Growing an Inclusive New York: Strategic Planning Progress In Year One

Enhance. Expand. Empower.

In 2022, Special Olympics New York set the most ambitious goals for growth in its 50+ year history with the launch of the Strategic Plan: Growing an Inclusive New York 2022-2025. Now, one year later, we’re checking our work.

Our team conducts a rigorous yearly census to evaluate our impact on our community. Additionally, these results are measured against other Special Olympics chapters and help determine how federal funding is allocated.

So what kind of impact have we made so far? We’ll take a closer look in this blog post.

Goal #1: Enhance

We aimed to enhance the quality of service to current athletes and other stakeholders while also reconnecting with those we lost touch with during the pandemic. To meet this goal, we encouraged athletes and coaches to expand their participation by taking on a new sport or seeking out a new opportunity, such as athlete leadership.

We measure our success in this area is by looking at the depth of program that our participants are taking advantage of, and by collecting feedback from our community.

According to the 2022 Census, we saw a 70% increase in training clubs, bringing our current total to nearly 1,500 (up from 870 in 2021). We also more than doubled the number of competitions offered, hosting 216 in 2022 (up from 102 in 2021).

These two measures are where depth of program occurs, so continued increases will be critical to keeping this dial moving in the right direction.

Goal #2: Expand

When people become Special Olympics athletes, their lives are changed for the better. The isolation of the pandemic underscored the importance of our services for those who need them. That’s why we’re working tirelessly to expand our reach amongst people with disabilities. 

With 42,000 athletes now registered, we have grown our athlete base by 32%, putting us on track to meet our goal of 71,000 by 2025. This growth can be attributed to several factors: 

  • An unprecedented 38% growth in school programming, with 210 Unified Champion Schools now engaging 6,000 students with and without intellectual disabilities.
  • Athlete recruitment, club development, and re-engagement efforts in each of our nine regions. (For example, our Western Region has earned 196.1% athlete growth from 2021 to 2022.)
  • Invitations at an early age, with nearly 10,000 Young Athletes registered.

But athletes aren’t our only growing demographic. We now serve 6,000 coaches (up 62% since 2021) and 21,000 volunteers (up 76% since 2021).

What’s next? We’ll continue recruiting new members to our community while also enhancing the depth of participation of those already involved, especially those who joined us in 2022.

Goal #3 Empower

Our third and final goal is to achieve sustained organizational excellence. This is the most forward-thinking of our objectives, and therefore dependent on the statistics we’ve discussed so far. We will analyze this data and the outcomes of our work, regularly seeking feedback and adjusting based on what we’ve learned.

Furthermore, our technology is key to our future success. We must use it to develop a sustainable financial model that allows for growth and gives us the freedom to innovate. To that end, we’ve made several changes:

  1. We’ve adopted a new email client that will deliver a more personalized experience to our constituents.
  2. We’ve created a database where prospective athletes can find opportunities near them.
  3. We’ve consolidated statewide volunteer opportunities into one location.

      With these innovations and more to come, we’re confident we can continue to improve the quality of our offerings.

      Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging

      Special Olympics New York’s commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) is woven throughout our strategic plan. In the first year, we aspired to acquire baseline demographic data, establish a DEIB staff committee, provide comprehensive staff training, target underserved communities with our outreach efforts, and foster an environment where every one of our stakeholders is and feels valued. This important work is ongoing. Follow along with our DEIB progress here.

      Join the Movement

      No matter who you are, Special Olympics New York has a place for you. We’re recruiting athletes, coaches, volunteers, fundraisers, and so much more. Change your life today!