2014 Grants Challenge
🎉 Winner

Special Olympics World Games 2015

7,000 athletes from 177 countries will take the global stage in LA and show incredible courage, unwavering determination, and sheer joy.


Please describe yourself.

Proposed collaboration (we want to work with partners!)

In one sentence, please describe your idea or project.

7,000 athletes from 177 countries will take the global stage in LA and show incredible courage, unwavering determination, and sheer joy.

Does your project impact Los Angeles County?

Yes (benefits all of LA County)

Which area(s) of LA does your project benefit?

Central LA

East LA

South LA

San Gabriel Valley

San Fernando Valley

South Bay


What is your idea/project in more detail?

Patterned after the Olympic Games, the Special Olympics World Games occur every two years alternating between Winter and Summer. LA 2015 will be the largest event in LA since the 1984 Olympics. 7,000 athletes from 177 countries will compete in 25 events over 9 days supported by 3,000 coaches and 30,000 volunteers. 500,000 spectators will enjoy LA’s world-class venues, including the Athlete Villages hosted at USC and UCLA, and Opening Ceremony at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. 500,000 spectators and visitors will experience LA’s destinations, a projected $415 million boost to the local economy. Special programs include athlete physical exams, Host Town and festivals at USC & UCLA.

What will you do to implement this idea/project?

The 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games Organizing Committee, Inc. (GOC) is the nonprofit operating and management structure set up to fulfill the mission of funding, planning, and staging LA2015. LA2015 will require the skills of 157 paid staff, 220 student interns, plus 30,000 volunteers. Our anticipated costs over a four-year period ending December 2015 are expected to total $74 million. Some of that will be covered with corporate sponsorships, Opening Ceremony tickets, and merchandise sales, as well contributed services and donated product. But $30 million will come from foundations, government and individuals.

Extensive planning is required to develop the operational plans necessary for the production of an event on the scale of the Olympics. The GOC hosted Invitational Games June 6-8, 2014 at USC and Griffith Park. This event hosted athletes from 13 countries, which allowed the GOC to test plans for competition venues, airport arrivals/departures, medical operations and Healthy Athletes, delegation services, language services, credentialing, food & housing, and limited transportation and security. Overall this event was a great success and enabled the GOC to learn some important lessons when planning for LA2015.

In order to scale operations and meet the demands of an extensive hiring plan, LA2015 is heavily utilizing social media and awareness marketing. The GOC has created an amplifier program to give all LA2015 partners the tools to seamlessly share LA2015 content with their networks. LA2015 has created “Support An Athlete,” an online campaign where individuals can sponsor and be connected with their athlete. Finally, the volunteer recruitment plan launched in December 2013, with the objective of finding nearly 30,000 local individuals, from physicians to parking attendants. For the first time in World Games history the GOC has implemented a CRM database, which has already expanded registration capabilities. After LA2015 all data and lessons learned will be shared in the transition leaving Special Olympics Southern California with thousands more trained and committed volunteers.

How will your idea/project help make LA the best place to CONNECT today? In 2050?

LA2015 is an extraordinary opportunity for Angelenos to come together and host the world. A city with more than 135 nationalities represented, Los Angles offers a built in fan base for nearly every visiting delegation. Volunteerism is the backbone of LA2015, requiring the support of 30,000 volunteers from across Los Angeleles. Together Angelenos will welcome thousands of athletes, their coaches and families. These games are an embodiment of what Los Angeles is all about -- a vibrant civic fabric full of hopes and dreams. LA2015 is just the needle to stitch our communities together. If USC and UCLA can get behind a common cause so too can Watts and Woodland Hills.

A study commissioned by the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention board estimates LA2015 will bring a $415 million boost to the local economy as a result of the World Games. It also is worth noting there will be no other large-scale world events taking place in the United States prior to the USOC selection for the host city of the 2024 Summer Olympic Games. The IOC and USOC leadership will attend LA2015. Los Angeles has a unique opportunity to showcase to these Olympic committees just what LA can do if given the chance to host the 2024 Olympic Games – certainly a contributing factor to Los Angeles in 2050.

Whom will your project benefit?

LA2015 serves every population attending and participating in the movement leading up to the event and at the Games including: athletes, coaches, family members, spectators, volunteers, 100 Host Town communities throughout Southern California, k-12 students, elected officials, business owners, arts institutions, hotels, and you. All ethnicities, ages, gender and socioeconomic status are represented.

