Mark Kabban founded Yalla SD, an NGO whose mission is to strengthen the social cohesion of refugee youth in the US. Yalla is the only STEM and college preparatory program in California that combines the promise of education and the passion of soccer to inspire refugee youth to achieve their higher education goals. In 2015, Kabban established a college hub for refugee and immigrant youth in San Diego. Yalla's state-of-the-art facility & technology program allows students to work toward mastery, while promoting creative thinking and guiding youth through the college-application process. To date, graduates of Yalla have earned just over $5 million in college scholarships. Yalla has served approximately 2,500 students, 88% of whom have been accepted into universities and 60% of whom pursued STEM majors in college.
Kabban has received recognition for his leadership role at Yalla. In 2011, Do Something.org named Kabban one of the top five young world changers and in 2012, CNN Heroes recognized Kabban as an International Hero. Kabban has spoken at TEDx twice, been featured on BBC, UNHCR, NPR, Disney, and ESPN, and was the commencement speaker at Baker University in Kansas. Kabban received his master’s from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he is currently a doctoral candidate.