Chicago Debate League

Chicago Debate League

200 S. Michigan Ave. Suite 1040 Chicago, 60604

Please share your mission. Philanthropy Awards: winner

We envision a world in which Chicago’s youth are empowered to find their voice, succeed in college and career, and become community leaders. We bring our vision to life through the power of debate.

Describe how your organization lives/realizes its mission. 

Our debate programs empower Chicago youth by advancing their educational achievement, community contributions, and life success. Many low-income and minority CPS students lack access to key educational opportunities that are available to their middle and upper income peers from other districts. Recent evidence suggests that lack of access to programs that target secondary literacy skills, which include reading for important details, identifying causal and comparative relationships, and evaluating and drawing conclusions from evidence, significantly contributes to dropout and limits career and civic potential in later life. We bring these vital educational opportunities to CPS students. We target high poverty schools, where we provide intensive professional support, extensive debate materials, and lesson plans designed to make debate accessible for all students, including those who enter debate reading below grade level and those with elevated school and social anxiety. Debate engages these students in a rigorous and fun academic activity that helps them build their voice while extending their learning time. Our students spend an average of 145 out-of-school hours/year on debate—and many spend up to 400 hours/year. Our tournaments bring together students from diverse neighborhoods and school types and reward both participation and achievement. At invitational tournaments, our students experience professional settings and begin to envision themselves as successful adults.

Read The Chicago Debate League’s Philanthropy Awards article here.