A Special Olympics Unified Champion School® demonstrating a commitment to inclusion by meeting 10 standards of excellence receives national banner recognition.
A Special Olympics Unified Champion School has an inclusive school climate and exudes a sense of collaboration, engagement and respect for all members of the student body and staff. A Unified Champion School receiving national banner recognition is one that has demonstrated commitment to inclusion by meeting 10 national standards of excellence. These standards were developed by a national panel of leaders from Special Olympics and the education community.
The primary activities within these standards include: Special Olympics Unified Sports® (where students with and without disabilities train and compete as teammates), Inclusive Youth Leadership, and Whole-School Engagement. Banner Unified Champion Schools should also be able to demonstrate they are self-sustainable or have a plan in place to sustain these activities into the future.
The expectation of this recognition is that the 10 standards are continuously being met, year after year. To ensure this sustainability, schools reapply for banner status every 4 years.
The National Recognition Program application cycle for 2023 is below. Visit
Special Olympics North America Unified Champion Schools Submission Manager (submittable.com) to apply.
- March 1, 2023 - Applications open for both NEW schools and schools reapplying
- June 5, 2023 at 5 PM EST - Applications close
- June 2023 - Applications reviewed by Special Olympics Virginia
- July 2023 - Applications reviewed by National Certifying Body
- September 2023 - School notifications