Chicago Debates relies on a large network of volunteers—college students, debate alumni, professionals in the community, parents, and teachers—to ensure we are able to host 40+ tournaments a year. There are a variety of ways to get involved at Chicago Debates.
- Academic Debate is life changing for the debaters, but you can benefit too!
- Empower a young person
- Serve as a conscientious educator
- Use your professional skills to support future leaders
- Improve your professional network working with other judges
- Academic service learning opportunity
- Give back
- Build camaraderie with your team/group
Most volunteers will serve as tournament judges. The tournament judge’s role is to make a decision on the winner of debate rounds and provide feedback to the students. No experience is required; we will train you to be an effective judge. Responsibilities include listening to the debate, keeping time, moderating any disputes, and deciding a winner. Volunteers will be provided a stipend and lunch.
There are additional tournament support roles available if you’re interested in serving behind the scenes. You can read about these roles here.
Community Debate Coach
Coach a specific school’s debate team on an ongoing basis. Coaching occurs weekly at the school during school hours, and at six weekend tournaments per year. External coaches can work in either a paid or volunteer capacity. The position requires prescreening as well as a deep commitment to coaching debate. Ongoing training and support are provided by Chicago Debates. Read our community coach guidelines here. Apply to be a community coach here. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis.
Do you have a group interested in volunteering or planning a day of service? Then volunteer with Chicago Debates. Come work with Chicago students to support their skills in policy-making, speech, and critical thinking in a competitive environment. No debate experience needed!
Time commitment varies depending on role. Tournament support roles are expected to be available the entire tournament. Tournament judges may chose which rounds they’d like to work (1-2 hour time slots). We offer $15 – $25 per preliminary round judged and $30 per elimination round judged. Prior to the tournament you will communicate which rounds you’d like to judge with the Volunteer and Outreach Manager. Tournament schedules vary but typically go as follows:
- Middle School Conferences: Saturday 8:00am – 3:00pm
- High School Red and Maroon Conferences: Saturday 8:00am – 4:00pm
- High School Blue and Silver Conferences: Friday 3:00pm – 8:00pm / Saturday 8:00am – 9:00pm (includes elimination rounds)
Limited spots will be available for virtual experienced judges at in-person tournaments. We will also have fully virtual tournaments in December and January. You don’t have to live in Chicago to make an impact on Chicago’s youth!
- You don’t have to have debate experience to volunteer
- All volunteers will have access to a self-paced training course hosted on Google Classroom. This training is a requirement for any new volunteer and is there to make sure volunteers are prepared and comfortable with this new opportunity. There are two different courses depending on what format you’re interested in judging. You do not need to complete both. If you’re unsure about the nuances of these formats, don’t hesitate to drop us a message.
- Each month we’ll host a live training session with the volunteer team. If you’d prefer a live session to our course, register for an upcoming training time below: