impressed by Village Enterprise's proven and cost-effective intervention to work with the most vulnerable to provide them with the tools to live a better life," said Pascale de la Frégonnière, Strategic Advisor to the Board at Cartier Philanthropy. "They are constantly innovating and improving on their model to increase their impact especially among women and are not afraid of taking on very ambitious challenges, such as successfully putting together and implementing the first development impact bond for poverty alleviation in sub-Saharan Africa. Cartier Philanthropy is excited to continue to invest in Village Enterprise's life-changing program."

Village Enterprise's impact is driven by their passionate, talented African team. Studied by two rigorous, independent randomized controlled trials, which were conducted by Innovations for Poverty Action and IDinsight, the Village Enterprise model is proven to cost-effectively increase consumption, assets, income, savings, net wealth, nutrition, and food security for participants living in extreme poverty. It has also been shown to increase the mental health, well-being, and sense of economic standing of women in the program.

Village Enterprise's award-winning poverty graduation model is at the center of collective action initiatives taking on the most pressing issues in Africa. Through partnerships with small locally-led organizations, as well as large international nonprofits such as African Wildlife Foundation, Catholic Relief Services, Mercy Corps, and Wildlife Conservation Society, Village Enterprise's approach is reducing deforestation and poaching, combating food insecurity and acute child malnutrition, and supporting refugees and displaced populations fleeing conflict.

"Mercy Corps is proud to partner with Village Enterprise to alleviate poverty in rural Africa," said Tjada D'Oyen McKenna, Chief Executive Officer of Mercy Corps. "Their team is passionate about ending extreme poverty and focused on transformative impact. By combining our evidence-based approaches and working together in refugee camps—one of the world's most challenging contexts—we are building the foundation to transform the way the humanitarian sector approaches refugee assistance."

Village Enterprise's work has been recognized at the highest level by Candid, Charity Navigator, the Drucker Institute, Great Nonprofits, Founders Pledge, Million Lives Collective, and The Life You Can Save. Their DREAMS for Refugees initiative with Mercy Corps was a winner of the Larsen Lam ICONIQ Impact Award in 2021.

"Ms. Scott's gift is a powerful testament to our work and to the fact that we can't end extreme poverty alone," said Dianne Calvi. "We're looking for more governments, agencies, companies, and individuals to join us in taking collective action to end extreme poverty. After all, we go further together."

Village Enterprise's mission is to end extreme poverty in rural Africa through entrepreneurship, innovation, and collective action. We work with vulnerable women, refugees, and youth who are most impacted by climate change, conflict, and displacement, and equip them with skills and resources to launch climate-smart businesses, build savings, and put themselves and their families onto a sustainable path out of extreme poverty. Village Enterprise has started over 74,000 businesses, trained over 264,000 first-time entrepreneurs, and positively transformed the lives of over 1,565,000 people in Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Congo-Brazzaville, Mozambique, and Tanzania.

Qatar and Indonesia to Join Creative Exchange in 2023

Qatar Museums (QM) today announced the program for the Qatar-Indonesia 2023 Year of Culture, which will feature a host of performances, exhibitions, sporting and culinary events, photography projects, residency and volunteer programs, and more. Inaugurated in 2012 by QM Chairperson Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Years of Culture initiative is an annual bilateral exchange that deepens the understanding between Qatar and another nation and its people through a year of cultural programming.

In a special focus this year based on Qatar's experience in developing its creative and cultural economy, the Qatar-Indonesia 2023 Year of Culture will include an emphasis on projects that will enhance the creative and cultural industries in both countries with a focus on sustainable, long-term partnerships. In Qatar, Qatar Museums has been at the center of building the country's cultural infrastructure, opening new possibilities for the nation's people and economy by nurturing the creative and cultural industries, which make up an ever-larger portion of the global GDP. This sector represents an especially strategic investment for emerging economies such as that of Indonesia, where the creative and cultural economy already accounts for 7% of the country's GDP and is expected to grow, according to the Indonesian Agency for the Creative Economy.

Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani said, "This year for Qatar Years of Culture we turn our eyes east toward Indonesia, a vast nation whose vivid, multilayered culture has been born of many centuries of global crosscurrents. There is much that our two nations can recognize in one another, including our role in the Muslim world, and much that we share. We look forward to an exciting year of cultural exchanges, in which we both continue to develop our burgeoning creative and cultural industries."

