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Golisano Foundation Gives $175K to Special Olympics NY


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, the development of the 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.


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