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Meet Alix Holder of Athletes Without Borders in the Greater Boston Area

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alix Holder.

Alix, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Our organization, Athletes Without Borders, was founded in 2012. We got our start as ambassadors for American Football in Central America. Most notably, our marquee event which we host and sponsor every year, is the Tropic Bowl. The Tropic Bowl is a football exhibition event that takes place in San Jose, Costa Rica, which matches semi-professional football stars from American against the Costa Rican National (American) Football Team.

This year, on May 19th, 2018, we will kick off the eighth Tropic Bowl event that we’ve held in Costa Rica. In the last 5 years, we’ve experience some exciting growth via the inclusions of a Junior Tropic Bowl game for youth participants, a Women’s Tropic Bowl game which matches the top Central American Women’s (American) Football Association teams against each other, and as of last year, we included exhibition events for Fencing, Yoga and Cricket.

Throughout our time in Central America, we’ve made a point to spend more and more giving back to the local communities that host us by visiting schools, volunteering at hospitals and community centers, and hosting health and wellness seminars. Through these initiatives and programs, we have been able to really see the impact that we’re having on these communities overall and especially on the youth from within those communities.

In 2016, we decided to expand our focus as an organization and begin to develop programs and initiatives that impacted youth domestically, here in the United States. Learning from our experiences abroad, we aimed to use create programs that will empower youth through athletics. We use non-traditional sports with STEM curriculum to engage youth to explore the boundaries beyond their known capabilities.

To date, we’ve concentrated our effort in our organization’s two “home bases”, Boston and Washington D.C. We have a great partnership with Microsoft where we host Hour of Coding Workshops for students ranging from K-12 grade levels and here in Boston, we work directly with two Boston Public Schools hosting pilot programs for our Sports and STEM curriculum. At the William Monroe Trotter School in Roxbury we held an afterschool program that was focused on teaching introductory coding principles and concepts to their students and at the Young Achievers Science and Math Pilot School in Mattapan we offer many programs, including fencing classes and a financial literacy course that we run with our partner Citizen’s Bank.

Has it been a smooth road?
It has not been a smooth road. A lot of the programs that we run are in conjunction with other organizations and they’re in other states and countries, so there are many inherit difficulties with just coordinating all the moving elements. Fortunately, us (knock on wood), we’ve built many great relationships that have helped us overcome obstacles. One great partnership that we’ve made is with our lead fencing instructor in Boston, Cesar Morales of the International Fencing Club in West Roxbury. We also been extremely fortunate to have great relationships with the facilities of our pilot schools, its truly been a collaborative effort working with them to develop curriculum that best servers their student bodies.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
At Athletes Without Borders we have a mantra of No Limits, No Borders and we try to instill those principles into everything that we do. Our goals for Boston are to continue to grow our existing programs while we look for new opportunities to promote education through sports and STEM. We’re proud of the progress that we’ve made so far but there’s so much more that can be done to provide positive and impactful experiences to youth in the city. We’re excited about the prospects of continuing our work with the Boston Public School System to see how we can continue help supplement the resources that they currently provide to Boston’s youth. We are also actively looking for gaps in the educational system that we can provide a fresh perspective on. We have some big plans for the growth of our programs this year and we’re really looking forward to offering some creative solutions to some of the more difficult problems that Boston’s youth face today.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Boston has been a great city for us to call home. There’s so much opportunity here as it related to sports and education and there’s a ton of resources available to any non-profit or entrepreneur just starting out. Finding that starting point can be overwhelming, we took our time examining the landscape of the city before we kicked off our first set of initiatives and we’re still learning and adjusting as we go.

How can the city improve, provide more affordable public parking… please!!!

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