Promising Practices Program

Administering Organization

Soccer Without Borders

Program Name

Soccer Without Borders

Program Objectives and Unique Needs Addressed

This mission of Soccer Without Borders is to use soccer as a vehicle for positive change, providing newcomer refugee, asylee, and immigrant youth a toolkit to overcome obstacles to growth, inclusion and personal success. With headquarters in Cambridge, MA, Soccer Without Borders works in various locations across the United States, as well as internationally in Nicaragua and Uganda.

Program Description

The Soccer Without Borders (SWB) program has been extremely effective because of its adaptable framework. We respond to the specific needs of a target population and resources within a community by leaving space within our program model for local adaptation. Our team environment is shaped by consistent leaders, dynamic and relevant program activities, and cultural acceptance. SWB activities include soccer, educational support, civic engagement, team building, and cultural exchange, all integrated with English Language Development. In our soccer programming, we provide the equipment, coaching, and transportation needed to help participants of all skill levels learn and grow together through organized practices and games. Educationally, we provide academic and language development support, high school and college preparation, as well as workshops on nutrition, mindfulness, healthy relationships, and any other topic important to the local population. We connect our programs and participants to the local and global community through civic events and team service projects, creating key leadership opportunities off the field. Through team building games, events, and strategies we create a safe, inclusive community that transcends cultural differences. Lastly, cultural exchange is incorporated through our emphasis on dialogue, understanding, and friendship across cultures, which we achieve through intentional activities including the use of grouping strategies, themed events, and mentor placements.

Resource Materials Used in Program

Soccer Without Borders partners use many resources to integrate English Language Development into all aspects of programming, including an SWB ESOL-Integrated Soccer Curriculum. 

Groups Served by Program

SWB serves newcomer refugee, asylee and immigrant youth in the U.S. SWB participants come from over 60 countries throughout the world.

Program Funding

Soccer Without Borders is funded primarily through foundation grants. Year-round donations also support the program.

Program Staffing and Required Staff Training

Program Evaluation

Program effectiveness is evaluated through participant surveys and home visits with the participant families. SWB monitors implementation based on the logic model that underpins our program design, ensuring that our work is contributing to the outcomes identified as targets by programs in partnership with the community. Additionally, the organization evaluates performance according to a comprehensive program rubric, which measures our progress toward our goals for quality, accessibility, sustainability, reach, and impact each year. In 2014, Soccer Without Borders, as a whole, had 1,279 youth enrolled in core, seasonal, and camp programs that offered 3,900 hours of free programming. An additional 2,622 youth were reached through community events and gym classes. None of this would have been possible without the help of more than 400 volunteers who served as coaches, mentors, tutors, drivers, and interns.

Program Outcomes

 By participating in Soccer Without Borders, our youth adjust, grow, and thrive in their new communities. They enhance their communication skills by practicing and developing English language competency on a daily basis. They form familial bonds with other participants, which creates a safe space for these children in a new and often intimidating new environment. Many participants stay with the program throughout middle school and high school and continue on into higher education. Nationally, SWB participants graduate high school at a rate of 95%, far exceeding the national average for newcomer youth. Our participants take on leadership roles, often gaining their first work experience through SWB programs or partners. Participants gain confidence through participation, as inclusion and positivity are ingrained in the program culture. Soccer Without Borders plans to continue to expand our impact and serve newcomer youth both nationally and internationally.

Additional Comments

Program Contact

Mary McVeigh
Executive Director
Soccer Without Borders

Program Dates

Soccer Without Borders was founded in 2006 and is still operating as of 2016.