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Soccer Without Borders

Rating: 5 stars   5 reviews 491

Nonprofit Issues:



9 Waterhouse St. Cambridge MA 02138 USA


Soccer Without Borders uses soccer as a vehicle for positive change, providing under-served youth with a toolkit to overcome obstacles to growth, inclusion, and personal success.


In the past year, SWB has worked with 1200 youth from 43 countries at core, seasonal and camp programs. Additionally, SWB engaged 1500 youth through outreach and one-day events. SWB’s mission of facilitating growth, inclusion and personal success for newcomer youth is made possible by the quantity of direct hours invested at our programs (average core participants spend 12-15 hours/week with SWB). That depth of programming creates a team environment where youth can experience: Growth 85% of core participants surveyed agree that because of coming to SWB they feel more comfortable expressing themselves 83% of core participants surveyed agree that because of coming to SWB they make healthier choices Inclusion 92% of core participants surveyed agree that because of coming to SWB they feel more comfortable around people who are different from them and 94% agree that because of SWB they had made new friends Personal Success In 2012, 67% of middle schoolers and 86.7% of high schoolers improved their grades at SWB Baltimore. In the same year, 47.6% of participants qualified for their schools’ honor roll. Since 2007, 94% of regular SWB USA participants have graduated high school compared to the national average of 60%.

Target demographics:

SWB USA creates positive team communities for newcomer refugee, asylee and immigrant youth. Each year, close to 80,000 refugees and 500,000 immigrants arrive in the US seeking peace and a chance for a better future. Newcomer youth are one of the most vulnerable populations in the seven US cities where SWB programs operate. Not only are these youth navigating a new culture and language, their often-traumatic backgrounds create significant barriers to traditional models of academic and social “success.” The difficulty of integration is compounded by many unfortunate social realities that exist in the communities where SWB programs operate. The combination of poverty, urban violence, and cultural isolation lead many newcomer to youth to feel hopeless, with a National school drop-out rate of more than 40%. SWB International focuses on engaging populations that are traditionally excluded or marginalized, with a particular emphasis on engaging girls.

Direct beneficiaries per year:


Geographic areas served:

USA: Baltimore, MD; Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; Greeley, CO; Los Angeles, CA; New York, NY; Oakland, CAI nternational: Granada, Nicaragua; Kampala, UgandaPast Programs in: Egypt, El Salvador, Guatemala, South Africa, Zambia


USA: Baltimore, MD; Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; Greeley, CO; Los Angeles, CA; New York, NY; Oakland, CA International: Granada, Nicaragua; Kampala, Uganda Past Programs in: Egypt, El Salvador, Guatemala, South Africa, Zambia

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Reviews for Soccer Without Borders

Rating: 5 stars  

I worked for Soccer Without Borders Baltimore starting as an intern in 2012. From the first day of orientation I was immediately sold on the mission and the passion moving forward. The first day of practice I went to meet the high school boys. This young man, outgoing and friendly, came up to me and introduced himself. He shook my hand and looked me in the eyes. His gentle tone and welcoming nature immediately captured my attention. He then turned around and started hugging his teammates and saying "hello, my brother, how are you?". Immediately, from day one, I knew this program was more than soccer, they were a family. My main project as an intern was developing the first international summer camp in the Baltimore location. It was challenging to develop a curriculum, recruit volunteers, register youth and the overall logistics of camp. I felt supported and challenged simultaneously, and as someone fairly new I felt a level of autonomy. As my internship came to a close I was offered a position on staff and I couldn't resist. I moved from Chicago and I have been swept away without a second thought. Soccer Without Borders taught me more than just soccer, or play, but about compassion, empathy, trial and triumph. The students we work with overcome obstacles and barriers that many people can't fathom. While serving with SWB I had the chance to deal with social services, Department of Health, welfare programs, food banks, housing assistance, International Rescue Committee, and other services aimed to provide relief. Through this experience I realized that I needed to go back to school to become a social worker and I focus most my studies and research around trauma informed care services, refugee mental health, and youth development. Now I am in my second semester at the University of Maryland Baltimore School of Social Work program and I would not be here today if it weren't for Soccer Without Borders Baltimore.

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Rating: 5 stars  

I was a long-term volunteer for SWB in Granada, Nicaragua, a few years ago, and it was one of the most formative experiences of my life so far. I felt welcomed from the first day of orientation, and I felt the support and passion of everyone throughout my experience. The staff and coaches in Nicaragua are fantastic, funny, and highly committed people as well. I feel like I made relationships that will last, and I can always reach out for advice or just to say hello.

SWB has done an amazing job of creating a safe community in the spaces where it works, always willing to listen to new ideas and evaluate performances with the goal of constantly improving. I really appreciated this iterative process and how they're always striving to do what's in the best interest of the communities served. The level of commitment is high.

Since returning from my role, I've received a ton of support and encouragement from the staff. They have been incredibly helpful in a number of ways, and I have been able to collaborate with them in different capacities over time as well. In many ways, I feel extremely grateful to have worked with SWB and to continue the relationship today.

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Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

I take students from the University of Idaho to Nicaragua each summer to study global health and community development. We spend an afternoon and evening with Soccer Without Borders in Granada. Each time I am so impressed with how capable and committed the volunteers are and how much they are doing to enhance the life of Nicaraguan girls. They are terrific role models for my students and provide fresh insight into the rich rewards that come from committing yourself to service.

How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Very Well

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Rating: 5 stars  

I had the opportunity to volunteer with Soccer Without Borders both in Boston, MA and Granada, Nicaragua. While each site is unique, they are united by the passion of those who work there and the time and energy that they put in to being a part of the local communities.

In Nicaragua, the program does an amazing job of bringing together community members, local staff, long-term American interns, and short-term volunteers to work with the girls of the program. While this can be a challenging balancing act, the organization puts significant thought into each trip to ensure that volunteers are both able to contribute to and learn from the program and its participants. Each time I return, I am more impressed with how the program has developed and grateful for the relationships that I have been able to form during my time there.

The East Boston site has already become a great space for the youth, and somewhere that I know will be fun every time I volunteer. They do a great job of combining big one-day events with ongoing programming, focusing on both their "teams" and continued outreach. SWB is already a valuable resource for youth in its communities, but one of the best parts is that they continue to think about how they can be even better.

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A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

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Rating: 5 stars  

I went on a trip with Soccer Without Borders to Granada, Nicaragua the summer before my senior year in high school. It was an unbelievable experience that I will never forget, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Working with underprivileged girls in the area, and watching them build confidence through soccer was inspiring to be a part of. Even when not officially working with the girls, we would play soccer and tag with the kids in the barrio we were staying in (in homestays), and this is when I formed some of the strongest relationships with the kids that I will always remember and value, and this helped me gain a better understanding of their culture. I learned so much from the coaches and girls in Soccer Without Borders, and I think this is what makes the program so special: it emphasizes a cultural exchange in which both the volunteers and the participants learn from each other in a mutual relationship. Soccer Without Borders is definitely a valuable and noteworthy program that provides so much hope and opportunity to under-served youth.

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