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Bronx/Manhattan Middle School Tournament Results

Thank you to the Anderson School and Computer School for hosting our January middle school tournament for Manhattan and Bronx schools.  24 schools, 263 students, and 128 judges attended the tournament!  Thank you to all our judges, volunteers, staff, teachers,... read more


Thank you to Intelligence Squared for hosting us on January 11th the topic whether policing is racially biased.  “In 2014, the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, set off a wave of protests and sparked a movement targeting racial disparities in criminal... read more

High School Tournament Results!

29 schools, 243 students, 115 judges! Thank you for making this our largest high school tournament ever! Wow!  Thank you everyone for making this tournament possible! Incredible!  Thank you to the Institute for Collaborative Education for hosting the tournament.... read more

Congratulations to Sekou Cisse!

Congratulations to Success Academy High School Debater Sekou Cisse. Sekou reached the final rounds of the Byram High School Debate Invitational yesterday and the Round Robin! Sekou was Top Speaker of the Round Robin (only top teams are invited), UNDEFEATED in... read more

Morgan and Lewis Debate Invitational!

Thank you to Morgan & Lewis for hosting the Harlem Debate Championships! Congratulations to all participants and winners! Shout outs to PS 161, Columbia Secondary, Tyler Beattie and Ari Selman for making everything possible! Click here for Facebook Tournament... read more

Manhattan Borough Championships Results!

Thank you to Manhattan schools for participating in the first Manhattan borough championships tournament! Shout outs to the following schools: Anderson School, Hunter, Yorkville East, Equity Project, Bard High School, Birch Waten Lenox School, School for Global... read more



Our History

In 2011, there were less than ten schools in Manhattan with competitive debate teams. This was an educational travesty because Manhattan if counted as a city would be the sixth largest city and school system in the United States. The mission of the Manhattan Debate League is that every school in Manhattan should have a debate team and every student should have access to the best debate education opportunities.  Thanks to support from the New York City Department of Education and the New York City Council our program is free for Title I schools in Manhattan.

Why Debate

“Competitive debate is one of the great equalizers of educational opportunity.  In a number of respects, competitive urban debate is uniquely suited to building what’s been called the ‘Four C’s’ of 21st century skills—critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity. And to that list I might add a fifth ‘C’— for civic awareness and engagement.” – US Secretary of Education honoring our debaters in Washington DC.  Our debaters won 1st in the nation and visited the White House to meet the President.

Through independent peer-reviewed research we know that urban debate prepares students to succeed in school and in life.

90% of urban debaters graduate on time.

72% of urban debaters with the highest risk of dropping out graduate on time.

Each semester that a student debates, his/her grades will improve.

At graduation, the average GPA of an urban debater is 3.23, significantly above the college readiness benchmark.

Debaters are more likely to test as college ready.

After graduating from high school, 86% of urban debaters enroll in college.

Urban debaters are 80% more likely to graduate from college.

Urban debate prepares students for twenty-first century careers.

Our Accomplishments

Manhattan is home to some of the most successful debate teams in the United States.  Schools such as the Institute for Collaborative Education, Stuyvesant High School, and Regis High School.  Manhattan teams have won city, state, regional and national debate championship tournaments and have been profiled in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Daily News, and television.

Interscholastic Debate Program

Our interscholastic debate program or after school debate program supports school based debate teams. We provide monthly tournaments, workshops, professional development, and any other support to start and sustain successful debate teams. We work with the following schools in the borough: Anderson School, Computer School, Institute for Collaborative Education, Salk School, Stuyvesant High School, Equity Project Charter School, Simon Baruch, TAG, Success Academies, and PS 161.

Curricular Debate Programming

In partnership with the Middle School Quality Initiative we work with schools to implement debate across the curriculum in every subject area.  We work with the following schools in the borough: MS 256 Academic & Athletic Excellence, PS 007 Samuel Stern, Renaissance School of the Arts, Global Neighborhood Secondary School, Thurgood Marshall Academy for Learning and Social Change, JHS 143 Eleanor Roosevelt, and Middle School 322.

