We believe youth development is as much an art as it is a science. Our objectives are intentionally broad; "success" – and the pathway to it – will look different for participants in different circumstances. We embrace the journey.
Rather than fixate solely on outcomes, we focus on what we can control: the training of our coaches, the accessibility of our programs, the quality of our activities, the consistency of our implementation, and the safety of our spaces. We codify this process-oriented approach into tools that demonstrate our progress and point to areas for improvement. This approach: evidence-based design + rigorous fidelity to the model + a culture of learning and feedback has led to powerful individual and collective outcomes across multiple countries and contexts.
From our FAMILY coaching framework to our Program Site Rubric to our Hub Health Assessment, we detail how to build inclusive sport environments at different altitudes with youth from diverse cultural backgrounds. These tools aim to ensure that every Soccer Without Borders participant, every Soccer Without Borders space, is one that builds agency, belonging, and contribution in authentic collaboration with the communities we serve.
Learn more about:
Theory of Change
Our evidence-based program design was born out of thousands of hours of programming, hundreds of conversations, and countless pages of research. We synthesized it all into a clear theory of change that puts young people at the center, surrounds them with supportive peers, coaches, and mentors, and draws a throughline from our inputs and activities to our vision of a more inclusive and equitable world, where all youth reach their inherent potential.
At the Coach Level:
The best coaches have the ability to make their team feel like family. Our 'FAMILY' Framework details over 40 specific, observable coach actions across 6 domains that create an inclusive environment that is healing-centered, linguistically-accessible, and skill-building. Created for and by SWB coaches by synthesizing best practices across all Hubs, this framework gives coaches specific guidance on how to create a safe, effective learning space for all youth, regardless of soccer experience, culture, or language level. It focuses on the "how" more than the "what", leaving plenty of space for autonomy and creativity.
Through self-assessments and observations, coaches practice the self-reflection necessary for continual improvement, applying different lenses to their coaching craft. This process does not only support coach learning and program quality, but it also ensures consistency between coaches and across locations. Our goal is that if you were to observe any Soccer Without Borders practice, anywhere in the world, you would see these key, evidence-based coach behaviors happening.
We quantify FAMILY Framework assessments into a four point scale that provides each coach with clear learning objectives, and identifies training needs for our coaching team as a whole.
The demeanor and approach of the coach in relation to the players during the session itself.
Includes the type of soccer and team-building activities, physical fitness, and skill-building components of the session
Those things that happen behind the scenes before and after the session to ensure it runs smoothly, is documented properly, and logistics are taken care of.
Individual and team identities that are fostered through an inclusive and welcoming environment.
The strategies used by the coach to ensure participants have opportunities to develop language skills, either through direct language development activities, or through the coach's facilitation of other activities.
The way that the coach builds relationships with young people and fosters an environment for other positive relationships to form, meeting kids where they are and prioritizing their needs, questions, and suggestions.
At the Site Level:
The SWB Site Rubric is a process-oriented tool strategically designed to monitor the health of our program sites while providing a space for staff to develop new skills, gain confidence, and to feel a sense of ownership over their work.
The tool helps site coordinators and supervisors identify what must be done to maximize SWB's mission and to uncover areas where support is needed most. The process includes touchpoints at the start, middle, and end of each season, and invites program leaders to create a vision for their site while considering the resources available, needs of the community, partner expectations, and past site performance.
The Site Rubric covers four categories – impact, activities, culture, and administration – each of which plays an integral role in ensuring a site can thrive while being safe, sustainable, and effective. The tool was designed in a way to not only provide transparency, accountability, and consistency across program sites, but to also allow coordinators to work together with their leadership team to see their vision come to life.
Explore the interactive framework below to learn more about the four categories that make up the SWB Site Rubric:
By identifying the capacity, youth engagement, and recruitment goals for the site, we can be prepared to meet participants where they are and maximize impact.
The number of unique participants expected, including age range and gender.
The expected engagement rate of participants
How and where prospective participants are recruited
The community need, budget capacity, and agreements with funders
At the Hub Level:
Hub Health Assessments
Taking place annually, the Hub Health Assessment is a collaborative process that takes a 360 degree view inside a Hub's operations, outputs, implementation, and more. This process of reflection and assessment brings together local and organizational leaders, assessing and debriefing specific targets across four 'lanes': Advancement, Programs, People & Culture, and Finance & Operations. Each lane includes "most significant indicators" as well as a dozen or more sub-indicators that contribute toward thriving lanes.
By synthesizing data and performance metrics, we are able to better understand the factors affecting the Hub's health, and identify patterns across the organization. After identifying strengths and areas for improvement, we are able to collaboratively prioritize and create an action plan for improvement.
The Hub Health Assessment does not only serve as an accountability and performance tool, but also strengthens internal communication and put our commitment to continuous learning into practice.
Hub Health Assessment
People & Culture Lane
Most Significant Indicators:
Performance & Positioning
Most Significant Indicators:
Growth & Strategy Lane
Most Significant Indicators:
Transparency & Communciation
Most Significant Indicators:
Risk Level Reduction
Needs Some Attention
Needs Urgent Attention
At the Organizational Level:
Prepared and submitted to the SWB Board of Directors at a minimum of every two years, the Organizational Effectiveness Report ensures accountability to stated goals for delivering on our mission to use soccer as a vehicle for positive change. The report synthesizes plans and results from numerous sources, including strategic plans, monitoring and evaluation results, and financial tools. Some key sources include: monthly activity reports, outputs and outcomes reports, youth surveys, site rubrics, site life cycle data, and our strategic plan.
Hover over a tool below to learn more.
Monthly Activity Reports
Sourced from monitoring data stored on our Trax Solutions database that includes demographic and youth attendance information as well as activity logs. This information is generally collected and recorded by coaches.
Our monitoring and evaluation captains and team synthesize output data to track outcomes such as retention, academic advancement, exits, graduation data, and more. These results are presented in Annual reports. Read our latest Annual Report.
Outputs & Outcomes
Pre & post youth surveys from TEAM program participants, informed by the Social Emotional Learning competencies. Additional questions are added based on key design elements & translated into the five most commonly spoken SWB languages.
Coordination & management tool for coaches & coordinators of TEAM programs that manages program fidelity and implementation quality. This tool sets recommended balance of activities over a complete season, and impact goals. (See above for more)
Site Life Cycle Data
There are seven indicators of health for an SWB site including youth, design, coach quality, funding, community need, safeguarding, & gender balance. Each indicator is evaluated by a subjective and/or objective input and rates a site as either thriving, stable, or at-risk.
Strategic Plan 2026
Our Strategic Plan sets a vision toward 2026 to be a global leader in fostering inclusive communities through innovative youth development programs. It includes three strategic goals that are regularly revisited and broken down into annual goals.
There is no exact formula that, when mixed just so and delivered in the perfect dosage will yield perfectly consistent results with every child in every scenario. Kids react to so many variables, and go through so many ups and downs on the path to becoming who they are. That is part of the beauty of growing up, and what makes defining and measuring "success" so complex.
- Mary Connor, SWB Co-Founder, from Lessons Learned from Standardized Testing, Huffington Post