History of Support
Microsoft provides both financial and in-kind support to the Special Olympics movement. In addition to sponsoring multiple Games properties and esports events, Microsoft empowers Special Olympics Programs and athletes around the world through technology. This includes technology support in the development of a movement-wide system to manage internal stakeholder data (GMS), grants for Global Youth Leadership for technology projects, in-kind donations of hardware and software, financial support, and cause marketing. In addition, Special Olympics has been featured in numerous Microsoft campaigns, including Windows #UpgradeYourWorld; “Game Changers”; “Humans of IT”; “Inclusion Takes Heart”; and several Give with Bing Campaigns.
Sponsorship of World Games and USA Games
In 2015, Microsoft provided over 2,000 hardware devices, software licenses, and financial support to the Special Olympics 2015 World Games. Additionally, Microsoft worked to raise awareness of Special Olympics through retail & social cause marketing campaigns, as well as supported the first implementation of a cloud-based Games Management System.
In 2017, Microsoft was a sponsor of the Winer World Games in Austria and once again provided the hardware devices and software licenses needed to efficiently run the Games. Microsoft also sponsored 30 Special Olympics athletes from delegations around the world through their Mission 3000 initiative and these select athletes were featured in a global marketing campaign.
In 2018, Microsoft served as the Premier Partner of the Special Olympics 2018 USA Games in Seattle, Washington and Brad Smith, Microsoft’s President and Chief Legal Officer, served as the Honorary Chair. Alongside the games, Microsoft and Xbox hosted the first in-person esports tournament.
Gaming for Inclusion
Sport is the foundation of the Special Olympics movement and the platform with which displays athlete’s abilities. Aligned with the Special Olympics’ strategic plan to drastically scale reach through technology and Microsoft’s mission to empower people through technology, we launched Gaming for Inclusion. Gaming for Inclusion is a yearly virtual esports tournament connecting people of all abilities to compete for the chance to play alongside celebrities in the Celebrity Showcase. All events have been broadcast live on the official Xbox Twitch Channel.
The 2021 and 2022 the Gaming for Inclusion tournaments have garnered hundreds of pieces of earned media coverage, over a million views, millions of social media impressions and engagements, an exclusive Minecraft EDU speed run experience, and featured 3 Special Olympics athletes as shoutcasters and hosts of the livestreamed tournaments.
Gaming for Inclusion is a powerful example of how organizations can come together to leverage their strengths and meet an urgent need. Together we are building a more accepting and inclusive world by bringing more people with and without ID together through technology.