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2020 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Soccer Without Borders

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Ethnic & Immigrant Centers, Human Services, Immigration, International, International Cultural Exchange, International Exchange, Sports, Youth Development

Mission: 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.

Results: In the past year, SWB has worked directly with 2800 youth from 75 countries across our domestic and international programs. Additionally, SWB engaged nearly 5,000 thousand additional youth through our leagues, clinics, tournaments, and bridge-building events. SWB’s mission of facilitating growth, inclusion and personal success for underserved youth is made possible by the quantity of direct hours invested at our programs (average core participants spend 10-15 hours/week with SWB), and our investment over time. 76% of youth returned to SWB from last year to this year, a retention rate that continued even into the teen years, when 70% of youth in the US drop out of organized sport. That depth of programming creates a team environment where youth can experience: Personal Development: We measure our participants' personal development using the externally-validated High Impact Attributes survey. In our most recent year, more than 90% of participants demonstrated positive outcomes in positive identity, future focus, plan B thinking, discipline, pro-social connections, and well-being. Social Capital & Mentorship 94% of participants reported that they accept people from other cultures and the same number reported that they had made friends from another culture at SWB. 93% reported that they trust their coach and the same number reported that they feel safe at SWB. Academic Advancement: A recent Palo Alto University dissertation showed that SWB Oakland participants were significantly less absent from school than their peers, and showed improved social self-efficacy. Language Development: 99% of SWB USA participants are English language learners; 91% reported that they feel comfortable using English at SWB. 97% of SWB Nicaragua participants (ages 7-19) advanced from one grade to the next in our most recent year. In Nicaragua, more than half of students drop out of school before 7th grade.

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: 2300

Geographic areas served: USA: Baltimore, MD; Boston, MA; Greeley and Aurora, CO; Oakland, CA International: Granada, Nicaragua; Kampala, Uganda; Afghanistan Women's National Team; Nepal Past Programs in: Egypt, El Salvador, Guatemala, South Africa, Zambia, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles

Programs: Our holistic, year-round program model includes five main program activities: Soccer play and instruction - We provide the equipment, coaching, and transportation needed to help participants of all skill levels pass, dribble, score, sweat, win, lose, learn, and celebrate together in organized practices and games. Educational support - We provide academic and language development support, high school and college preparation, as well as workshops on nutrition, wellness, mindfulness, healthy relationships and any other topics that are most important to them. Team-building - With the team unit as the centerpiece of our program model, we prioritize low adult-to-participant ratios and utilize deliberate team and program-building strategies to create an inclusive community that transcends differences. Civic Engagement - We connect our programs and participants to the local and global community through themed events and team service projects, creating key leadership opportunities off the field. Cultural Exchange - We emphasize dialogue, understanding, and friendship across cultures through intentional activities including the use of grouping strategies, themed events, and opportunities for meaningful exchange. Youth enter SWB at varying levels of soccer ability, English ability, and comfort in their communities; flexibility and innovation are key. Our core, team-based program offers 10-15 hours per week of on and off field activities for more than 35 weeks per year to middle and high school-aged participants. This creates a feeling that goes beyond team: SWB becomes family. During a typical week, depending on the age group, a participant will attend 2-5 academic or language workshops, 3-5 soccer practices and games, and 2-5 hours of team-building activities or informal time with their coaches and teammates. The dosage of activities increases as youth enter the critical adolescent years, when choices have greater consequences and the pressures to engage in negative behaviors increase. Our elementary school programs are lighter touch (1 day/week, 20 weeks and/or summer camp) and serve as feeders for middle and high school) During the year, all programs also participate in global events (ex: World Refugee Day, International Day for Sport for Development and Peace, etc. ) while designing specific activities to support integration and inclusion with non-newcomer community members.

Community Stories

84 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been working with Soccer Without Borders so far in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite much of their programming being built around in-person activities, SWB has adapted to continue to provide their great service to kids all around Oakland. SWB has been able to combine keeping everyone safe with a great environment to learn both soccer and also social/emotional skills. Their ability to create a program that gives kids the joy of playing soccer and also provides so many other services to our community is unmatched.

Sarah M.20

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered at the SWB Baltimore branch throughout the summer of 2019. I spent about half the day helping coach student participants in soccer and half the day as an assistant teacher in an eighth grade class. Soccer practice was a great way for players to connect and build relationships regardless of language proficiency or duration in the SWB program. It was clear that many players considered fellow SWBers their closest friends. In the classroom, we worked on writing practice and discussed leadership skills - the eighth grade group was preparing to be coaches for the next year's Summer Academy. I thought the training and use of student-coaches really showed SWB's commitment to creating sustained relationships with program participants. They not only provide education, social, and soccer tools; they also encourage students to be leaders and role models in SWB's organization and in their broader communities. My fellow volunteers and SWB staff all taught me about restorative teaching practices, demonstrating the organization's value of mutual respect and open discussion when resolving conflict or issues. Overall, I had a great experience with SWB Baltimore. I look forward to visiting the cheery, energetic, and supportive community I got to know during my summer as a volunteer.

