At Propeller, giving back to the community is a meaningful part of our culture. Through our Uplift program, we leverage the business acumen of our consultants to support the needs of nonprofit organizations. Our goal is to make a lasting impact and uplift nonprofit partners through strategy, professional development, or direct service.

Check out our other featured partners in the Uplift Community Partner Series.

Soccer Without Borders

As we approach the end of the year, a time many of us focus on giving, we reached out to some of our Uplift partners to learn more about their mission, and what seasonal giving means to them. Were featuring our conversation with Mary McVeigh Connor at Soccer Without Borders.

Q: Can you tell us about the mission of Soccer Without Borders and your role within the organization?

Soccer Without Borders uses soccer as a vehicle for positive change, providing underserved youth with a toolkit for growth, inclusion, and personal success. Our primary focus areas are newcomer-refugee and immigrant youth, and marginalized girls. With 1 in every 95 people in the world displaced, finding ways to support newcomers is one of the most pressing issues of our time. Soccer is uniquely suited to support social inclusion for newcomers; nearly everywhere you go in the world, you’ll find soccer uniting communities and bringing joy and friendship to young people.

Since I first kicked a ball when I was three, I’ve seen first-hand how “the beautiful game” can be used as a tool to support individual personal growth, self-expression, school engagement, social inclusion, and more, while also shaping communities to be more equitable and inclusive. In particular, as a former professional player, I’ve experienced how sport can be a catalyst to change attitudes and perceptions toward women and girls and open doors to opportunities in education, career, and society. Yet, this transformative version of sport is not a given; it takes intentionality and purpose to make sure that young people experience these benefits.

As Co-Founder and Executive Director of Soccer Without Borders, my role is to drive our strategic goals, oversee our growth and sustainability as a non-profit organization, and maximize our impact across all programs, making sure that we live our values and create safe spaces for young people to thrive. Full disclosure: I also make it my personal mission to score at least one goal every time I visit a SWB matter how old I get I need to keep the kids on their toes!

Q: Where can the community see your team’s work in action?

We are working on the ground every day across seven community hubs in the Bay Area, Greater Boston, Greeley and Aurora Colorado, Baltimore City and County, Granada, Nicaragua, and Kampala, Uganda. Our programs are year-round, meaning that with few exceptions there are Soccer Without Borders coaches and teams out engaging young people nearly every day of the year. You can also learn more and follow our work online through our website, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn

If you are in the Bay Area and interested in volunteering or getting involved directly, please reach out to us here.

Q: What program are you particularly proud of?

Despite soccer being the world’s game, globally outside of the United States less than 10% of players are girls and women. When girls play sports, they not only strengthen their physical health, build confidence, and gain friendships, but they also demonstrate stronger educational outcomes and build the leadership skills they need to advance in their careers. An Ernst & Young study showed that 94% of C-Suite women leaders have played sports, and over 50% at a university level. Against this backdrop, we are particularly proud of each and every girl that joins SWB, particularly those who come from cultural backgrounds that traditionally exclude girls from sport, and those who are playing on their first-ever team. At Soccer Without Borders, we have doubled down on our efforts to advance gender equity on and off the field and - with the support of the Propeller team - have developed a new program called the Global Goal 5 Accelerator to support other organizations to get more girls in the game and advance women’s leadership within their own contexts. Already, this new program model has supported over 20 organizations across 15 countries to increase girls’ participation, get more women coaches in the lead, and build more gender-equitable organizations.  “Global Goal 5” refers to Sustainable Development Goal 5, Gender Equality, and we believe that sport-based programs can accelerate progress toward this global vision.

Q: Can you tell us the impact seasonal giving has for Soccer Without Borders?

Just like an annual fund to a school or university, Soccer Without Borders relies on the generosity of individual donors through our end-of-year campaign, Play It Forward, to make our programs possible. We serve refugee and immigrant youth and marginalized girls who live in some of the world’s most vulnerable and underserved areas. Many of the teenagers in our programs also work other jobs or have significant domestic responsibilities to support their families. We design our program to be an extension of a young person’s holistic education, and provide our services free of cost to all participants. Through our partnerships with school districts, schools, local governments, local foundations, and in-kind donations of equipment, facilities, and other key resources, we are able to offset over 80% of our costs. Individual donors fill that gap, and our Play It Forward campaign represents over 50% of our annual fund. 

If you’d like to make a tax-deductible donation to Soccer Without Borders, click here.

Q: What else should our readers know?

Just like in soccer, it takes a team to win a championship! We are incredibly grateful for the support of the Propeller team members who donated their time and skills to help us think through some of our biggest growth challenges and develop new tools to support our scalability in the future.

About Uplift

At Propeller, giving back to the community is a meaningful part of our culture. Through our Propeller Uplift program, we leverage the business acumen of our consultants to support the needs of nonprofit partner organizations. Our goal is to make a lasting impact and uplift organizations through strategy, professional development, or direct service.

Serving our local communities has been a focus since Propeller started in 2012. What started as a small group of enthusiastic founding members with a vision for our firm’s community involvement has evolved into an established and award-winning team program.