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In partnership with the University Promise Alliance, the Twin Cities Urban Debate League offers challenging debate opportunities to high school students. The University Promise Alliance is a student-driven initiative to create a sustainable bridge between the University of Minnesota and the community at large. A non-profit organization, it is focused, in part, on developing marketable skills through effective education.

In order to provide training for coaches and students, UDL and the University Promise Alliance will jointly sponsor a one-week institute in late summer, 2003. Second-year participants will have opportunities to attend debate institutes in other parts of the country, including Vermont, New York City, and Atlanta.

The first-year program (2003-2004) will involve four to six schools in Minneapolis and St. Paul. It will focus on providing a high-quality program for approximately 100 students in grades 9-12. Training will be provided for up to two teacher/coach(es) per school. These coaches will partner with a college or university student experienced in debate. Together, they will assist high school debaters in developing their skills.

First-year debaters will compete with one another in 6-7 one-day, three-round tournaments. Those interested in additional competition will participate in novice tournaments sponsored by other schools. Second-year debaters will be given increasing opportunities to debate other teams throughout the state. However, the emphasis of the program will be on participation rather than competition, and we will adapt the program to meet the emerging needs of its debaters.

Students will have access to a resource center that provides books, tapes, computers, databases, and highly skilled assistance in developing cases and evidence. The resource center will provide students with after-school assistance for both homework and debate, and it will provide a community for teen-agers seeking a place to belong.

Rigorously tracking the success of participants will demonstrate the effectiveness of this activity. The program will be expanded to include all inner city schools, and, in the future, the debate format may be incorporated into the standard curriculum as it has been in other cities across the country.

For further information, please contact:
Karon Garen