Brahema M.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

SWB has been a bright spot in my life. I have interned twice and volunteer at SWB for the last 2 plus years. The staff show so much love for these SWB kids, it’s a joy to watch and I will always come back to volunteer as many times as possible. SWB is giving these kids a chance to be great in anything they put their minds to.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I became a volunteer for Soccer Without Borders shortly before the pandemic. The video call practices on zoom and in-person practices were all well organized, interactive, and safe. In the short time I have been working here, I have felt the presence of a caring community made up of amazing co-workers. Soccer Without Borders promotes inclusivity and positivity, and I am grateful to be a part of the program.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered for SWB last spring/summer and had a great experience! The organization recruits great volunteers and employees, provides positive role models for students, and promotes equality, equity and respect for participants.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was a SWB volunteer for the 2019-2020 school year at the Aurora, Colorado location. My role as coach was to help middle schoolers harness their soccer skills and to encourage and empower those feeling unaccepted or undervalued. I often engage these players on the side-line in conversation, assisting with homework as needed and building their confidence to help them adequately express themselves, increase their interaction with others and reach their full life potential. I can not say enough positive things about my experience. It was an incredibly supportive and inclusive environment and the program Coordinator, Laura Kranish, was absolutely amazing! It was very special and rewarding to see the sport I love transcend economic and cultural barriers, uniting people from all backgrounds.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering as an assistant coach for SWB Boston for a little over a year now. I am always impressed with the SWB staff and coaches and their commitment to creating an outlet for the kids through soccer and instilling the inclusive values of SWB. It has been a rewarding experience for me to work with SWB and the middle school boys team I support. The boys on the team seem to gain a lot from the experience and, most importantly, enjoy having the outlet of playing soccer as a part of the SWB team.

I have learned a lot from my experience and enjoy being a mentor to the boys on the team. I would recommend the experience of being a volunteer to anyone who wants to play a part in the success of the broader community of their city.

1 K. Paige Wheeler F.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been a volunteer coach with SWB for two years, and have seen the profound impact this program has on its players and the larger community. I see shy girls become leaders, good students become great students, and a team become a family. Our U12 and U14 girls call themselves "sisters" and show up for each other both on and off the field. During this time of shelter in place and social distancing. SWB has continued to stay connected with players through virtual practices and events, as well as academic and emotional check ins. As a coaching and volunteer team we've even come together to work at a food pantry for the school district, ensuring our players and every kid that's part of the free lunch program will still have access to a full week of meals. Soccer is just the delivery system for a program that provides emotional support, academic support, guidance, fun, and a deep sense of respect for every member of our extended community.

Previous Stories
1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been volunteering with Soccer Without Borders in Oakland for over a year, and help to coach the U12/u14 girls' teams. Our weekly practice and game days are consistently the best days of my week. I see girls grow as individuals, make new friends , and make critical connections to a community of friends and adult mentors that would have otherwise been unavailable to them.

In our summer camp, I saw the over 350 kids come through the camp. While soccer is the platform, joy and confidence are the outcome. I loved coaching my young campers, but even more I enjoyed working with my assistant coach - an SWB player in her teens — and seeing her clear love of teaching, supporting, and being with kids who looked to her as a role model. Which she was and is. And like most of our players, she's an athlete and a scholar; we graduate students from high school at a 50% higher rate than those in this cohort who aren't affiliated with SWB.

I now have multiple player who are interested in being coaches themselves in the future and see it as an opportunity to give back to kids just like them. Even at their young age, they recognize that Soccer Without Borders helps girls find their voice. It's an amazing organization, with leadership and staff who are committed to helping each and every participant be the best they can be - as a person, well beyond the pitch.

Rachael D.2

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I volunteered with SWB in 2011 on a trip to Granada, Nicaragua. To date, this is one of the most enlightening and unforgettable experiences I have had. As a sport for development advocate, I am proud to say that I was part of this organisation which uses football (soccer) as a tool for empowerment, education and inclusiveness - a core part being that of uplifting girls. Coaches and staff always go above and beyond for their participants, always challenge themselves to go further, reach higher and look deeper to see how they can better serve those who rely on SWB's programmes, even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. SWB's participants are well equipped not just with football (soccer) skills, but with life skills.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I was a staff member at Soccer Without Borders from 2013-2014 as a full time coach and mentor at the program in Nicaragua. I later returned to work for SWB's Collective Impact Team in Boston, MA from 2016-2020. While I am no longer working for the organization, SWB remains such an import organization to me that I wholeheartedly support.

Being a part of the SWB staff was such a meaningful part of my own path. One of the best parts of being on this team was working alongside so many passionate, tireless, and empathetic individuals. I have always been and continue to be inpsired by the staff and youth that make SWB a wonderful community to be a part of!

As a staff member at our central office in Boston, MA I also had the privilege of collaborating with each of SWB's programs that offer daily, year-round soccer, education, and community-building programs to youth in the USA (CA, CO, MA, MD, WA) and internationally (Nicaragua, Uganda). I saw firsthand how each program is working to create more opportunities for the youth they serve and how SWB's values and culture are consistent across all locations of the organization - when you are at an SWB session, no matter where in the world, you know it. Immediately coaches on the field create a culture of inclusion and welcoming where each young person feels valued and cared for.

I plan to support this organization in any way that I can moving forward and continue to be a part of the larger SWB community of volunteers, supporters, board members, and community members. This organization is thoughtful, smart, self-reflective, and welcoming in so many ways - I would absolutely recommend volunteering with SWB, working at SWB, or supporting in any way!

Chris S.16

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Started volunteering with SWB 6 months ago and have enjoyed every minute of it! Coordinators are outgoing, creative, and engaging with the players. Looking forward to next season

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had such a great experience volunteering for the Boston Soccer Without Borders program. I was really
Impressed with the level of organization and thoughtfulness led by the coaches and administrators I supported! The kids are wonderful and seem to enjoy being a part of the team as well.