Athletes are the heart of Special Olympics. Our athletes are children and adults with intellectual disabilities (ID) from all around the world. They are finding success, joy and friendship as part of our global community. As their lives open up, athletes gain the confidence that comes with achievement. They feel empowered. At any age and in every country, our athletes are learning new skills, making new friends and gaining in fitness and confidence. Special Olympics athletes are twice as likely to be employed as people with ID who don’t participate in Special Olympics and their positive health indicators are twice as good as well. Finally, because of an increased sense of well-being and personal health, our athletes are twice as likely to live on their own as people with ID who don’t participate in Special Olympics.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

LA2015 enjoys the benefit of a working partnership with:

Deloitte has committed $5 million in pro-bono work throughout the duration of the World Games in 2015. Deloitte’s support includes: assistance in production of LA2015 business plan; financial analysis and budgeting; “Experience Mapping,” identifying all touch points and priorities for World Games constituents; ongoing operational planning support; donation of pro-bono office space (including furniture, phones, office equipment, & utilities); and a loaned executive who served as the GOC’s SVP of Finance.

Davis Elen Advertising has given LA2015 $2.5 million in pro-bono creative services and by serving as the agency-of-record. Davis Elen support includes: the creation of the World Games logo, brand strategy, messaging, video production, other creative and advertising services, development of collateral materials, sales kits, and the overall theme for LA2015.

Kaiser Permanente continues to support the promotion of health and fitness at the Games. Healthy Athletes, a cost free health-screening program, examines all 7,000 athletes in seven clinical areas. In addition, the program gives referrals for follow-up care and provides health-related products like prescription eyewear, shoes, and hearing aids. The program also provides training for healthcare professionals and students on the specific needs of people with intellectual disabilities.

USC & UCLA will host the athlete villages and sports venues.

ESPN has partnered with LA2015 to serve as the Global Media sponsor for the World Games. This historic agreement will broadcast a 3 hour Opening Ceremony special live on ESPN 1 or ESPN 2 (98 million subscribers in the USA), provide a minimum of an additional 5.5 hours of coverage during the Games, production of a daily highlight video package for the GOC to be provided to media around the world, as well as a promotional campaign leading up to the 2015 World Games.

How will your project impact the LA2050 CONNECT metrics?

Rates of volunteerism

Adults getting sufficient social & emotional support

Attendance at cultural events

Number of public transit riders

Percentage of Angelenos that volunteer informally (Dream Metric)

Total number of social media friends (Dream Metric)

Residential segregation (Dream Metric)

Please elaborate on how your project will impact the above metrics.

Rates of volunteerism: Volunteers are the heartbeat of LA2015 requiring 30,000 Angelenos from across the County. Los Angeles has a unique opportunity to come together all at once, something that hasn’t happened since the 1984 Olympic Games. Our volunteers are all ages and their commitments can range from an afternoon to a lifetime. What better way to jumpstart a volunteer movement towards a better Los Angeles in 2050.

Adults getting sufficient social & emotional support: All of the 30,000 volunteers will receive training ranging from their immediate job function to interacting with people who have intellectual disabilities.

Attendance at cultural events: LA2015 enjoys working with the LA Tourism and Convention Board, several cultural institutions, community partners and LAWA to coordinate cultural events for the anticipated 500,000 spectators coming to the World Games.

Number of public transit riders: Angelenos and tourists alike will be urged to use public transit throughout the games. This will be a true test for measuring operating efficiency at peak capacity.

Percentage of Angelenos that volunteer informally: Special Olympics captures all of our volunteers in a CRM database. Follow up can be conducted on rates of volunteerism following LA2015. LA2050 could possibly connect LA2015 with other community centers to benefit from the ripple effect.

Total number of social media friends: LA2015 utilizes all social media outlets.

Residential segregation: Volunteers and spectators will come together from all of LA’s neighborhoods. Through the Host Town program, communities throughout all of Los Angeles County will host international delegations for three days leading up to Opening Ceremony. Not only will LA’s neighborhoods be coming together but also they will host foreign guests in their schools, community centers and on their fields for play.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project.

The Games Organizing Committee (GOC) will work to achieve 5 measurable objectives:

Recruit and develop new volunteers: Through extensive “experience mapping” and planning the GOC has set a target goal of recruiting 30,000 volunteers. Success will be measured by the number of registered individuals (8,000 registered to date), conduct complete volunteer training prior to LA2015, and rates of new membership with Special Olympics Southern California (SOSC). Metrics: Rates of volunteerism; Adults getting sufficient social & emotional support; Percentage of Angelenos that volunteer informally

2) Develop involvement and support of local communities, both geographic and social: LA2015 is implementing the Host Town program in 100 communities throughout the Los Angeles region; to date 60 of the 100 targeted communities are confirmed. LA2015 social media network continues to grow with 13,000 likes on the LA2015 facebook page and 6,000 likes on the LA2015 Spanish speaking facebook page. LA2015 has added 11,000 new fans/followers across all the channels (FB, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin) in the last week alone. Metrics: Total number of social media friends; Attendance at cultural events

3) Improve participants’ physical health: LA2015 will measure the success of the health objective by tracking how many health screenings are completed of 7,000 athletes; by engaging a wide range of local health care practitioners, including medical/dental student. The GOC will survey these providers for lessons learned as they return to their practices and treat patients with intellectual disabilities. Metrics: Adults getting sufficient social and emotional support

4) Develop and implement new organizational tools for future World Games

LA 2015 will submit after action reports for various operational areas. For example, an intricate volunteer registration form has been developed to support all of the Games functional areas in order to streamline recruitment and filter skills of each volunteer i.e. sport, medical, language services, etc.

