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Our History

In 2011, less than 1% of schools and 1% of students in New York City had access to debate education opportunities. This was an educational travesty. Since Ancient Greece, debate has been one of the most rigorous academic programs to prepare students for college, career and civic success. So in 2011, NYC school teachers came together to change these statistics and the New York City Urban Debate League was founded – the first and only debate league in all of New York to provide debate education programs to all.  Starting in 2011 in a single classroom in the Bronx –  the New York City Urban Debate League (NYCUDL) has rapidly expanded and today is the largest citywide debate league in the United States.

In 2012, the NYCUDL partnered with the National Association of Urban Debate Leagues (NAUDL) to bring a national network of debate education resources to New York City. The NYCUDL also partnered with the Brown Rudnick Public Interest Foundation to bring national travel opportunities to top NYC debaters. Since 2011, the Brown Rudnick Travel Debate Team has won top awards in regional, state, and national championship tournaments.

In 2013, the NYCUDL was honored by the White House, National Institute for Museum and Library Studies, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Arts as the nation’s top after school program. The NYCUDL also partnered with the New York City Department of Education’s Middle School Quality Initiative (MSQI) to bring curricular and extracurricular debate opportunities to over 100 schools.

In 2014, the NYCUDL partnered with the National Speech and Debate Association to bring some of the best national speech and debate resources to all NYC youth. The NYCUDL also partnered with Intelligence Squared which hosts monthly adult public debates and brings in the top experts across the world. NYCUDL students study these same topics, and meet topic experts across the country.

In 2015, the NYCUDL will be doubling the number of schools and students in NYC participating in debate in every borough. Our mission is that every school should have a debate team and every student should have access to the best debate education opportunities.