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2017 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 1800 youth from 59 countries across our domestic and international programs. Additionally, SWB engaged thousands of community members and families 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). 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 2016-17, 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 2016-2017. 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: 1800

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

0 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


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.