Special Olympics Arizona is one of 43 organizations  selected to receive a grant in a new Grassroots Grants Program, an initiative that was introduced through the golf industry’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Collaboration and designed to increase participation among those who are underrepresented in the sport.

The grant program is managed by WE ARE GOLF, a coalition of the game’s leading associations and industry partners, with the help of an inclusive work group focused on Youth and Adult Player Development.

“There are many incredibly passionate and important community-based programs that are successfully bringing more people from various backgrounds into golf every day, including Special Olympics Arizona,” said Michael Cooper, Ph.D., who is co-leading the Youth & Adult Player Development Work Group. “I am pleased we can channel grants to these organizations and will continue to champion ways to expand their work.”

The purpose of the Grassroots Grants Program (GGP) is to support 501(c)(3) charitable organizations or programs dedicated to increasing golf participation among those who are underrepresented in the sport: Black, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, and Indigenous communities as well as women, LBGTQ+ individuals, Veterans, and individuals with disabilities.

“We are honored to be included as one of 43 organizations to be selected for the Grassroots Grant Program,” said Jamie Heckerman, President and CEO of Special Olympics Arizona.  “We truly understand that many sports, including golf, are underrepresented for individuals with intellectual disabilities.  One of our main goals is to continue to break those barriers, and this generous grant will help us continue to do that.”

Special Olympics Arizona was selected for its ability to reach more than 21,000 athletes statewide to empower children and adults with intellectual disabilities to live healthy, fulfilling and meaningful lives.  This vision of acceptance and inclusion is realized through health,

leadership and advocacy programs, as well as providing year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-style sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving more opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes, and the community.

The Grassroots Grants Program is a tangible outgrowth of an industry-wide focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. In addition to the Youth & Adult Player Development Work Group, efforts are also underway in the areas of education and skill development, talent acquisition, procurement, human resources and marketing. Each work group includes representative voices from all backgrounds.

In June, the marketing work group led the launch of Make Golf Your Thing, a movement designed to grow and diversify the sport by inviting people from all backgrounds and skill levels to engage with the game of golf in their own way – from traditional 9- and 18-hole rounds or simulated play, to enjoying a tournament in-person or on TV.

The program is being financially supported by partners committed to making the game of golf more welcoming and inclusive for all.

For more information on the golf industry’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Collaboration, visit https://wearegolf.org/diversity-equity-inclusion-collaboration/.  For more information on Special Olympics Arizona, visit www.SpecialOlympicsArizona.com.