City Council District #39 Debate Initiative

Our Mission

Every school  should have a debate team. Every student should have access to the best debate education opportunities. Debate is one of the best academic programs to prepare students for college, career, and civic success.



Tournaments Hosted


Our flagship program is our Saturday Debate Tournaments. We host debate tournaments every month during the school year and summer for high school and middle school students. Each monthly debate tournament will feature different topics including current events, economics, environmental affairs, philosophy, international politics, law and justice, and every other topic - topics traditionally not covered in school curriculums.  Students practice every academic skill preparing for these tournaments including reading, writing, researching, listening, practicing, public speaking, questioning, team work, and every other academic skill.  Academic learning time basically doubles through this out of school time program and culminates with the monthly debate tournament. At each tournament we serve over 300 students, teachers, family members and volunteers. Tournaments are all day from 7:00am-5:00pm and include breakfast, lunch, debate rounds and an awards ceremony.  Our Tournaments are free thanks to City Council support.


Middle School Tournament @ Berkeley Carroll Middle School


Berkeley Carroll hosts the first middle school tournament of the school year. There are over 200+ total participants including over 200 students and 100 adults (parents, teachers, judges, families and community volunteers)


Tournament Photo Album


Website Landing Page of the Tournament


Tournament Results Page



District Schools and Students Served


Half of our work is debate tournaments every Saturday. The other half of our work is how we support our teachers, schools and students through outreach and starting and sustaining debate programs in schools. We have outreach coordinators in each Borough to support schools, train teachers, provide curriculum and professional development, coordinate local debate scrimmages, year round virtual support (webinars, emails, phone calls, etc), help teachers recruit and start debate programs at their school, and anything else needed to start and sustain a successful debate team. We provide assistant coaches and volunteers to schools to support their debate programs. We have all day teacher training conferences at least four times a year.


As a result we have successfully partnered with the following schools in the district to help create sustainable and successful debate programs through year round support:


Schools Served:


Berkeley Carroll School


Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies



Special Awards & Recognition


Berkeley Carroll is one of the most successful debate programs in the city, state and nation.



Other District Debate Programs


Debate Club.   All students are able to participate in our debate programs. We have a Debate Club that serves students without debate teams at their schools. 


Travel Team. We provide travel scholarships to the District’s top debaters to compete at the nation’s top tournaments which include: Harvard University, Yale University, Princeton University, Georgetown University, Rutgers University and other top tournaments. We also provide monthly practice sessions for the Travel Team.  We pay for all expenses for students including tournament registration, travel, meals and any other fees.