Jasmin J.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I worked as a volunteer over their summer session. Everyone was very friendly and the communication with the coaches was excellent. I had a lot of fun and will definitely be continuing in the fall!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I worked with SWB for about a year. The work this group does is fantastic. It is encouraging to see soccer used as a bridge and catalyst for development in these students lives. Soccer is a language in it of itself and crosses all cultures, dissolving boundaries. The group uses soccer as a focus point to help develop the whole child including academics and emotional health. I strongly suggest supporting this group especially if you have a love for the beautiful game!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered with Soccer without Borders Seattle for the last year and a half. It has been a tremendously rewarding experience for my own growth. It is incredible seeing the growth in confidence, knowledge, and communication that the middle school team goes through in a single season, and from year to year. This bonds and care that the volunteers, coaches and members of the team all make with each other make it a incredibly positive, empowering, and impactful community.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

We came to SWB looking to mentor a child and now we have extended my family by six! This organization connected us with a refugee family that was a great fit. They've helped us overcome language barriers. And I know how much their soccer family means to the kids. We are all grateful for the experience.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Interning at SWB Baltimore this past summer, I was taken aback by the experience. What stuck out the most was the staff. There was a deep passion about ensuring the kids are being engaged, be it soccer or learning English. The kids show a mutual care for the program. I was a bit surprised that kids were at the program site at 10:00 AM when the program didn’t start until 12:30 PM. When I arrived, the kids were enthusiastic about the day. This type of excitement does not happen elsewhere. Their gleaming faces and eager shouts speak more about the program than anything else. This euphoria lasted throughout the entirety of the program which is simply a testament to the staff for not letting that excitement wane. It would be challenging for anyone, let alone me, to say anything negative about the program simply because of the joy it provides its students. I am grateful for the experience.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered with refugee and immigrant communities through several different organizations, and over my past couple years volunteering with SWB I have been truly impressed. SWB gives newcomer youth a place to belong - where their past experiences, stories, countries and cultures of origin and languages matter but are not barriers to connecting with other youth. Coming together around the shared enjoyment of playing soccer opens up other wonderful opportunities to support these youth and their families as they adjust to life in a new place. SWB's use of trauma-informed approaches, ESOL principles, and other evidence-based practices shows the intentionality and care with which the model has been developed to care as well for the youth they serve as possible. I have gotten to know one family in particular through my volunteer work as a family mentor, and it has been a true privilege to spend time with this family and walk through various steps of their adjustment together. I am thankful for SWB's presence in Baltimore and I know it makes this and other cities a more welcoming place!

Marissa L.2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I absolutely love my time spent volunteering with soccer without borders. The kids are amazing, they all truly want to be there playing soccer, learning, and growing together. It is heart warming to see them helping each other along their own journeys. I believe that my time spent here is truly helping to make someones day a little bit better, and even impact their lives, with out this program I wouldn't be facilitated to make such an impactful change in the world. I am eternally grateful to this nonprofit for what they do and for what they provide.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

SWB has been a great experience for me as a freshman in college. I have had a blast each week getting to play soccer as well as help the kids with their homework. It is an eye opening experience and is very rewarding to see the relationship you build slowly over time with the many kids you get to work with, as you begin to learn their names, and they start to remember you more and more.

Kiarra A.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is an awesome volunteer experience. It has given me the opportunity to work with a great staff and amazing students. I have no doubt in my mind that this staff really cares about the community of students they serve.The effort the SWB staff puts into this program is inspiring. I love how they focus on building soccer and academic skills. Seeing the smiles of students when they not only do well in soccer, but also start to understand an academic subject is the best feeling. Everyone made me feel very welcome since the the first day I started volunteering. When working with the SWB community it can turn my worst days into my best. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to work with such a wonderful group of people. I strongly believe that volunteering for SWB has impacted my life for the better. I will never forget this incredible experience.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Soccer Without Borders has been the most rewarding experience I've had through my undergraduate years at a local Baltimore university. I love the staff, students, and experience. I would definitely recommend getting involved!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I worked with SWB for four years, and still feel like I am part of the family/community! The kids and staff are both inspiring and have brought a lot of joy and support to me. I woke up every day loving going to work! The resilience, teamwork, and new life skills that SWB kids learn from each other, their coaches, and volunteers is truly incredible. Keep up the great work, SWB!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering with Soccer Without Borders for about three years now and I love it! The SWB community is a second family for me. I am always looking forward to the energy of the kids, and seeing them grow and take on new challenges gives me great joy. I believe this organization is so special in the way that it brings people together from all countries and cultural backgrounds, ages and genders, etc. and creates an atmosphere for everyone to flourish. I have seen how this game of soccer unites us, breaks down our language barriers and makes even the quietest of kids smile and shout. Two great benefits of this program are that it provides students with homework help; and it also gives them a place to run around, have fun, and make friends after school. Even when the after school program has ended and the night is falling, you will still find kids kicking the ball around on the field, practicing their skills and having fun with friends.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a volunteer at SWB Baltimore, I have experienced a great sense of community in this organization. I really enjoyed and still enjoy my time spent here because not only are the coaches and interns amazing and caring, but also the kids are a joy to be around.

The combination of the soccer and homework help portions really benefit the kids holistically.

Many life skills are embedded in the game of soccer, and the coaches do a great job of instilling a sense of teamwork and creativity that can be applied on and off the soccer field. Further, after the soccer portion, the whole group gathers around, and the coach leads shout outs or "kilos" acknowledging kids that performed well. I really enjoy the kilos because its pretty awesome to see kids compliment their fellow teammates .

The homework help is highly useful too as it allows kids to ask questions they otherwise are not able to during school. Since school for them can be quite challenging since the teachers can go too fast, the small ratio of tutors to kids serves to address their individual concerns. Although explaining concepts that I learned more than a decade ago can be quite difficult (e.g. what is a ratio) , it is really rewarding when the kid finally understands my convoluted and confusing explanation!

