Special Olympics Named Among Top 100 Proposals for MacArthur Foundation $100M Grant

Global expansion of Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools was announced as one of the top proposals in helping to solve one of the world’s most crucial social challenges
Special Olympics Europe Eurasia Youth Leaders playing in a game of Unified basketball.
Special Olympics Europe Eurasia Youth Leaders playing in a game of Unified basketball.

Washington, D.C.: The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation named Special Olympics and its Unified Champion Schools initiative as a top proposal in their 100&Change competition. The 100&Change competition solicits proposals to solve significant social challenges. The Foundation will ultimately select one proposal to receive a single $100 million grant.

Over 700 proposals from around the world were rigorously vetted based on impact, feasibility, and sustainability—leaving the top 100 proposals, representing the most powerful solutions to accelerate positive social change in fields such as food security, safe water and sanitation, and healthcare access. The global expansion of Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools was selected amongst these top 100 proposals by the MacArthur Foundation’s Board of Directors.

“MacArthur seeks to generate increased recognition, exposure, and support for the high-impact ideas designated as the Top 100,”said Cecilia Conrad, CEO of Lever for Change and MacArthur Managing Director, 100&Change. “Based on our experience in the first round of 100&Change, we know the competition will produce multiple compelling and fundable ideas. We are committed to matching philanthropists with powerful solutions and problem solvers to accelerate social change.”

For the past twelve years, in partnership with the Office of Special Education Programming of the U.S. Department of Education, Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools has been intentionally promoting social inclusion by bringing together students with and without intellectual disabilities in sports and youth leadership opportunities. Building on the success and impact in the U.S., Special Olympics work with youth and schools has expanded to over 140 countries and territories through partnerships with the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the Lane Family, the Samuel Family Foundation, Kantar, the Lions Club International Foundation, UNICEF, Hasbro, ESPN, Microsoft, and others.

With its 100&Change proposal, “Inclusive Mindsets and Skillsets through Unified Champion Schools” Special Olympics would expand the implementation of Unified Champion Schools around the world. This expansion will bring inclusive sport and leadership development programming to schools and communities in order to create a standard of inclusion. Special Olympics would also partner with leading researchers to deepen the understanding of inclusive mindsets and how they are developed.

To highlight the top proposals from 100&Change, the MacArthur Foundation has launched The Bold Solutions Network, recognizing and promoting the diverse group of leading proposals. This network features a searchable collection of projects to which philanthropists and donors can identify solutions that align with their endeavors and charitable efforts. Beyond high visibility, Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools will be given technical support and learning opportunities to support the expansion of the program around the world.

“Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools addresses one of our time’s most important issues: inclusion. Participants in Unified Champion Schools—whether that be in the United States, United Arab Emirates, India, Brazil, Kenya, or dozens of other countries—are learning the skills needed to meet difference with positivity, reducing bullying and creating inclusive school communities. Recognition of Unified Champion Schools as part of the Bold Solutions Network shows how much our world needs effective tools to teach the skills of inclusion,” said Soeren Palumbo, Vice President of Global Youth Engagement, Special Olympics. “We look forward to continuing in the 100&Change competition and continuing to work with leaders in philanthropy, government, global development, corporate social responsibility, and more around the world to create an inclusive future.”

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