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Special Olympics Youth Innovation Grant Initiative Announced

Funding aims to advance broad range of inclusion projects and Special Olympics Unified Schools

WASHINGTON, DC – September 18, 2018: More than 100 youth leaders with and without intellectual disabilities are the inaugural recipients of the Special Olympics Youth Innovation grants. As a result of the grants, 80 youth-led projects for inclusion are being implemented in 40 countries spanning all seven Regions of the global Special Olympics movement (Africa, Asia Pacific, East Asia, Europe Eurasia, Latin America, Middle East North Africa, North America). Click here to learn about the projects being led around the world.

“Through our Youth Innovation Grants initiative, we are investing in the next generation of change makers and their outstanding ideas—the generation who is leading the inclusion revolution,” said Dr. Tim Shriver, Chairman of Special Olympics International. “We look forward to seeing this investment help deliver an end to discrimination against people with intellectual disabilities in these many countries around the world.”

The grants of up to $2,000 are supporting an array of projects as diverse as their locales, creating change through inclusive sport and other community engagement. Some youth leaders with and without intellectual disabilities will amplify the impact of their projects with initiatives such as producing a video series on the power of inclusion or leading an inclusive coding class.

In turn, the funded projects will help to both 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 are predicted to positively affect hundreds of schools and thousands of students—all while working toward one common goal: increased inclusion.

Youth 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.

Notes to editors

Hundreds of young people from 45 nations with and without intellectual disabilities will come together to make the world more inclusive in Baku, Azerbaijan from 24 – 28 September 2018. The Special Olympics Global Youth Leadership Forum is one of the flagship events to mark the 50th Anniversary of Special Olympics. One of the key objectives of the Special Olympics movement over the next 50 years will be the promotion of its youth engagement and Unified Schools program.

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

Mark Daley
Special Olympics International
P: (202) 824-0389