Press Releases

KPMG Invests in Youth with and without Intellectual Disabilities at Special Olympics Inclusive Youth Leadership Summit

Chicago, Illinois, September 23, 2019 – Over the past four days youth leaders with and without intellectual disabilities from 12 states and Canada came together for the Special Olympics Inclusive Youth Leadership Summit. With the support of KPMG, students participated in networking sessions, leadership development trainings and experiential opportunities that furthered their understanding of what it means not only to be a leader but an inclusive leader. Inclusive youth leadership occurs when students with and without intellectual disabilities work together to lead and plan advocacy, awareness, and other inclusive activities throughout the school year.

Throughout the weekend, each Unified pair, which included a student with and a student without an intellectual disability, was matched up with a senior-level KPMG employee, providing both the students and the KPMG professionals an opportunity to learn from one another.

Employee from KPMG engaging in conversation with youth leaders from Special Olympics Canada
Members of KPMG and Special Olympics talk at the Inclusive Youth Leadership Summit

“KPMG is proud to sponsor and support the Special Olympics Inclusive Youth Leadership Summit,” shared Audit Partner Dana Foote, who serves as the Co-Chair of the KPMG Abilities in Motion Advisory Board. “Programs like this help us celebrate and empower the next generation of future leaders. Inclusion is about all of us, and together, we can create a culture that strives for equity and embraces, respects and values differences for all people.”

Foote kicked off the summit describing how inclusion is an important value that all leaders need to understand and embrace in order to be successful in and out of the workplace. From here, fellow youth leaders led students in a workshop around, “Meaningful Inclusion,” a theme that would be referred to throughout the summit.

The following day was full of skill development for our youth leaders including sessions around public speaking, storytelling and leadership training. This included a session lead by KPMG professionals around design thinking and project management.

Two participants sitting at a table looking at workbooks
Participants of the Inclusive Youth Leadership Summit working together

To culminate the experience, each Unified pair pitched a project on how they will make their school or community a more inclusive place to a panel of KPMG senior leadership. Projects ranged from youth leaders wanting to increase the amount of Unified Sports teams in their schools to advocating for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities throughout their entire school district.

Students sitting at tables looking at a presentation
Throughout the Inclusive Youth Leadership Summit, young people with and without intellectual disabilities took part in skill development sessions

Andrea Cahn, Vice President of Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools had this to say about the weekend’s events, “Every day in Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools across the country, we see students creating positive climates through inclusive sport and leadership opportunities. But it is not every day that we are able to have youth leaders with and without intellectual disabilities from across the country gather together to share with us and each other their visions of a more inclusive world. We are grateful to KPMG for recognizing the value and power of these young peoples’ voices, and the Office of Special Education Programs at the U.S. Department of Education for their foundational support. Both of these organizations have shown how much they value this network of game changers by supporting this IYL Summit for our youth leaders to take their leadership to the next level. “

Thanks to KPMG, each Unified pair received financial support in the amount of $500 to help make their visions come to life. This articulated not only their commitment to these youth pairs but to inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in school and the workplace.


KPMG is one of the world's leading professional services firms, providing innovative business solutions and audit, tax, and advisory services to many of the world's largest and most prestigious organizations.

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About Special Olympics International

Special Olympics is a global movement that unleashes the human spirit through the transformative power and joy of sports , every day around the world. Special Olympics empowers people with intellectual disabilities to become accepted and valued members of their communities, which leads to a more respectful and inclusive society for all. Using sports as the catalyst and programming around health and education, Special Olympics is fighting inactivity, injustice and intolerance. Founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy Shriver , the Special Olympics movement has grown to more than five million athletes and Unified partners in more than 190 countries . With the support of more than one million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers 32 Olympic-type sports and more than 108,000 games and competitions throughout the year. Special Olympics is supported by individuals, foundations and partners around the country and the world. Click here for a full list of partners . Engage with us on: Twitter , Facebook , YouTube , Instagram and our blog on Medium .