Overall, SWB is a great program that empowers the kids on and off the pitch. I had a great time volunteering, and I hope to continue to do so!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I love volunteering and working with kids, so when I moved to Boston I got involved with Soccer Without Borders as an academic and English tutor. This year, I have started serving as an assistant coach for the middle school girls team. Volunteering with SWB is consistently one of the best parts of my week. I love getting to know the kids, helping out with drills and scrimmages, and watching them grow into more confident soccer players.

The organization itself, specifically the Boston chapter, is wonderful. The coaches care deeply about each and every participant, and they work extremely hard to create the best experiences for the kids, whether it is through well planned practices, trips into Boston, or team building activities. It is a privilege to be a part of an organization that serves as such a positive force in the community, and I look forward to volunteering for years to come.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer with this incredible organization for the past two years and I hope to be involved with them for many years to come. Soccer Without Borders has a culture unlike any organization I have ever seen. Every day I would arrive at camp I would be greeted with tons of smiles and hugs. I have never had the privilege of being part of something so special until I discovered Soccer Without Borders. At the summer camp in Oakland I got to make new friends, meet new people, and watch the kids come out of their shells and flourish into amazing people. I feel so blessed to be a part of a program that has such a large impact on the Bay Area and beyond. Thank you Soccer Without Borders for everything you do.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

In the world of international nonprofits I've worked with, Soccer Without Borders stands as a beacon, a role model, a gold standard. Too many organizations lose sight of localized impact as they face the challenges of scale, standardization, and fundraising -- but this is and always will be the value that drives SWB. SWB brings together some of the most basic and core tenants of humanity to its youth participants, fostering true community, inclusion, belonging, purpose, effective communication, the importance of teamwork, and life-changing value of education. These are fundamental to the growth, identity, and potential of any young adult, and particularly so in SWB's demographic that spans culture, nationality, language, economic status, and history of trauma and relocation.

I am so grateful that I've had the opportunity to get to know SWB and support through volunteering. I'm so impressed by the meaningful work they do every day and will continue to support and promote this incredible organization!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been working with SWB as a volunteer for about two years. It has been one of the better experiences in my life, interacting with many cultures, always meeting new friends. I volunteer every Wednesday and I now consider it part of my life. Volunteering with SWB is a great way to combine my passion for soccer and share it with an amazing group of people such as the SWB community.
I view SWB as a lifestyle!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Dan O'Connor -- Coach and volunteer with Soccer Without Borders for several years.

As a lifelong soccer player & fan with an interest in international relations, critical issues, immigration, and humanitarian affairs, I was very lucky to stumble upon Soccer Without Borders. I know very well from my own life experience the way in which playing on a team can change lives, and so I am very happy to volunteer with SWB and give that opportunity back to people in my community. I have only ever participated in the Boston program (this is my home) but I have heard great things about the other national chapters as well. In the past few years, I have assistant-coached elementary, middle school, and high school boys, as well as the middle school girls.

Great people, responsible organization, deserving participants, and loads and loads of fun. I am so happy to be involved as a volunteer and may one day look to increase my participation in the organization.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I started volunteering with SWB Oakland's U14 boys team in the fall of 2017, just after I relocated to the Bay Area. I wanted to get involved with the community, serve as a mentor, and have fun playing soccer! Over the past year, I've helped the team on game days, driving kids to the field, bringing snacks, and being an adult friend and mentor.

I started with high expectations, but never anticipated the amazing kinship, gratitude, and respect I would develop while serving in the program. The kids involved with SWB are some of the hardest working, courageous, and funniest people I've met in my life, and it has been an honor to play with them, mentor them, and grow with them over the past year. The SWB staff is equally as amazing. They are passionate, devoted, and truly care about the kids in the program. I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to work with this awesome group of people, big and small, and I'm looking forward to helping for many seasons to come!

1 Jennifer Lynn N.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I started volunteering with Soccer Without Borders in Boston last spring, and was searching for a volunteer opportunity that would allow me to share my love of soccer with children and adolescents. It has definitely done that, and far more. Working with the middle school girls is truly one of the highlights of my week. SWB not only teaches them how to play soccer, but also provides them with friendship, academic support, role models, and fun, often hilarious memories that will last a lifetime. As a nurse-midwife who primarily works with immigrant and refugee women, I know how difficult it can be for children, particularly adolescents and teenagers, to settle in to a new country. SWB helps ease some of that difficulty, and provides them with a safe space to share their struggles, triumphs, hopes, and dreams. It is amazing to see how empowered the girls feel after just a few successes in practice, be it learning a new skill, scoring a goal, or making a new friend. I highly recommend Soccer Without Borders to anyone who loves the sport, is passionate about youth development and immigrant rights, and has a heart for children.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered in 2017 with the Soccer Without Borders program in Nicaragua. This program is a true home to so many people, ranging from the players, coaches, and members of the Granada community, to volunteers like myself who had the opportunity to be welcomed there for a year. SWB is a model example of how to empower local communities, promote cultural exchange, and push for positive social change. I am so grateful to have had the chance to connect with and learn from its members and participants, and to be part of the Soccer Without Borders family.

Board Member

Rating: 5

Ask any young person who participates in SWB in Baltimore, Oakland, Boston, Colorado, Seattle, Uganda, or Nicaragua what SWB means to them, and they will say “family”. And that’s what it means to me too. I started with SWB Baltimore as an intern, coaching soccer and doing research on newcomer trends. I then shifted to Academic Director, overseeing all of our academic programming for middle and high schoolers. Then I left my official job at SWB to go to grad school. But here I am 3 years later and 3000 miles away serving on the advisory board of SWB’s newest site - Seattle.