His Excellency Indonesian Ambassador to Qatar Ridwan Hassan said, "Indonesia and Qatar have enjoyed excellent relations based on common faith and mutual interests. Today, our world needs such multilateral cooperation more than ever and it begins with empowering our people to interact, learn and celebrate each other. This is why Years of Culture programs are crucial to strengthening ties between nations. Indonesia welcomes the opportunity to celebrate our robust partnership with Qatar through the Qatar-Indonesia 2023 Year of Culture."

Aisha Ghanem Al Attiya, Director of Cultural Diplomacy for Qatar Museums, said, "The Indonesian national motto of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, Unity in Diversity, perfectly expresses the spirit of the Qatar-Indonesia 2023 Year of Culture. Through our many programs, to be held in both nations, we will weave together a tapestry of relationships that are as varied as they are strong and resilient."

New Southeast Asia Galleries Open at MIA as Part of Official Qatar-Indonesia 2023 Opening

The year officially kicked off with a reception at the Museum of Islamic Art, which houses a spectacular collection of Indonesian artefacts in new galleries dedicated to Southeast Asia (17 and 18). The galleries will open to the public today (March 12).

The galleries remind visitors that the region today is home to the largest Muslim community worldwide, highlighting the connection between different cultures through exhibits on the trade of commodities and the exchange of ideas across the Islamic World and beyond. Displays feature beautiful Indonesian gold jewelry and textiles.

MIA Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs Shaika Nasser Al-Nassr explained that: "At MIA, we tell the story of the spread of Islam around the world and its influence on art and culture. The new MIA makes that story complete with the addition of galleries on the Indian Ocean region and Southeast Asia."

Showcasing Shared Passions and Traditions

Ramadan will offer an opportunity to embark on special culinary journeys in both countries. Indonesian chefs will infuse traditional ingredients into menus of several restaurants in Qatar during Ramadan, while special culinary demonstrations will take place at the Qatar International Food Festival. At the same time, Qatari cuisine and traditional celebrations like Garangao will make their way to Indonesia. Collaboration around the shared passion for food will continue over the summer when two Qatari and Indonesian chefs travel across Indonesia on a culinary journey.

The Years of Culture has also partnered with Reach Out to Asia (ROTA) to organize a volunteer trip for a group of young people from Qatar to work with school children in Indonesia.

A special theatrical presentation of HAYATI (Tree of Life): Searching for The Essence of Love, organized and presented by Indonesia's Ministry of Education, Culture, Research and Technology. Created especially for this Year of Culture will be presenting in Qatar this year. The production will be a visually stunning exploration of the ties between personal identity and cultural traditions.

In Indonesia, participants from both nations will join in a cycling tour to the world's largest Buddhist temple in Borobudur, located in Central Java. The tour will culminate with a festive dinner and the presentation of a traditional Qatari performance, highlighting the shared passion of the two cultures for sport, cuisine, and the performing arts.

The longest-running exchange program of the Qatar Years of Culture program, the Photography Journey, will be organized this year with the support of the Jakarta International Photography Festival (JIPFEST). A pair of Qatari and Indonesian photographers will capture images of traditional practices, documenting and preserving intangible cultural heritage in both countries. An exhibition of photographs by the participants will be presented in Qatar and Indonesia later in the year.

In the fall of 2023, the Years of Culture team is set to organize a cultural extravaganza in Qatar celebrating shared traditions of craftsmanship and hospitality. Major events will celebrate vibrant cultural traditions in both Qatar and Indonesia during the Workshop Month (September), a special exhibition celebrating the two nations' shared appreciation for the rituals of hospitality and coffee-making at the National Museum of Qatar (October), participation in the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival (October) and the return of the annual Cultural Festival at Flag Plaza celebrating Indonesia as this year's partner (November), as well as film screenings in both countries.

