Our Work

National School Recognition Program

Two students on a field one is holding a banner that reads: Special Olympics National Unified Champion School

A Special Olympics Unified Champion School® demonstrating commitment to inclusion by meeting 10 standards of excellence receives national banner recognition.

A Special Olympics Unified Champion School has an inclusive school climate and exudes a sense of collaboration, engagement and respect for all members of the student body and staff. A Unified Champion School receiving national banner recognition is one that has demonstrated commitment to inclusion by meeting 10 national standards of excellence. These standards were developed by a national panel of leaders from Special Olympics and the education community.

The primary activities within these standards include: Special Olympics Unified Sports® (where students with and without disabilities train and compete as teammates), Inclusive Youth Leadership and Whole-School Engagement. Banner Unified Champion Schools should also be able to demonstrate they are self-sustainable or have a plan in place to sustain these activities into the future.

The expectation of this recognition is that the 10 standards are continuously being met, year after year. To ensure this sustainability, schools reapply for banner status every 4 years.

The National Recognition application cycle is currently closed, and recognized schools for the 2020 – 2021 school year will be announced in Fall 2021. The application cycle for the 2021 – 2022 school year will open in April 2022.

During the application review process, school applications will be reviewed in two stages: first by state Program staff and then by a national Certifying Body of key educational leaders. Learn more about the Certifying Body members.

Unified Champion Schools – Our Challenge to You

Class of 2021 National Banner Unified Champion Schools

*Denotes a school with 4-year renewal recognition

  • ALASKA: Wasilla High School
  • ARIZONA: Buckeye Union High School, Heritage Middle School, Mary A. Otondo Elementary School, Raymond S. Kellis High School*, Sunrise Mountain High School*, Verrado High School*
  • COLORADO: ThunderRidge High School
  • CONNECTICUT: Amity Regional High School*, City Hill Middle School*, Lewis S. Mills High School*, North Haven High School, Ryerson Elementary School, Simsbury High School*
  • DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Garfield Elementary School
  • FLORIDA: Durant High School, Felix Varela Senior High School, Florida State University
  • IOWA: Ankeny Centennial High School, Central DeWitt High School, University of Iowa
  • IILLINOIS: Limestone Community High School
  • INDIANA: North Knox Jr-Sr High School
  • KANSAS: Olathe East High School, Shawnee Mission South High School
  • LOUISIANA: Tulane University
  • MARYLAND: Twin Ridge Elementary School
  • MICHIGAN: Bay City Central High School*, Central Michigan University*, Holland Christian High School, Northville High School, Waverly High School
  • MONTANA: Bozeman High School, Gallatin High School, Polson Middle School
  • NORTH CAROLINA: Charles P. Murray Middle School, Duke University, Francis Bradley Middle School, Green Hope High School, Idlewild Elementary School
  • NEBRASKA: Papillion La Vista South High School*
  • NEW HAMPSHIRE: Raymond High School
  • NEW JERSEY: The College of New Jersey, Jefferson School, New Jersey Regional Day School, Rider University, Rowan University*, Washington School
  • NEW YORK: Amsterdam High School
  • NORTHERN CALIFORNIA: San Benito High School
  • OHIO: William Henry Harrison High School
  • OKLAHOMA: Catoosa High School*, Idabel High School, Yukon High School*
  • OREGON: Bend Senior High School*, Forest Grove High School*
  • PENNSYLVANIA: Souderton Area High School*
  • RHODE ISLAND: North Smithfield High School*, Ponaganset High School*
  • SOUTH CAROLINA: Lake Murray Elementary School, Saxe Gotha Elementary School, Swansea High School*, White Knoll High School*
  • SOUTH DAKOTA: Castlewood High School
  • SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: Mission Viejo High School, Robinson Elementary School
  • TEXAS: Samuel Clemens High School, Texas Christian University

View the full list of nationally recognized Unified Champion Schools.

Banner Recognition Resources
Read the 10 standards that must be met at the elementary school level to earn national recognition
Read the 10 standards that must be met at the middle & high school level to earn national recognition
Read the 10 standards that must be met at the college level to earn national recognition
Learn the correct program language and examples of how to use them
Find resources for Unified Champion Schools for students, educators, and programs.
Do you think your school meets the 10 standards of excellence? Apply today and receive national recognition!
Unified Champion Schools Resources
Inclusion is on the playing field; in your school; starts with you. #UNIFIEDGENERATION
Find a collection of tools to assist students, teachers, and State Programs in promoting Unified Schools in their communities.
Promoting student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness.