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2019 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 with 2300 youth from 68 countries across our domestic and international programs. Additionally, SWB engaged nearly 5,000 thousand additional youth through outreach and one-day 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 2017. 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, 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

58 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

K. Paige Wheeler F.

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.

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!

1

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!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Going into this program I had no idea what to expect, but when I arrived in Granada I soon realized that my one week stay was going to be better than I had ever hoped. The love the girls had for the program was like nothing I had ever seen before and it was easy to tell how much Soccer Without Borders meant to them. All of the staff and girls welcomed me with open arms and the dedication of the staff was amazing. My experience with SWB opened my eyes and when I arrived back in the U.S. after only one week with the organization, I felt like a completely changed person. I cannot think of the past summer without reminiscing of this amazing experience.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Soccer Without Borders is an incredible charity that benefits anyone who comes in contact with the organization. Soccer has the power to bring people of all backgrounds together. Soccer Without Borders is a well organized program. In Nicaragua, the head directors and coaches are very passionate about the program and work extremely hard to make sure all the girls have everything they need. As a volunteer, I was able to learn more about the Nicaraguan culture and experience the girls passion to play. It was an incredible experience and I recommend getting involved with this charity in any way possible.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I happened to stumble upon a Soccer Without Borders application when a teammate told me that she had applied in the previous month. I applied for the program not knowing that this program would lead to an experience that would have a lasting impact on my life. I embarked on my first international journey and I am so happy that it was to Granada, Nicaragua. The hidden beauty in the houses, streets, culture, and people there have stole my heart and make me want to go back very soon. After returning to the states, that was when I realized how many girls I inspired on my trip. I would recommend Soccer Without Borders to everyone and anyone.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

No words can describe how incredible this experience has been. I will hopefully continue to be a part of this amazing program because it carries so much greatness. Not only do you become a part of a program that gives hope, attention, love, etc. to young girls but those young girls also give you all those things and more. I am so thankful I found Soccer Without Borders.

Review from Guidestar

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Hello,

I have been volunteering for Soccer Without Borders for about 2 years as a coach now and have coached various age groups and teams. I started with the elementary school program, then coached the U14 girls and am now coaching the U12 boys.

Throughout my time coaching I noticed how this program is really making a difference in East Boston. The kids are becoming more integrated, engaged, and confident. Not only on the field but also off the field.

The Boston office is run by a group of awesome, organized, and enthusiastic people who have become dear friends of mine. Volunteers are being well prepared for the coaching seasons and regular feedback and brainstorming sessions help improve the experience.

Coaching kids is both challenging and incredibly rewarding. You learn a lot, not only about the kids but also about yourself. I can only recommend to anyone who has even the slightest interest in soccer to volunteer for such a great organization like Soccer Without Borders!

Sebastian

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Soccer Without Borders provides a welcoming and friendly environment for kids who are navigating very new surroundings. Through soccer, there is not only the opportunity to learn new skills, get outside and be active but also to make new friends and create community with students from all different backgrounds. The staff and coaches encourage their teams on the field as well as off, and are sources of support throughout the school year. It's been a privilege to be a volunteer coach, and is truly a highlight of my week.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.