SWB impacts young people in the most holistic sense. It’s a place where newcomers make friends, practice English, learn to navigate a new country, and can ultimately flourish into the best versions of themselves.

And on the day after the international day of the girl, I am especially happy and proud of the work SWB is doing to empower young women to be strong, confident, and badass on and off the soccer pitch.

I know I’ll remember my work with SWB as the most valuable work I’ve ever done.

1

Board Member

Rating: 5

I first became involved with Soccer Without Borders in Boston as one of the coaches on their middle school boys teams. SWB is an amazing youth focused organization with strong ties to the communities they serve. The level of engagement and care and concern of the stuff for the kids is unmatched in all of my volunteer experience. As I transitioned from Boston to Seattle I jumped at the chance to stay involved with the organization as they began to set up a new program in Seattle. SWB is truly a benefit for the kids involved and the communities they serve. I'm glad SWB continues to grow and help more youth and am looking forward to contributing to their continued growth and impact.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Soccer Without Borders is the most fulfilling volunteer experience I've ever had. I've coached youth soccer in other leagues, have tutored ESL students, and have worked with DC high school kids to help prepare them for college, but my time with SWB is truly incomparable. The coaches are incredibly welcoming, encouraging, and kind, and the kids - while they can at times be a handful! - bring me so much joy. It's a privilege to get to be a part of their journey growing up and playing soccer in the US. As a volunteer, I help run drills at practice, and come to the games when I can to cheer them on. It's great that there are uniforms (jerseys, shorts, socks) provided for all of the players and real league games with official referees and scorekeeping - it's not just scrimmages.

Every time I'm with the team, I have interactions with the kids that make me laugh or warm my heart. That's not to say it isn't often hard too - they've got a lot of energy, and the group I help out with (U-14 boys) at times likes to test the limits with authority. But that's all part of it, and every moment is worth it. The players seem to really enjoy coming to practices and games, and have really good relationships with SWB staff. Highly recommend :)

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered for SWB 3 years ago and it was the best experience of my life. I met wonderful people including the staff, other volunteers and the girls of this camp, all of whom I still talk to today. SWB gave me a new outlook on life and taught me so much more than just soccer drills. Living with my host family and immersing myself into their culture was an experience I still treasure to this day and will never forget!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a volunteer in Granada, Nicaragua several years ago, I had the opportunity to play a small part in the huge amount of work that SWB (aka Futbol sin Fronteras) does in Nicaragua. Witnessing the personal, academic, and athletic growth in the girls served by the program was an incredible experience. The Nicaragua staff running and serving the program are so dedicated to their girls and the mission of the organization!

Pietra S.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had an absolutely amazing experience with Soccer Without Borders. The work they do makes such a positive impact on the girls involved and on the community as a whole. I’m so grateful that I got the opportunity to spend time in Nicaragua with such a great organization and great people!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I worked with Soccer Without Borders while completing my Masters degree at Johns Hopkins. It was the most welcoming and fun environment, and I learned so much from the students. The coaches really know what they’re doing and care so much about the program, so it’s an infectious attitude and you can’t help get swept up in it! I’d highly recommend volunteering or interning with this organization if given the opportunity.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Absolutely wonderful organization to be a part of. Have worked with SWB in several capacities for almost 2 years now. Friendly, caring staff as well as a great overall mission. Would certainly highly recommend this to any person who asked me about it.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I spent a year (2011-2012) volunteering for SWB in Nicaragua. When I look back, it is still one of the most impactful years of my life. There were lots of ups and downs and very scary moments, but I would do it all again in a heartbeat. It was a wonderful opportunity to empower girls in the community and see them grow in soccer and life. I continue to follow what is happening with the program down there, and I am very happy to hear of their continued efforts in providing quality education for the girls. They are also providing them with opportunities to make their own way in this life and fulfill their dreams. SWB taught me a lot about life and helping others. I am happy to say that I am continuing to help youth in a full-time capacity and using the tools I gained from SWB to guide my efforts.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved with Soccer without Borders for three unforgettable years. I started three months after I moved from Italy where I spent 10 years of my life as a young immigrant and later as a professional soccer player. There have been lots of wonderful experiences with the SWB family like on my first day at practice at the circle-up when the coach asked everyone to share their names, countries, and favorite teams and soccer players, welcoming everyone and asking them about their journeys. There have also been significant moments at Saturday games or beach days. It has been so rewarding to meet the kids on their first days with SWB, to see them leaving practice alone, and a week later leaving in groups talking and laughing. These moments make me realize how important volunteering with SWB truly is. It gives the kids a home and what they really need: friends, integration into a community, and time to be their genuine selves. I feel very lucky to be a part of this organization accompanying the kids as they develop friendships and soccer skills. It is not only about soccer but also about sharing moments together, building relationships and a strong sense of teamwork, and learning from one another. I hope to be an active participant in the program for many years to come, but whether or not I am able to do so, I will always support this program with all my heart as it has taught me a great deal and supported me when I was a new immigrant myself.

