NAUDL supports urban debate leagues with help from FBB members


NAUDLThe National Association for Urban Debate Leagues, our second-quarter 2012 education beneficiary, gave us this report about how they are using the funds contributed by members of Foundation Beyond Belief. Members donated $7,205 to NAUDL last quarter.

Thank you very much for your recent grant award of $7,205 reflecting the contributions of your members. We appreciate the contribution, which will help support programs that strengthen urban debate leagues nationally. Your generous financial support of the NAUDL helps create opportunities through urban debate programs for young people in underperforming urban schools.

Former debaters, parents, coaches, and teachers all know that the chance to participate and excel in debate is an opportunity to succeed. Debaters have better attendance, better grades, and fewer disciplinary reports within our urban schools. Young people involved in urban debate have higher standardized test scores and they are significantly more likely to graduate from high school than their non-debating peers. Debaters who go on to college are much better prepared academically, having worked to develop valuable research, writing, listening, argumentation, and communication skills—skills critical for success in college, graduate school, and in their future professional careers.

A new study in the Journal of Adolescence (2012) by Susannah Anderson and Briana Mezuk shows that among adolescents who are most at risk of not graduating high school, participation in debate leads to significantly higher graduation rates and better grades and ACT scores. 

Anderson and Mezuk compared academic results for debaters against those of non-debating students, based on risk indicators that measure poverty (free lunch status, neighborhood poverty) and learning challenges (special education status, low 8th grade standardized test scores).

Overall, debaters were three times more likely to graduate than non-debaters. The most dramatic difference was seen among the highest risk students, with 72% of debaters graduating compared with 43% of student who did not debate.

The study also measured the impact of intensity of participation (number of rounds debated) and competitive success (ratio of wins to total rounds debated) on academic performance. Not surprisingly, both quantity and quality of participation significantly increased the likelihood of graduation and performance on the ACT.

The evidence regarding the impact of learning and competing in debate is compelling—yet across all 19 urban debate leagues in the United States, we are reaching just over 5,000 students each year. Your gift of support will help the NAUDL and our local leagues reach and engage more students.

Urban debate is one of the best investments you can make to support young people in our public schools—each dollar is leveraged with funding from national sponsors, local school systems, private foundations, and other partners.

Your support helps create opportunities for young debaters. Thank you for your contribution and for your faith in the NAUDL to be an effective steward of your gift. 

Sincerely yours, 
Linda Listrom, Executive Director
National Association for Urban Debate Leagues