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|Founder||Anthony Kennedy Shriver|
|Focus||To enhance the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities|
Best Buddies International is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. It consists of volunteers that create opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). The program's main purpose is to allow volunteers to be paired up with a buddy with an intellectual and developmental disability and provide them with a friend or a mentor. Best Buddies is the world's largest organization dedicated to ending the social, physical and economic isolation of the 200 million people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Founded in 1989 by Anthony Kennedy Shriver (Son of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of Special Olympics) Best Buddies is an international organization that has grown from one original chapter to more than 1,500 college, high school and middle school campuses across the United States and internationally. The Georgetown University Chapter of Best Buddies is the biggest in the Washington, D.C. area and is also the birthplace of the organization.
Best Buddies have eight formal programs – Best Buddies Middle Schools, High Schools, Colleges, Promoters, Citizens, Ambassadors, Jobs, and e-buddies. These programs offer participants with intellectual and developmental disabilities opportunities to learn social skills and job training to be more included in society and to work on being independent.
Best Buddies Middle Schools promotes one-on-one friendships of students with intellectual and developmental disabilities with students without any disabilities. The program takes place within the school itself, between the attending students. This program allows social inclusion for disabled students early in their educational career.
Best Buddies High School Club promotes one-on-one friendships between students with intellectual and developmental disabilities and those without a disability, within the school. This program tries to break social barriers at a difficult time in a teenager’s life, with or without a disability. Members spend time together during lunch break, before or after school. There are special events created in which allows the students to be creative, share and contribute with one another.
Best Buddies College promotes one-on-one friendships between adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and college students. Colleges pair up with a group home in the area and work with the adults there, providing them with a chance to be involved with the community since these adults are generally abandoned by family and have difficulties getting careers.
Best Buddies Citizens promotes one-on-one friendships between adults with and without intellectual and developmental disabilities. This program is used to help incorporate adults with disabilities into civic communities. The goal is to create a diverse community and allow adults with disabilities to be a key part of society.
Best Buddies Ambassadors is intended to train people with IDD to be leaders and public speakers in their schools, communities, and workplace. It is intended to be a part of the Disability Rights Movement - teaching people with IDD the skills needed to successfully self-advocate. The program is intended to prepare people with IDD to become active agents of change.
Best Buddies Jobs is a program that makes sure people with intellectual and developmental disabilities get competitive paying jobs and equal employment. This program provides a support system for both the employee with a disability and the employer.
e-Buddies is an e-mail pen pal program designed for people with disabilities, 10 years old and up, and peer volunteers. This allows people with disabilities to learn communication skills through various media.
The first official Best Buddies chapter was founded at Georgetown University in 1989. Each chapter has an official website called the Chapter Portal. Through this site, members are able to view the calendar, roster, or other important information about the chapter. The administration of a chapter is responsible for updating the Chapter Portal when necessary.
81% of the revenue goes directly to Best Buddies programs, and only 19% goes towards administration and fundraising. The amount that goes towards fundraising is used to create events such as the Friendship Walk and the Best Buddies Challenge.
The Best Buddies Friendship Walk began in 2009 and has since spread to over 24 states. The Friendship Walk has raised over $2 million for Best Buddies. Each state that participates in the Friendship walk can hold the event whenever they wish and as often as they wish. The purpose of the walk is to raise money for Best Buddies while creating an atmosphere for new friendships to prosper and inclusion for all.
The Best Buddies Challenge is the organization's largest fundraising initiative, sponsored by German car manufacturer Audi. It consists of three annual events in the United States in which participants cycle, walk or run. Participants are encouraged to participate alongside Best Buddies, those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Challenge Location Cycling Distance Run/Walk Distance Start Finish Hyannis Port 100,50, or 20-miles 5K Boston, Massachusetts Hyannis Port Hearst Castle 100,62,20, or 15-miles 5K Carmel, California San Simeon, California Washington, D.C 100,62, or 20-miles 5K Washington Monument Washington Monument Miami 100K ---- Marlins Park Marlins Park
The Best Buddies Leadership Conference is a program offered at the Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. The program has four education tracks that are meant for different positions within a chapter or community. The conference takes place once a year for four days. Through the four days, participants go to workshops, seminars, and events.
Some of the conference highlights are:
The top sponsor of Best Buddies International is Audi, but other companies that have donated over $500,000 are Silicon Valley Bank, Country Kitchen, and Zenith.
Through Audi sponsorship, Best Buddies International was able to raise more than US$11.8 million for Best Buddies programs from events in Palm Beach, Hyannis Port, Hearst Castle, New York, Washington and Miami in 2008.
Audi is the title sponsor of the Audi Best Buddies Challenge: Washington, D.C. In addition to being the title sponsor for this event, Audi is featured at all other Best Buddies national events. Best Buddies and Audi also collaborate on a variety of cause marketing programs throughout the year that take place on both the national and regional levels.
Audi has also agreed to support the beginning of Best Buddies Jobs Washington, D.C. Audi had been sponsoring Best Buddies since 2007 and plans to continue to do so through December 31, 2014.
Best Buddies is attempting to create relationships with organizations in countries in the Middle East.
In 2007, Anthony Kennedy Shriver announced the opening of a new accredited program in Doha, Qatar in collaboration with the Shafallah Center for Children with Special Needs, a nonprofit charitable organization.
Other sponsors of Best Buddies include Foundations and Government Partners such as the Anneberg Foundation, the Florida Department of Education and the United States Department of Education. Best Buddies also accepts donations from individual donors, in any sum wanted. And Best Buddies holds auctions to help raise money for its programs.