CDC Launches Chicago Charter School Urban Debate Initiative 2.0

Just three years ago, only a single charter high school, North Lawndale College Prep, participated in the Chicago Debate League. Two years later, there were six: NLCP, Noble Street College Prep, Rauner College Prep, Urban Prep, Rowe-Clark, and CICS Northtown Academy. Charter high school tournament participation grew over that period from 14 to 268 entries.

These gains were made possible by the Chicago Charter School Urban Debate Initiative (CCSUDI), which is principally funded by the Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation. The CCSUDI provides funding to defray the costs of charter school participation in the CDL, as well as supporting the CDC’s technical and other assistance to charter schools.

Encouraged by the strong growth and development of charter schools involvement in the CDL, we are pleased to announce CCSUDI 2.0, which is also sponsored by the Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation. The new initiative has two features. First, it aims to expand the number of participating charter schools from six to ten. If this target is reached, then fully 14 percent of the CDL would be comprised of charter schools. The second goal is to increase by 15 percent the number of students per school who participate.

CCSUDI 2.0 will provide a financial subsidy for each charter school participating in the CDL. The level of support is highest for new schools, who need it the most, and is gradually reduced as charter schools continue their participation in the CDL and over time can identify their own sources of funding. The CCSUDI 2.0 will also provide targeted technical assistance to charter school coaches and debaters during the season to help ensure the school’s program is developing successfully.

“We greatly appreciate the strong support of the Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation, and look forward to working with them on this new initiative. Charter schools are an extremely important part of the CDL and their participation would be challenging without the valuable help of the Foundation,” said Les Lynn, Executive Director of the CDC.

Junior Lisette Garcia, from Noble Street College Prep, a CCSUDI 2.0 participant, reflected on her opportunity to debate. “There was one instance where I truly fell in love with debate. It was the second tournament of the year and I made the Quarter-Finals. I was affirmative, running our case, giving it all I’ve got. We lost that debate, and I started to cry. I realized then how much I truly love debate. I love the way my adrenaline pumps up so high. I realized that debate is the only sport where I can yell to the top of my lungs and the other team has to listen. … Debate has shown me, taught me, that I have something meaningful to say.”