Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Press Releases

Special Olympics Announces Second Round of Youth Innovation Grants

Funding aims to advance the range of youth inspired inclusion projects and Special Olympics Unified Schools.

Funding aims to advance the range of youth inspired inclusion projects and Special Olympics Unified Schools

WASHINGTON, DC – December 18, 2018: 142 youth leaders with and without intellectual disabilities are the recipients of a second round of Special Olympics Youth Innovation grants, resulting in 84 Youth Innovation Projects. This diverse cohort of youth leaders represent 53 countries and span all seven Regions of the global Special Olympics movement (Africa, Asia Pacific, East Asia, Europe Eurasia, Latin America, Middle East North Africa, North America). Included in the cohort are 13 siblings of individuals with intellectual disabilities, who bring their unique perspective to our inclusion movement.

By investing in our next generation of leaders through our Youth Innovation Grants, we can help produce change makers ready to lead a revolution of inclusion. We unequivocally believe the investment in our youth leaders can lead to an end to discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities around the world.
Dr. Tim Shriver, Chairman of Special Olympics International

In September, a portion of youth leaders were able to form their vision of social inclusion through the 2018 Special Olympics Global Youth Leadership Forum in Baku, Azerbaijan. By supplying the necessary knowledge and tools, youth leaders were able to develop 40 projects and solidify the global legacy of the forum through their pioneering projects. All projects, funded up to $2,000, will aim to create change through inclusive sport and community engagement. To strengthen the impact of their projects, some youth leaders will produce video series on the power of inclusion or lead social media campaigns focusing on inclusive activities.

In turn, the funded projects will help to strengthen and grow Special Olympics Unified Schools—an education initiative that combines Special Olympics Unified Sports®, inclusive youth leadership, and whole school engagement to create school and community climates of acceptance and social inclusion. The projects will positively affect hundreds of schools and thousands of students—all while working toward one common goal: increased inclusion.

Youth leaders with and without intellectual disabilities applied for funding as individuals or as inclusive pairs (one youth with intellectual disabilities and one youth without) earlier this year. The Special Olympics Youth Innovation Grant initiative is supported through partnerships with Hasbro, Inc., The Samuel Family Foundation, the Office of Special Education Programs at the United States Department of Education, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, and the Lions Clubs International Foundation. Learn more about these inspiring projects at

About Special Olympics

Special Olympics is a global inclusion movement using sport, health, education and leadership programs every day around the world to end discrimination against and empower people with intellectual disabilities. Founded in 1968, and celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year, the Special Olympics movement has grown to more than 6 million athletes and Unified Sports partners in more than 170 countries. With the support of more than 1 million coaches and volunteers, Special Olympics delivers 32 Olympic-type sports and over 100,000 games and competitions throughout the year. Special Olympics is supported by individuals, foundations and partners, including Bank of America, the Christmas Records Trust, The Coca-Cola Company, ESPN, Essilor Vision Foundation, the Golisano Foundation, the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics, Lions Clubs International Foundation, Microsoft, Safilo Group, Stavros Niarchos Foundation, TOYOTA, United Airlines, and The Walt Disney Company. Click here for a full list of partners. Engage with us on: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and our blog on Medium. Learn more at

Media Contact

Theresa Fitzpatrick
Special Olympics
P: (202) 860-6642