In her budget proposal, Betsy DeVos would eliminate all federal funding for the Special Olympics. The organization received $17.6 million from the Education Department this year, but DeVos says it should be supported through philanthropy.
“Special Olympics International receives a grant from the federal government to help fund Unified Champion School programs. So from that, the states each apply for individual grants and the state of Michigan in 2019 received $200 thousand from that grant,” the Ingham and Eaton County Special Olympics Director Anne Goude said.
If the budget proposal is approved, that money, which funds more than 350 Unified Champion Schools in Mich. would disappear.
“What that does is provides funding and grant money for school districts to be able to put together initiatives that bring kids and students with intellectual and non-intellectual disabilities together,” Goudie said.
These programs include youth leadership, inclusion, acceptance, anti-bullying, community service, and sports.
She says there is a trickle-down. “When that $18 million, if it does not get allocated down and then it doesn’t come to the state of Michigan and then it doesn’t come to school districts in the Greater Lansing Area, programs, will be cut.”
The Greater Lansing area is one of the larger programs in the state of Mich. with over 3,200 athletes who participate, and Goudie says any funding cuts would really hurt the students.
“The benefits, the data that we see and the implications– the socialization, the acceptance, and inclusion that we’re seeing in our schools is absolutely amazing. So it would be detrimental because without that funding those are things that are not going to get funded. School districts do not have the extra capacity to be able to come up with those funds given their current funding structure,” Goudie said.
She says this is a prime example of how decisions made on a federal level can, in fact, be seen and felt locally.