MikeWoitalla

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The 17-year-old midfielder on the team I coach works at a fast-food restaurant five days a week but doesn't miss class at the high school that has helped him become fluent in English even though he arrived in the USA just a couple of years ago. The little free time he has is spent playing high-level ball with his Soccer Without Borders team. He is one of hundreds of boys and girls, recent immigrants, asylees and refugees from more than 15 nations, three continents, whom I have met since becoming a Soccer Without Borders volunteer. Many have overcome unimaginable challenges to find a safe environment to grow up in. Soccer Without Borders makes them feel at home -- playing the sport they grew up with and love. They become close friends with their teammates and are mentored by their coaches, who inspire them to continue their studies. I am constantly amazed at the resilience of these youngsters, making their way in a new country, often without their parents ... learning a new language. Play, exercise and camaraderie is something all children need in their lives -- and that is what Soccer Without Borders provides.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I worked as an Intern for the National Office and the East Boston office this past summer. At the National Office I worked on several projects to support coaches and volunteers at all offices. At the East Boston office I was lucky enough to work on programming-related projects as well as on the field with HS girls and younger age groups too. Working with SWB showed me firsthand the importance and impact of using sport as a vehicle for positive social change and of having role models. I learned individuals' stories in a non-intrusive soccer context. SWB fosters relationships between teammates, youth and adults, and within the community in a way I didn't know was possible.

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Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've had the wonderful opportunity to work as a Fellow at Soccer Without Borders in Baltimore this summer, and I have loved every second of it. My experience thus far has been eye-opening, heart-warming, and most of all, inspiring. The SWB community is is incredibly welcoming and connecting with the students has been very rewarding. SWB very thoughtfully uses soccer as a tool to teach these kids the importance of respect, inclusivity, compassion, and leadership. I have loved witnessing some of the students grow in their English skills and watching their personalities blossom just in the few months that I have known them. This opportunity has also provided me with a lot of knowledge as to what the process looks like for refugee/asylee/immigrant families upon their arrival, and this has allowed me to be a great source of information for any other newcomer families I know who are in need of assistance. SWB and all of the students here have inspired me tremendously, and I am grateful for the experiences I have had here!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been volunteering with Soccer Without Borders this summer in Baltimore. I have never been prouder to volunteer anywhere. Soccer Without Borders creates safe spaces for Baltimore’s refugee/immigrant/asylee youth to express themselves and be respected. Soccer is not only a fun activity for the kids, it is a tool through which they can make friends, learn English, and build leadership skills. Every student is treated with love and respect both on and off the field. Students are always welcome in our office, whether it be to do homework, get help applying for college, or to just hang out and watch a soccer game. Our students know they can come to Soccer Without Borders for help, and frequently do. Soccer WIthout Borders goes above and beyond the task of putting the needs of the youth first and helping them whenever possible. SWB does not turn people away and is constantly striving to keep older kids involved in our programming. I have never worked for a more compassionate or inspiring organization. Getting to know the kids is really rewarding and whether you’re playing around with them on the soccer field or helping a senior apply for college, if you’re looking for an impactful volunteer opportunity that leaves you feeling good afterward, this is it!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been volunteering and providing financial assistance to Soccer Without Borders for nearly five years. I continue to be impressed with the professionalism, work ethic, and sincere care in helping children that both the U.S.- and Uganda-based staff exhibit. I believe the programs make a huge difference in people's lives and that SWB's mission is extremely well thought out and executed.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved with Soccer Without Borders for a few years. I have volunteered at the SWB Kampala Uganda annual Youth Festival three times and I continue to support the organization, and that location specifically, monetarily each month.

To say that I am a big fan of and a huge believer in SWB would be an understatement. From top to bottom I believe the organization is very well run, has the right value structure, and truly "gets" what it means to help and serve others.

I am always impressed with the dedication and professionalism of SWB's staff members—both those in the U.S. and in Uganda. And, as people often say about volunteer opportunities, I get as much, if not more, out of helping and volunteering with SWB than the kids in Uganda that I am assisting. I've made some great friends through SWB and I always look forward to planning and making my next trip to SWB Kampala. How the organization affects the lives of others, in the U.S. and internationally, is astounding.

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Brad G.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Simply put, the Soccer Without Borders model is an effective model for social change, facilitation of love, development of the whole individual, and opportunity through the beautiful game. My name is Brad Gieske, and I volunteered at the team camp in Granada, Nicaragua this past week. I am well-traveled and have experienced soccer programs at the structural level in five different countries and many of the states. This program is a vehicle for social inclusion, skill acquisition on and off of the field, and connection to the world as a whole. I really enjoyed the interaction with the local staff and players and appreciate the opportunity to be connected to their lives journeys. The joy in their hearts radiates in their everyday lives. It is almost as if every day is a celebration, and that is something special to hold onto. I am currently working on a blog for the trip to Nicaragua. You can find it at http://www.playbeautifulsoccer.net/nicaragua.html. If you are considering volunteering/working with Soccer Without Borders, I can promise you that your experience will leave your heart full.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've had the pleasure to have volunteered with Soccer Without Borders since 2008, and I know first hand what an incredible difference they make in the lives of newcomer and refugee youth throughout the USA. I started volunteering as a summer camp soccer coach with SWB in Oakland, CA. The Soccer Without Borders soccer camp was a highlight both of my summers and those of the many incredible children I got to know and coach. In Oakland the camps brought together students who had found their way to California from all parts of the world, We had students from Myanmar, Liberia, Somalia, Sudan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, to name just a few. While their love for soccer brought these children together, SWB's camp was about so much more than soccer. We had activities that helped the kids build community and trust across cultures and languages. Inside the comfortable and safe space of a soccer field, the students also learned more English, found new friends, and discussed how to live a healthy lifestyle, physically and mentally, in their city and neighborhoods. I've watched as SWB has grown and been able to provide more and more opportunities for support in summer and throughout the year. For the fortunate refugees and newcomers who have access to SWB, the organization now provides robust support to them and their families year round.

