Special Olympics Announces Three-Year Bank of America Grant to Advance Inclusion Efforts Across Underserved Communities
Special Olympics and Bank of America announce a $5 million grant to expand existing leadership programs into urban school districts with a focus on reaching underserved communities and communities of color to address ongoing, compounding disparities faced by individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID). The grant will support leveraging emerging technology to assist in the critical work of removing barriers to inclusion and helping Special Olympics athletes and their families advance their economic opportunity and quality education.
The three-year, $5 million grant from Bank of America extends through 2024 and will enable Special Olympics to access new tools to better track demographics and use that data to develop programming to address the disparities inordinately impacting people with intellectual disabilities. Also, the grant will support the Unified Champion Cities Schools Initiative and expand Special Olympics Athlete Leadership programming to disadvantaged communities by providing holistic, wrap-around services to people with and without ID, their families, and the broader community.
Bank of America funding will also enable Special Olympics to host the next Global Athlete Congress, planned for 17-23 June 2023 in conjunction with the World Games in Berlin, Germany. The Global Athlete Congress will serve as a platform to accelerate leadership programming worldwide.
“Bank of America’s support comes at a critical time for leveling the playing field and making a whole-person approach to leadership accessible to underserved communities,” said Mary Davis, CEO of Special Olympics. “Bank of America recognizes that Special Olympics athletes are among some of the best advocates and educators of inclusion. We stand alongside them in demonstrating the benefits and importance of including people with ID in all disability discussions around the topic of disability.”
Through its longstanding support of Special Olympics, Bank of America has played a pivotal role in the development and expansion of the Athlete Leadership program, including the evolution of the Unified Leadership approach. This programming has enabled Special Olympics to transition from an organization for people with intellectual disabilities to a movement led by people with ID.
“We have invested in the mission of Special Olympics and the global movement for inclusion for nearly 40 years,” said Andrew McCartney, global human resources executive and co-chair of Bank of America’s Disability Executive Advisory Council. “Extending and deepening our support for Unified Athlete Leadership is a pivotal component to underscoring our long-standing commitment to diversity and inclusion beyond our walls and within the communities we serve.”
Bank of America’s decades-long support of Special Olympics is rooted in shared values. These values are encapsulated in Special Olympics Pakistani athlete Jasmin Sharif, who having benefited from the Athlete Leadership programs said, “inside every human being, the heartbeat is the same.” The company is committed to creating an environment where all teammates, including those with non-visible and visible disabilities, have an opportunity to succeed and achieve their goals. Their Support Services team, an in-house marketing and fulfillment operations team for over 30 years, is staffed with more than 300 employees with developmental disabilities. Bank of America’s Disability Action Network supports employees with disabilities, as well as employees who have family members, friends or clients with disabilities, by connecting them to opportunities for professional growth and development, holding information forums and providing opportunities for community involvement. Additionally, through its Better Money Habits Volunteer Champions, the bank delivers virtual Better Money Habits presentations curated for people with diverse learning capabilities across 14 markets.
As Special Olympics rebuilds from the impact of the pandemic and returns to play, Bank of America’s ongoing commitment continues to play a pivotal role in supporting Special Olympics emergency funding for local programs that serve as critical connections to opportunities in sports, health, education, and leadership for people with intellectual disabilities and their families.
Source: Special Olympics