We partner with Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to provide 6th to 12th grade students with programming in competitive academic debate. Our programming deeply engages students with debate, builds their skillsets, and enhances their academic performance. Our core program activities fall into five main categories:
Promoting Debate and Recruiting Schools
Chicago Debates recruits new schools to participate in our debate league and we recruit teachers to serve as coaches. We work directly with school principals and teachers to promote debate, build the debate team, and help school leadership define and achieve their goals around debate.
Coach Recruitment, Training, and Program Monitoring
At full capacity, Chicago Debates employs six full-time program staff members. We achieve our incredible results by leveraging our knowledge through mentoring, coaching, modeling, and professional feedback to 130+ CPS teachers and external coaches. The vast majority of our coaches are classroom teachers, few of whom have prior debate experience. They succeed in enhancing student outcomes through debate because of the Chicago Debates Train the Trainer model that teaches and supports them to be effective coaches. We provide 700+ hours of coach training through multiple mechanisms, including in person technical support visits, one-on-one communications, written materials, and web resources; including videos.
Preparation of Core Debate Materials
Each year, Chicago Debates prepares extensive materials on the current year’s debate topic. These materials provide a “starter kit” for beginner debaters and help to model and focus their learning on high-quality debate argument structure, use of materials for argument refutation, and the proper use of evidence.
Chicago Debates coordinates and operates 40+ tournaments each year. Coordinating these tournaments requires extensive organization, planning, and staff time, including recruiting, training and compensating tournament staff and hundreds of volunteer judges, obtaining and managing facilities, meals, and awards, establishing debate competition pairings, tabulating tournament results throughout the event, and overall tournament administration.
Summer and School-Year Student Training
Each year, we facilitate and offer a two-week summer debate camp, the Chicago Debate Summer Institute, for high school and middle school debaters. Approximately 100-150 students take advantage of this intensive and rigorous learning opportunity, which is offered at a very low cost for low-income students.