Special Olympics North America Unified Champion Schools

There are presently no open calls for submissions.

Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® builds on Special Olympics’ values, principles, practices, experiences and impacts to shape a generation that welcomes everyone.

Our Goal: Schools that Welcome All People

The Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools program is aimed at promoting social inclusion through intentionally planned and implemented activities affecting systems-wide change. With sports as the foundation, the three component model offers a unique combination of effective activities that equip young people with tools and training to create sports, classroom and school climates of acceptance. These are school climates where students with disabilities feel welcome and are routinely included in, and feel a part of, all activities, opportunities and functions.

This is accomplished by implementing inclusive sports, inclusive youth leadership opportunities, and whole school engagement. The program is designed to be woven into the fabric of the school, enhancing current efforts and providing rich opportunities that lead to meaningful change in creating a socially inclusive school that supports and engages all learners.


2020 Timeline

APRIL 1, 9AM ET - APPLICATIONS OPENS *for both NEW schools and schools that are reapplying (every 4 years)

JUNE 1, 9AM ET - APPLICATIONS CLOSE

JUNE - STATE SPECIAL OLYMPICS PROGRAMS REVIEW APPLICATIONS

JULY - NATIONAL CERTIFYING BODY REVIEWS APPLICATIONS *New this year

AUGUST/SEPTEMBER - SCHOOL NOTIFICATION

SPRING 2021 - APPLICATIONS RE-OPEN


New Information This Year

1. A National Certifying Body (CB)

The Certifying Body will be comprised of members from a variety of organizations and institutions that are leading inclusive practices across the country. Once a school application has been reviewed by their state Special Olympics Program, representatives on the CB will be responsible for further reviewing the application. The Certifying Body is adding a layer of quality assurance and will focus on schools that are meeting the 10 Standards of Excellence both in practice and in spirit. 

2. Renewal of Schools 

In order to give schools the opportunity for continued recognition, as well as ensure quality programming, there will be a four-year renewal process for all national banner schools. Schools will submit their applications in the same platform, Submittable, as first time schools. 

*All banner schools from the 2016 cycle are now eligible to renew their banner status this 2020 cycle!

Please direct all questions to Special Olympics North America Unified Champion Schools Marketing and Communications Manager, Leigha Bannon
lbannon@specialolympics.org