My favorite moments with SWB always include seeing kids from totally different parts of the world, who share a history of turbulence, upheaval, and trauma, bonding together, laughing, and finding joy in their new home country. This doesn't happen by accident. SWB is so conscientious about how they train their staff and volunteers to run great youth programs and also how to be refugee/newcomer/trauma sensitive. I've also had the chance to see what an impact SWB can make for students over many years. I rejoice when I see that students who I coached almost 10 years ago, who could hardly speak a word of English and felt very shy, are now coaches themselves - helping to promote a program that helped them.

Soccer Without Borders is an incredible nonprofit that is doing amazing work with some of the most vulnerable youth in our country.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was an intern at SWB Baltimore's elementary/middle school program this summer. The experience, to say the least, was incredible. SWB Baltimore does such an amazing job of running this program so that all the kids are getting the absolute most out of it. Not only do they coach the kids in soccer, they teach them core values that instill skills and qualities that these extraordinary kids are able to carry over into other aspects of their life. I am so lucky and grateful to have gotten this opportunity, and hope to continue my involvement with this organization in the future!

Client Served

Rating: 5


The Fighting Illini soccer team recently partnered with the Soccer Without Borders program for an amazing 10 day trip to Nicaragua. We were able to host clinics and work with young children and schools in Granada. The Illini also had the opportunity to spend a few days in Managua where the team had the opportunity to train with and compete against the Nicaragua Women's National team and the Nicaragua U-20 Women's National team. In addition to their time on the field, the Illini had some time to explore some of the beauty that the Nicaragua landscape has to offer. Below, the squad reflects on their time in Nicaragua. You can see from the athletes comments below it was an incredible life experience for the players. I can not thank SWB enough for facilitating this amazing experience and for the work that they do empowering young women in Granada and around the world. THANK YOU!!!!!

Kelly Maday
"Our 10-day trip to Nicaragua was an incredibly eye-opening experience. From the moment we arrived in Granada, the local girls and families generously opened up their hearts and homes to us. Although most of us are not the best Spanish speakers, the language of soccer was able to bring us together to form friendships full of smiles and laughter. The way these girls displayed their passion and love for the game left me feeling excited for the following day's adventure. The shared experience of soccer not only introduced us to some talented Nicaraguans, but this journey brought us closer together as a team. The bonds forged with the Fighting Illini Soccer team and these inspiring girls and women will be remembered for the rest of our lives."

Jaelyn Cunningham
"I am very grateful for this experience, I think we grew as individuals and as a team. I hope we had as much of an impact on the kids' lives as they made on ours. Also, I cannot thank the Soccer Without Borders staff enough for their hospitality."
"Hopefully we can contribute to growing their passion for the game" -Jaelyn Cunningham

Darci Dietrich
"Our trip to Nicaragua was amazing. It was amazing to see the passion and love of the game in the children's eyes, and it reminded me why I started playing soccer in the first place! Despite the language barrier between us, it was so cool to see how the kids' faces would light up when we interacted with them, it's amazing how just a little bit of time can have such an impact on others. It was also such a unique experience to get to train with and compete against the National team and share our collective passion of the game!"

Kara Marbury
"Getting to travel to Nicaragua in general was quite an experience, but getting to travel there with a program (SWB) that focuses on the empowerment of girls, was an even greater experience. The early mornings and long days were well worth it, in exchange for the smiles we got to put on the faces of the young girls in the program. From living in home stays, to playing the U20 and Nicaraguan Women's National Teams, to touring the city, we were able to fully immerse ourselves in a culture that is much different than our own."

Patricia George
"I had a wonderful experience in Nicaragua with both the Illini soccer team and the staff and the kids in the Soccer Without Borders program. It was really fun just to go out and see the smiles on the children's faces when we practiced and played pick-up games with them. This trip made me realize how fortunate I really am, and I couldn't be anymore grateful for the experience."
"Even though Illini Soccer is leaving Nicaragua, Nicaragua will never leave our hearts."

Lauren Ciesla
"I had an incredible experience in Nicaragua! Having the opportunity to use the platform of soccer to encourage and empower young girls was special to be a part of. I hope that we were able to touch and impact the lives of the people we came in contact with because I know I left Nicaragua changed forever in a positive way."

Lauren Smitherman
"On the 10th day in Nicaragua, I took some time to reflect on our trip while kayaking. During that time, I was just reminiscing on the week and really taking it all in. I realized that, yes, it was tough at times but this trip was something I will never forget and hopefully I will come back. Writing this, I already miss the smiling faces of the girls, and Pablo and Nicholas from the neighborhood. These people have very little but are always happy and smiling. I remember one time Pablo and Nicholas came to Tres Pisos and hadn't even eaten lunch yet. They were hungry, but were still smiling, laughing and joking like they had not a care in the world. I want to come back here and potentially take a larger role in helping and changing the lives of others."

Sarah Warren
"I had such an amazing time experiencing the culture and beauty of Nicaragua with the team! Working with the kids was, by far, my favorite part because you saw how a simple action went such a long way. These kids showed such a love for the game that inspired all of us to not only try to see the best in every situation, but also reconnect with the love for the game within ourselves!"

Katie Murray
"Nicaragua was an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience. Hearts were touched, friends were made, and new perspectives were obtained, all while sharing our love for soccer."

Lexi Carrier
"Nicaragua provided us with an unforgettable experience. The country as a whole has opened our eyes to so much more. Even though the Soccer without Borders girls spoke a different language, we were all able to share laughs and smiles while playing the sport we love."

Morgan Maroney
"Nicaragua was a great experience for our team, I think that we really took advantage of the opportunity to empower young women by setting an example during their practices and during our games against the Nicaraguan national teams. I hope that we left a lasting impression in the young girls' minds that will motivate them to continue to pursue their love for soccer."