Amplifying the Emerging Artistic Voices of Qatar and Indonesia

The year's special emphasis of fostering the creative and cultural industries will be carried out through three-month-long residency programs, pairing Qatari and Indonesian designers to encourage direct engagement between emerging talent from both countries. These collaborative residencies will provide opportunities for Qatari product and fashion designers to discover traditional Indonesian craftsmanship from local masters in jewelry design and metalworking and embroidery. Mentors and locations were carefully selected from regions of Indonesia best known for these specific areas of expertise: Tasikmalaya (embroidery) and Sumba (metal ornamentation).

Each residency will challenge participants to consider issues of waste management and sustainability in their choice of materials and designs.

Final products will be introduced at prestigious festivals celebrating Indonesian culture and design, including the Indonesian Contemporary Art and Design (ICAD) festival in October-November 2023, Jakarta Fashion Week in October 2023, as well as a monumental year-end exhibition at the National Gallery in Indonesia.

Artworks by some of Qatar's brightest emerging contemporary artists will travel to Indonesia as part of the ARTJOG 2023 festival, which asks participating artists to reveal the intent and motivation behind their work through various interactions, discussions, and silahturahmi (a concept based on Islamic practices about keeping or mending ties between family or kin adopted by Muslin communities in Indonesia) with artists.

Additional community events and celebrations will be announced throughout the year on Years of Culture social media pages and website at

About Years of Culture

Culture is one of the most effective tools to bring people closer together, encourage dialogue, and deepen understanding between nations.

Under the leadership of its Chairperson Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Qatar Museums (QM) developed the annual "Years of Culture" initiative — an international cultural exchange that deepens understanding between nations and their people. Though formal programming lasts only one year, the ties of friendship that are strengthened and formed are long-lasting.

Qatar-Indonesia 2023 Year of Culture has been developed in collaboration with leading organizations in Qatar, including Doha Film Institute, Education Above All, Katara Cultural Village, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Qatar Charity, Qatar Cycling Federation, Qatar Foundation, Qatar Museums, Qatar National Library, Qatar Tourism, with assistance from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Research and Technology of the Republic of Indonesia, Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in Qatar and the Embassy of the State of Qatar in Indonesia.

Previous Years of Culture have included: Qatar-Japan 2012, Qatar-UK 2013, Qatar-Brazil 2014, Qatar-Türkiye 2015, Qatar-China 2016, Qatar-Germany 2017, Qatar-Russia 2018, Qatar-India 2019, Qatar-France 2020, and Qatar-USA 2021. In celebration of its 10th anniversary, the 2022 Year of Culture celebrated the entire Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (MENASA) region as Qatar welcomed the world for the Arab region's first FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™.

Past sponsors include Qatar Airways, Vodafone, Qatar Gas, Shell, Ooredoo, Shangri-La Hotel and Resorts, Lulu Group International, Qatar Financial Centre, Qatar Petroleum, and ExxonMobil.

About Qatar Museums

Qatar Museums (QM), the nation's preeminent institution for art and culture, provides authentic and inspiring cultural experiences through a growing network of museums, heritage sites, festivals, public art installations, and programs. QM preserves, restores, and expands the nation's cultural offerings and historical sites, sharing art and culture from Qatar, the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia (MENASA) region with the world and enriching the lives of citizens, residents, and visitors.

Under the patronage of His Highness the Amir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, and led by its Chairperson, Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, QM has made Qatar a vibrant centre for the arts, culture, and education in the Middle East and beyond. QM is integral to the goal of developing an innovative, diverse, and progressive nation, bringing people together to ignite new thinking, spark critical cultural conversations, educate and encourage environmental stewardship and sustainable practices, and amplify the voices of Qatar's people. Since its founding in 2005, QM has overseen the Museum of Islamic Art and MIA Park, Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, the National Museum of Qatar, QM Gallery Al Riwaq, QM Gallery Katara, and 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum. Museums under development include Dadu, Children's Museum of Qatar; Qatar Auto Museum; Art Mill Museum, and the Lusail Museum.

Through its newly created Creative Hub, QM also initiates and supports projects—such as the Fire Station Artist in Residence, the Tasweer Qatar Photo Festival and the creative hub for innovation, fashion and design M7— that nurture artistic talent and create opportunities to build a strong and sustainable cultural infrastructure.

Animating everything that Qatar Museums does is an authentic connection to Qatar and its heritage, a steadfast commitment to inclusivity and accessibility, and a belief in creating value through invention.