First Hike 6

Who We Are

Ascend is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization that fosters unity, teamwork, and leadership skills through exceptional athletic achievement. We work with young women and men in countries in conflict. Ascend’s mission is to help youth develop the self-confidence and skills that will enable them to lead their communities toward a more secure, just and productive future. Ascend was formed with the belief that, working together, young people can play a central role in the nation’s transition from war to peace.

Based in the United States, Ascend has a country office in Afghanistan where its first program is currently underway.

Learn more about our inaugural program in Afghanistan  

What We Do

Within the peacebuilding and development sectors, there is growing recognition of sport as a powerful approach for engaging and working with at-risk youth and children emerging from war. By its very nature, sport is about participation and inclusion. Used correctly, it teaches collaboration and teamwork, bridges divides and promotes attitudes of acceptance and mutual understanding. The end goal is for youth participants in Ascend programs to become more empowered in themselves, more adept at working in teams and more resilient to their environments.

Ascend takes this proven methodology a step further by designing training programs that prepare teams for extraordinary athletic achievement. Our approach expands the impact of each program by harnessing the power of media to tell the story, spreading the news of our teams’ accomplishments and providing inspiration to others.


Where We Work

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAscend works in transition and fragile environments. These are places that are emerging from crisis or conflict and are marked by extreme disruption but also new opportunities. Every development is unique but all share certain characteristics that have a profound effect on a young person’s life and ability to transition into adulthood.

Because of their complexity, transition environments do not lend themselves to a one-size-fits-all approach to working with youth. Programs that work exclusively in one sector—education, employment, civic engagement—can also fall short of providing young people with the foundational skills they need to be successful stewards of themselves both in the present and going forward. At Ascend, all our programs are geared to build the hope, dignity and resilience of young women and men.

We believe that success is more likely when young people believe that their tomorrow will be better than today, when their creativity, optimism and activism is a conduit for greater personal dignity and when they have the skills, structures and relationships to enable them to positively work through whatever challenges they face.