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Refugee &
Newcomer Youth

The global displacement crisis has surpassed a projected 100 million people worldwide. It continues to be  one of the most urgent social issues of the 21st century. Refugee and asylum-seeking youth are fleeing some of the world's most challenging and protracted conflicts, seeking safety, stability, and opportunities to build new home. 

Soccer can be a home. The world's game has the power to create belonging. Soccer Without Borders serves youth from over 70 countries of origin speaking more than 50 distinct languages. Our evidence-based program design and trauma-informed coaching strategies create a space of healing, of belonging, and of new beginnings.

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Newcomers in the USA

Every newcomer has a their own unique story to tell.  Regardless of the circumstances that lead to their arrival in the United States, all newcomers are immediately faced with a vast number of challenges which can often feel insurmountable.

This is where Soccer Without Borders comes in. By leveraging soccer, the world's global language, newcomers have the opportunity to plug into a safe and welcoming space where, not only do they have the chance to play soccer, but also find community, build friendships, receive language and academic support,  connect to local resources, and much more. 

A girl in a head scarf and SWB t-shirt smiles as she looks on.

Education

English Language Learners in the United States graduate from high school at a rate of 63%, compared to the overall national rate of 82% (NPR)

SWB maintains a >93% high school graduation rate for regular participants in our USA programs.

Language

Struggling with English speaking and comprehension makes it difficult for newcomers to make friends and can make them a target for bullying. (BRYCS)

At SWB, English Language Learners receive 8-15 hours of language practice outside of school.  Activities take place in a variety of different contexts, maximizing exposure to vocabulary.

Isolation

Loneliness and isolation is a factor within most studies on refugee health. Language skill, discrimination, and poverty can contribute to social isolation. (Hynie M)

SWB coaches utilize a variety of trauma-informed, evidence-based tools and strategies to make sure that every participant feels seen, connected, and valued.

Mental Health

A refugee adolescent in the US is up to 12 times more likely than a native-born peer to experience major depression. (NIMH)

Mentoring relationships can have a significant impact on psychosocial development. In FY21 alone, 2,800 total 1-on-1 hours took place between SWB coaches and participants.

*Hover over a category to learn SWB's Approach

Impact by the Numbers

Most Recent Year

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2,500+

refugee and newcomer youth served annually in USA programs

94%

of our participants report feeling comfortable 'being themselves' while at SWB

15:1

average trained coach to participant ratio across SWB programs in the USA

92%

of our participants report feeling comfortable using English while at SWB.

Students who attended SWB regularly were 10 times less likely to miss school than their peers who did not.

Palo Alto University Dissertation Findings

Newcomers in East Africa

With over 1.4 million refugees in the country and an estimated 100,000+ refugees living in the city of Kampala alone, Uganda is home to one of the largest populations of refugees in the world. Primarily arriving from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), South Sudan, Eritrea, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Burundi, many refugee families have experienced a traumatic journey prior to arrival in Kampala.

At SWB, we adapt the services of each Community Hub to ensure we are addressing the unique needs of the youth we serve. In Uganda, the vast majority of our participants have fled the DRC, choosing to forego the border refugee settlements in pursuit of economic opportunities in the city of Kampala. SWB Uganda is specifically designed to support healing from trauma and intensive English language learning to support youth participants overcome the obstacles to formal schooling, employment, and healthy identity development.

A boy at SWB Uganda writes in a notebook as he looks up at the camera.

Education

48% of refugee children remain out of school. Just 68% of refugee youth enroll in primary school, 34% in secondary school, and 5% in tertiary education. (UNHCR)

Our Uganda hub provides over 100,000  hours of direct programming annually. With 65% alumni staff, SWB Uganda ensures youth have the tools they need to navigate a rapidly changing world.

Language

Language barriers remain a great obstacle to refugee integration. Uganda has over 56 native languages, most of which refugees neither speak nor understand. (Journal of Human Rights & Social Work

Our Uganda Hub operates as an informal school, providing free-of-cost accelerated English literacy classes for refugee youth. Over 25% of the youth at the Uganda Hub are attending school for the first time.

Healthcare

Refugees remain among the most vulnerable members of society and often face inadequate or restricted access to mainstream health services. (WHO)

Staff members at SWB Uganda are specifically trained to facilitate lessons on topics such as mental health, menstruation management, combating the stigma of HIV, and more. 

Gender Equity

Evidence shows high prevalence of mental health disorder among women refugees in comparison to the general population. (Systematic Reviews)

Our "Wasichana Hub" offers 4 hours of weekly girls-only programming in addition to leagues, tournaments, and other girl-focused events.  Coaches also implement the "Coaching Boys into Men" curriculum, focused on gender-based violence prevention.

*Hover over a category to learn SWB's Approach

Impact by the Numbers

Most Recent Year

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66%

of SWB Uganda coaches are former refugees.

400+

refugee children are served each week at SWB Uganda

45%

of SWB Uganda participants identify as girls

6+

hours of daily activities, 6 days per week for more than 45 weeks of the year.

Impact Highlights

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Baltimore Summer ESOLProgram

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SWB Builds  Bridges for Refugee Children

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World Refugee
Day SWB Spotlight

Additional Resources

The cover of the UNHCR's global report shows a woman walking with her two children.

Read the 2021 UNHCR
Global Trends Report

UNHCR's Global Trends report presents key statistical trends and the latest numbers of refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced and stateless persons worldwide. Read the latest version, published in June 2022, at the link below.