2020 Grants Challenge

Build Acceptance & Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in LAUSD via Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools®

Build acceptance and inclusion of persons with disabilities in LAUSD via Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® (UCS) which includes: Unified Sports - Students with and without intellectual disabilities develop athletic skills while forming friendships, fostering respect for each other, and becoming leaders; Inclusive Youth Leadership - Students of all abilities become agents of change within their school, community, and state; and Whole School Engagement – Entire school communities engage to create a socially inclusive school climate.


In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

LAUSD (please select only if you have a district-wide partnership or project)

In what stage of innovation is this project?

Expand existing program

Please list the organizations collaborating on this proposal.

For Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® (UCS) programming in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD)

Special Olympics Southern California (SOSC) primarily collaborates with LAUSD Adapted Physical Education Department. Working closely with LAUSD Adapted Physical Education Department

we also collaborate with each participating school's administration


and participants (currently 21 UCS in LAUSD with 6 additional UCS to be added in 2020-21 school year).

If you are submitting a collaborative proposal, please describe the specific role of partner organizations in the project.

Each participating Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® will:

Agree to “Standard Expectations of Unified School Champions®.”

Provide school-based Liaison to work with SOSC to:

i. develop UCS Annual Work Plan;

ii. ensure agreed upon activities are being conducted on campus;

iii. identify and engage 2+ student youth leaders (preferably one with intellectual disabilities and one without);

iv. monitor and ensure grant funds used appropriately;

v. submit regular participation data;

vi. encourage and support UCS activities on campus; and

vii.participate in evaluations.

Provide team rosters.

Ensure 1+ adult/UCS school participate in the free online Coaching Unified Sports Course (

Ensure each student participant is recognized as any other student-athlete on campus.

What is the need you’re responding to?

Individuals with intellectual disabilities represent the largest disabled population in the world. SOSC currently engages 12,959 students with intellectual disabilities in LAUSD (>80% from low-income families).

Individuals with disabilities experience multiple disadvantages (Emerson 2013), including being more likely to be unemployed long term, have physical and mental health problems, lack a voice in the community, and have fewer support networks. The seeds of lifelong disadvantage are sown early and are socially determined. In the school system alone, 60% of students with special needs report being bullied compared to 25% of general education students (Learning Journal 2008).

The importance of participation and inclusion to health and well‐being is well known, and many determinants of chronic illness for people with an intellectual disability are fully modifiable via healthy lifestyles and activity (Davis 2014).

Why is this project important to the work of your organization?​

SOSC’s 55 Board members and 83 staff are strongly committed to building community awareness and providing community education on acceptance and inclusion of individuals with disabilities. We:

Have positive international brand.

Collaborate closely with LAUSD Adapted PE Dept to provide sustainable UCS programming with positive outcomes.

Reach 12,959 students with intellectual disabilities and provide 59 competitive/exhibition events in LAUSD annually (386 schools); 100% athletes increase their physical fitness activity level.

Engage 436 volunteers in LAUSD; 80% improve awareness and understanding of persons with disabilities.

Partner with >600 organizations, i.e. law enforcement agencies, cities/communities, corporations, schools and charitable orgs.

Provide programs free of charge to participants/families; ~84 cents of every dollar raised funds programs.

Have strong UCS Program Leadership for LAUSD: Melissa Erdmann, AVP; Dustin Hildebrand, Manager; and Steve Munoz, Coordinator.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?​

Direct Impact: 1,555

Indirect Impact: 30,590

Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.

Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools® positively impacts the lives of all participants through a community of acceptance, inclusion, encouragement, leadership, and sport. Athletes with disabilities learn that they are valued human beings that deserve respect and recognition. Society is strengthened by bonds of shared experiences and commonalities.

With sports as the foundation, UCS’ three-components (inclusive sports, inclusive youth leadership opportunities, and whole school engagement) equip young people with tools and training to create sports, classroom, and school climates of acceptance.

Together we are creating a Unified Generation that “Chooses to Include.” Join us at:

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.

Our Goal: Increase social inclusion of students with intellectual disabilities on LAUSD campuses through Special Olympics Unified Champion Schools®. Our Vision: Schools that Welcome All People.

SOSC will be successful in 2020-21 school year by collaborating with LAUSD’s Adapted Physical Education Department to assist 21 existing UCS (with <10% attrition) and activate 6 new UCS in LAUSD. Of the schools fully implementing UCS, SOSC expects at least 80% to:

-Raise awareness about students with disabilities on campus;

-Increase opportunities for students with and without disabilities to work together;

-Create a more socially inclusive school environment; and

-Reduce bullying, teasing, and offensive language.

Additionally, there is developing evidence that UCS:

-Perform better than other schools on measures of school climate (respect for diversity, social/civic learning, school connectedness/engagement).

-Improve five student social and emotional learning competencies (self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making, as defined by Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning).

SOSC measures UCS program success using surveys of school liaisons in schools with full UCS implementation, including mid-year report, end-of-year report, and UMASS Boston Liaison Survey. The UMASS study is conducted annually (11+ years) and compares regional and national results. Results are published 6-9-months after school year completion.

Which of the CONNECT metrics will your submission impact?​

Social and emotional support

Disability access and inclusion

Are there any other LA2050 goal categories that your proposal will impact?​

LA is the best place to LEARN

LA is the best place to CREATE

LA is the best place to PLAY

LA is the healthiest place to LIVE

Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?​

Access to the LA2050 community

Communications support

Strategy assistance and implementation