Arianna Veland
"Nicaragua was a very eye-opening experience. It was amazing to see how the people in Granada and Managua lived their day-to-day lives, and it definitely made me appreciate what I have and the opportunities I have been given."



Volunteer

Rating: 5

Soccer Without Borders is such an amazing nonprofit that is filled with positive energy! I help with SWB Greeley and Zach, Ryan, and Abby are great people who love what they do! They work very hard to help as many kids as they can by giving them a wonderful place to go. I have been helping for almost a year and been a part of helping with the girls practices, working summer camps, and running a tournament. The participants are amazing people and I love being around them! I have learned so much from the girls and I am looking forward to continued involvement in the future!

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Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered with Soccer Without Borders in Nicaragua this January and the program exceeded my expectations. The Nica coaches and girls we worked with were some of the most compassionate people I've ever met. I visited Granada for the T.E.A.M. Camp. It was very clear that the motives of this camp were self improvement, fun, and using soccer as a universal language, not extreme competition like many of the youth soccer camps in the U.S. This experience reminded me of the power of soccer and it truly impacted my life in a positive way. I really miss playing, joking, and working hard with the young players and Nica coaches, and even getting egged on my birthday. Thank you SWB!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The week I spent in Grenada, Nicaragua with SWB was the perfect way to start off the new year. This non-profit helped shift my perspective on life for the better while also bringing so many beautiful people into my life. The experience I had in conjunction with the people I met--between the staff, volunteers, and the youth that we worked with--has made such a difference on my life. I learned so much about myself and others through SWB and would recommend this nonprofit to anyone!

Madeline B.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This incredible non-profit has shifted my life for the better. I participated in T.E.A.M. camp and met the most incredible human beings I have had the pleasure of meeting. Going to Nicaragua was one of the best experiences of my life. The staff and the board are very grateful to their volunteers for the work that they do. I would go back to Nicaragua tomorrow if I could. As volunteers we had so much to do and there were so many kids to spend time with! It was so much fun and I love the mission of Soccer Without Borders.

Doug48

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been involved with Soccer Without Borders (SWB) for several years. I volunteered in Nicaragua in 2012 and most recently at the Kampala Uganda annual Youth Festival. Both times, I was truly moved at the passion and dedication of the staff and volunteers. As a professor of sport sociology, I study organizations that use sport as a tool for development. I can state unequivocally that SWB is a leader in this field. This leadership is evident by the numerous grants and awards SWB has received. SWB has a clear mission with specific outcomes that are continuously measured. I am proud to be associated with such a great organization and look forward to my next volunteer opportunity.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Soccer Without Borders is an incredible nonprofit that has changed the lives of so many. After volunteering with them my junior year of high school, I really saw the magic of the camps and clinics they put on, and how much power there is in sports. SWB's camps provide under-served youth a place to exercise, unwind and forget outside pressures, and grow confident and learn numerous life lessons. This nonprofit is doing absolutely incredible things for these youth!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Soccer has the power to bring people from diverse backgrounds together to bond over a
common interest. Soccer Without Borders is a wonderful organization that harnesses that quality for the benefit of Boston's youth. As a coach, I've watched the players start the program playing as individuals and finish playing as a team. The kids build confidence,
establish long-lasting friendships, and learn to respect each other and different cultures, all while having a lot of fun. Soccer Without Borders is an asset to the community.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I love volunteering with SWB! As a coach, I've never been a part of an organization with such a positive philosophy toward its players. It is not only extremely refreshing, but also perfectly on mission as a community who wants to use the game of soccer to build up young people, many of whom have had lots of reasons to feel torn down. As the founder of a different nonprofit organization, I know that culture trumps slogans every time. SWB has created a culture worthy of its mission to our cities' most at-risk young people, each of which feel loved and valued at SWB.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I began helping out this organization six months ago, after learning about the charity while helping to tutor students from the Oakland International High School. Soccer without Borders does a phenomenal job of using soccer as a medium to help newly arrived children/students to acclimate to their new home. All of the SWB people I have met are truly committed and incredibly devoted. Their work with the children goes beyond soccer - helping them with their academics, college prep, and general life coaching. I couldn't say enough to convey how this organization helps these kids - I am lucky to be a part of this organization.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been coaching with SWB going on 3 years now, and having worked with dozens of charities throughout my life, I can honestly say they are by far one of my favorites. The influence that this program has on the lives on the players involved cannot be quantified, and the bonds of friendship and togetherness that are built seem unbreakable. In addition to them fulfilling their mission day in day out, the management of the program has been equally impressive. Running programs in four major cities across the United States as well as two in Africa is no small feat, and the SWB team has done an amazing job on all fronts. I hope to continue having the opportunity to be a part of this organization as long as possible.

Marissa A.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is now my second season volunteering with SWB and it has been a great experience. The kids are always so happy to get right into whatever we have planned for them and to see the growth over the past few months has been amazing. The program is so well thought through and really is well positioned to create change in the community given the positive outlet it is providing these children that otherwise may not have this opportunity. It is great to have children active and learning the fundamentals of soccer but also the integral parts of the game like respect and teamwork. The interactions I have with the children are always entertaining and I can see myself volunteering for this organization for years to come!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been a volunteer with SWB for several months now. It's amazing seeing the impact that this program has within the Baltimore communities. The SWB Baltimore staff has done an incredible job of planning and executing meaningful events with the students and their families and friends. The beauty of SWB is that you can witness the results of your work every day whether it be the smiles on the kids' faces or seeing a student get into college!