More than 100 youth leaders with and without intellectual disabilities are the inaugural recipients of Special Olympics Youth Innovation grants. In total, 80 youth-led projects for inclusion are being implemented in 40 countries spanning all Regions of Special Olympics. 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. Timothy 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 countries around the world.”
The Youth Innovation Grants speak to Special Olympics’ target for the next 50 years: the Unified generation. In the next 50 years, our goal is to create the first Unified generation – a generation that see exclusion and injustice and does something to change it. Youth around the world are hurtling toward achieving this goal, and the Youth Innovation Grants are helping them get there.
The grants of up to $2,000 USD are supporting an array of projects as diverse as their locales, creating change through inclusive sport and other community engagement. Many youth leaders with and without 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.
The projects are predicted to positively affect hundreds of schools and thousands of students – all while working toward one common goal: increased inclusion. Over 2,600 youth with and without intellectual disabilities will become new youth leaders and part of the Unified generation. 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.
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.