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  • Dara Ely, SWB

SWB Baltimore Expands High School Program with Support from Abell Foundation

Soccer Without Borders Maryland has received a $60,000 grant from the Abell Foundation to support its High School Enrichment Program for refugee, asylee, and immigrant

students in Baltimore over the next 16 months. This grant will allow SWB to strengthen and expand its programming to reach up to 100 high school students, with both in person and virtual soccer, tutoring, and College Access sessions.

“SWB’s high school program is the most veteran program in Maryland, and remains one of the most popular and well-attended.” said Emily Sherman, Director - SWB Maryland. "As a community-based program, we serve newcomer youth from a range of high schools across Baltimore City. Youth recruit friends and new neighbors to join the teams regularly, contributing to the success and growth of the program. I am grateful for partners and funders who value our work and recognize the impact both on and off of the field.”

SWB Maryland’s High School Enrichment Program uses soccer as a tool to integrate English Language Development (ELD), encouraging students to learn and practice English in an engaging context. By gaining confidence in English on the soccer field, students transfer those skills to the classroom and SWB assists them as they progress through high school and navigate the college application process. With the help of volunteer tutors, SWB supports students through applications, essays, FAFSA and scholarships. This school year, 16 seniors have already applied and been accepted into colleges, including BCCC, CCBC, McDaniel, Stevenson and Loyola.

The virtual learning environment that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic has presented new challenges for students, especially English Language Learners who are missing out on language skills while learning from home. Throughout the past year, SWB adapted its strategy to reach participants virtually and in small in-person groups for academics and soccer, when possible. This included providing laptops and internet access to help students access remote learning for school and SWB activities. Coaches found new ways to connect with participants through the “Stay Home Season,” which featured virtual practice and fitness sessions, team-building activities, and social impact challenges.

Despite the back and forth between virtual and in-person settings, SWB was able to keep 75 high school students engaged over the past year and maintained a 65% attendance rate throughout the year. With a return to regular scheduling and ongoing support from the Abell Foundation, SWB aims to serve 100 high school students next year through soccer, educational support, and community programming.

SWB Maryland reaches 500 youth each year in grades pre-K-12 with programs that build the foundation for social and academic success that students need to progress through each grade and graduate high school.

About Soccer Without Borders

Soccer Without Borders uses soccer as a vehicle for positive change in the United States and abroad. Soccer Without Borders combines soccer play and instruction with education and community-building activities in a year-round program model that authentically shifts outcomes. Soccer Without Borders’ impact has been recognized by the global FIFA Diversity Award, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Sports Award, and the Wharton School of Business’ Lipman Family Prize.

About the Abell Foundation:

The Abell Foundation is dedicated to the enhancement of the quality of life in Maryland, with a particular focus on Baltimore City. The Foundation is committed to being an agent of change by supporting efforts to solve systemic social, economic and environmental problems; providing research to better inform civic conversation about relevant issues; and investing in new technologies that have the potential to benefit society. The Foundation places a strong emphasis on opening the doors of opportunity to the disenfranchised, believing that no community can thrive if those who live on the margins of it are not included.


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