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Golisano Foundation pledges $175,000 grant to Special Olympics New York


Mon, Mar 18th 2024 10:50 am

Funds will support Unified Champion Schools in 3 regions

Submitted by Special Olympics New York

Special Olympics New York is honored to once again partner with the Golisano Foundation in expanding Unified Sports access to students in the Western, Genesee and Central regions. This is the second year of a two-year commitment, for a total of $350,000.

Unified Champion School (UCS) programming is a comprehensive three-component model that combines Unified Sports, Inclusive Youth Leadership, and Whole School Engagement to create school and community climates of acceptance and inclusion. Unified Sports include participation by athletes with and without intellectual disabilities on the same team. Currently, schools compete in basketball, bowling, and/or bocce.

“Unified Champion Schools are inspiring lasting change in schools all over New York state,” said Stacey Hengsterman, president and CEO of Special Olympics New York. “We’ve been so fortunate to find a partner in the Golisano Foundation, which recognizes the importance of inclusion in schools and has prioritized expanding access to Special Olympics Unified Sports and Youth Leadership to more and more students each year.”

“We are committed to supporting the expansion of Special Olympics Unified Sports programming in schools for individuals with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities,” said Erica Dayton, director of the Golisano Foundation. “Our foundation looks forward to following the growth and progress of this program over the next year.”

The Golisano Foundation has supported Special Olympics Unified Sports growth in New York for five consecutive years. Last year, grant-funded improvements included the expansion of a YMCA partnership in Buffalo, development of UCS leadership team at the Rochester City School District, and hosting an inclusive Wayne Finger Lakes BOCES spring event.

Over the next year, Special Olympics New York will use this grant to increase district partnerships, develop additional leadership teams, improve transition partnerships, and increase support for UCS at the elementary and middle school levels. Unified Sports participation is stronger than ever, with this year’s statewide Unified bowling program drawing nearly 200 total schools and 4,000 participants.

For those who’d like to invite their schools to join the movement, visit this page.

More About Special Olympics New York

Special Olympics New York is the largest state chapter in the country, serving more than 42,000 athletes across New York with year-round sports training, athletic competition, and health screenings. The organization also partners with more than 300 schools statewide to offer Unified Sports, where students with and without disabilities compete as teammates.

All Special Olympics New York programs are offered at no cost to athletes, their families or caregivers. The organization has earned the Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar.com and a four-star rating from Charity Navigator, making it one of the most trusted charities in the business nationally. For additional information about Special Olympics New York, to learn more about getting involved, or to make a donation, visit www.specialolympicsNY.org.

More About the Golisano Foundation

The Golisano Foundation is one of the largest private foundations in the U.S. dedicated to making the world a better place for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Golisano Foundation is devoted to opening doors to opportunity, changing negative perceptions and stereotypes, and forging unprecedented partnerships to ensure individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities have pathways to personal dignity, independence, and the best possible expression of their abilities and talents throughout their lifetimes.

Founded in 1985 by Tom Golisano – entrepreneur, philanthropist, civic leader, and founder of Paychex Inc. – the Foundation “imagines the possibilities,” advocating for families, fighting for their dignity, and giving people with IDD the opportunity to thrive in their communities. With more than $60 million in gross assets, it awards about $3 million annually to nonprofit organizations in Western New York and Southwest Florida.

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