5) Increase sensitivity to people with intellectual disabilities through public school curricula and general media: LA2015 is utilizing the “Get Into It” curriculum that is used to foster interaction between students with and without intellectual disabilities. There is a strategic goal of being in 400 schools by the end of 2016. Finally, to obtain general media exposure the GOC has secured ESPN as the official media partner.

What two lessons have informed your solution or project?

1. The power of sport is humanity’s greatest equalizer. Through participation and observation people with differences come together for fun. Experiences through sport are typically held onto and can be applied to other challenges in life. The athletes of the Special Olympics have shown that sports training and competition benefits people with intellectual disabilities physically, mentally, socially and spiritually. Prior to this discovery people with Intellectual disabilities never had the opportunity to discover the sense of determination, team, courage and joy that comes with competition. Sport has driven the Special Olympic movement for fifty years.

2. A Special Olympics experience is as beneficial to people without intellectual disabilities. Witnessing the achievements of Special Olympic athletes is inspiring. Families are strengthened and communities at large are transformed for having shared this common experience. Perceptions are changed through a unified experience that suggests individuals are capable of acceptance of other issues within society.

Explain how implementing your project within the next twelve months is an achievable goal.

Deloitte continues to be an important partner for the GOC and is currently working on two projects with a third ready to launch in late June/early July. The first project is creating a Master Scheduling Tool that integrates the competition schedule, awards schedule, non-competition schedule (special events), & operations schedule into one “cloud-based” user-friendly format. This tool can be accessed through any mobile or internet connected device, has an easy to use interface, and tracks important details for each event (times, location, responsible person, etc.), as well as highlights potential conflicts. We hope to have this finished and up and running by the end of August.

Deloitte is also working on a Milestone Tracker system, which is a customized “cloud-based” project management software system (developed in Smartsheet) that will enable us to track important milestones for each functional area and manage our planning process over the course of the next year through a regular system for updates and assessments by a Project Management Office. Deloitte has currently committed a consultant to assist in managing this process 2-3 days per week and we are developing a job description for a potential full-time GOC employee who would drive this process.

Finally, Deloitte will be undertaking a short-term project to research potential structures for the Main Operations Center for the 2015 World Games. This will be a three-phased process that will include research on past models, recommended structures to be considered, and staffing requirements at Games time. We expect this project to launch sometime next month.

LA2015 conducted two all day desktop exercises in preparation for the 2014 Summer Invitational Games. Special Olympics International (SOI) provided the services of VP of Movement Leadership & Integration at SOI, who also served as the Head of Operations for the 2003 World Games in Ireland and has been involved in a number of large-scale events. The desktop exercises created an atmosphere of transparency amongst LA2015 staff about the state of our planning and enabled us to surface a number of issues that needed to be resolved before the test event. Our plan is to bring the expert back at important moments in the planning process over the course of the next 13 months to continue to conduct these desktop exercises to strengthen our overall operational plans.

Please list at least two major barriers/challenges you anticipate. What is your strategy for ensuring a successful implementation?

1. The Games Organizing Committee (GOC) operates in tandem with Special Olympics Southern California (SOSC) to ensure LA2015 doesn’t derail existing local Special Olympic programs and partners. Much of the legacy left behind from LA2015 will benefit SOSC, therefore it is in their interest to work together. The goal is to identify and reach communities within the Los Angeles region where Special Olympics programs currently do not exist. SOSC have loaned senior executives to LA2015 to solidify these collaborations.

One example of how LA2015 and SOSC are collaborating is through the Host Town program. Three days prior to Opening Ceremony the 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches will be hosted in 100 communities throughout Southern California as part of the Host Town program. This will enable the athletes to acclimate to the time zone, put in some light physical training, and experience local community and cultural activities in their Host Town. This is a tremendous opportunity to grow the Special Olympics movement throughout the region and generate excitement and grassroots support for the Games. LA2015 already have nearly 50 cities and communities committed and we have been doing announcement events in those communities for the last 6 weeks, which has generated great local and regional news coverage about the Games.

2. An immediate challenge is to hire exceptional people for the core staff and to bring in the funding to keep that process on schedule. Extensive planning is required to develop the operational plans necessary for the production of an event on the scale of the Olympics. Current staffing has grown to 56 full-time employees on the GOC payroll with a number of loaned employees, interns and part-time volunteers serving in staffing roles for a total of nearly 70 individuals. Finally, our hiring plan has us continuing to build our team, which should reach 101 full-time employees by the end of 2014.