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Expanding a partnership with Special Olympics to foster inclusion worldwide

Nov 18, 2021
Inspired by the courage and vision of the young people who are leading the way, a new $8.5 million grant from SNF will support a global initiative by Special Olympics to expand unified programming in schools and amplify the voices of those calling for action on the urgent issue of inclusion.

The campaign will expand proven inclusive sports programming for people with and without intellectual disabilities to reach nearly 3,000 schools in 22 countries. It will also see the formation of a global coalition of national governments, UN agencies, and nonprofits to collaborate on affirming the value of inclusion through education.

“SNF seeks to support lasting social change for the better, and Special Olympics has a proven record of helping create permanent shifts in mindset that ripple outward from individuals to schools, to families, to communities, and even to whole nations,” said SNF Co-President Andreas Dracopoulos. “We’re very lucky to have committed and energized young people of all abilities showing us the way to a more inclusive future. SNF is proud to be part of the effort to amplify their voices while delivering key services in schools worldwide.”

“We are honored to gain the continued support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation to bring to the world a Global Campaign for Inclusion that rejects and counters the divisive words of political extremes,” said Special Olympics International Board of Directors Chair Tim Shriver. “The Special Olympics’ message of inclusion is one of acceptance of difference that touches hundreds of millions of children and youth around the world. We know that our athletes, and the youth of today across the world have a voice that needs amplification, and strong consideration. Their message is apolitical, non-polarizing—it is one of solidarity, unity and hope that will see us through such a divisive time in human history.”

This new effort builds on a decades-long partnership between SNF and Special Olympics, most recently including a three-year collaboration on the Play Unified: Learn Unified school-based inclusion platform. After participating in Play Unified: Learn Unified, 94% of partner schools say Unified Schools programming has helped reduce bullying, teasing and offensive language in their communities.

Read the full announcement