Manhattan Debate Tournaments

Our core program are monthly Saturday tournaments.  We provide at least three rounds of debate competitions, workshops, breakfast, lunch and an awards ceremony for all students.

Manhattan Summer Debate Institute

Our debate program is year round. During the summer we offer a free summer debate institute for students.  Our Debate Institute offers a rigorous curriculum of public speaking, research, rhetoric, current events, and public policy. Mornings include lectures on debate skills and topics and afternoons are devoted to small lab groups to practice debate skills.  The debate institute culminates with a summer debate tournament.  The Manhattan Summer Debate Institute is our largest summer debate camp with several weeks of instruction for all grade levels – elementary school, middle school, and high school.  We are honored that Hunter College hosts our debate camp each summer at both their undergraduate and graduate schools.

Manhattan Travel Debate Team

We also support travel scholarships for the top high school debaters. This allows students the opportunity to travel and compete at some of the top tournaments on the East Coast including Harvard University, Yale University, and other out of state and national tournaments.

Manhattan Outreach

We have a program director and outreach staff who visit schools to help train teachers who are new to debate and start and sustain successful debate programs.

New York City Urban Debate League Citywide Programs

All our programs throughout the city are available for all students.  We offer tournaments nearly every weekend, workshops and Debate Nights every month, citywide debate invitationals, summer debate institutes in each borough, the New York City Debate Championships, and other debate opportunities year round.



“In this room I’m sure there is a US President, is a Governor of New York, is a US Supreme Court Justice, is the next Steve Jobs, is the next Mozart. That’s the kind of brilliance and enthusiasm and passion that these kids are here today.” – – Fox Executive, Vincent Cordero, Executive of Fox Deportes



“The prizes aren’t just the trophies and the medals, but the knowledge that you will keep with you forever”-Amy Ovando, 8th grade, PS 161


“The Manhattan Debate Institute has been a great help to me.  It has helped me speak better, write better, and socialize better.  I hope that others will gain as much from MDI as I have. Thank You MDI!” – Ifeoluwa



“When I started debate I assumed I would lose. But after one year in debate,I’ve changed a lot. Debate makes me feel alive. I am not afraid to raise my hand in class. I’m an open person. Having debate in my life means havingfreedom. Debate has taught me that sometimes you can rise above. And it brings me hope.”-Feiry Guaba, 7th grade, PS 161



September: Season Kick Off Workshop (Harlem Success Academy West)

October: Manhattan Tournament #1 (Institute for Collaborative Education)

November: Manhattan Tournament #2 (PS 161)

December: Manhattan Tournament #3 (Anderson School & Computer School)

January: All City Fall Championships (Brooklyn Tech)

February: Manhattan Tournament #4 (Institute for Collaborative Education)

March: Battle of the Boroughs Tournament (Bronx Science High School)

April: Manhattan Borough Championships (Simon Baruch & Salk School)

May: City Championships (Institute for Collaborative Education)

Summer: Manhattan Summer Debate Institute (Hunter College)


Manhattan Interscholastic Debate Schools

Anderson School

Computer School


Salk School

Stuyvesant High School

Equity Project Charter School

Simon Baruch


Success Academies

PS 161

Quest to Learn Middle School


Manhattan MSQI Debate Schools

MS 256 Academic & Athletic Excellence

PS 007 Samuel Stern

Renaissance School of the Arts

Global Neighborhood Secondary School

Thurgood Marshall Academy for Learning and Social Change

JHS 143 Eleanor Roosevelt

Middle School 322.

Manhattan Debate League in the News


Changing Their World with Words (9/18/2014)
Why Debate Matters for My Students (12/25/14)
New York Debate League Involves Middle School Students of All Backgrounds (11/17/14)
Teaching Young Students the Art of Argumentation (7/8/14)
“Twin Titans of Stuyvesant High School” (11/17/13)
“The Great Debaters” (2013)
“New York Great Debaters Swept New York State Championships” (3/26/13)
“No Debate About this Program’s Value” (11/9/12)
“Debate Team Energized by Cop Brutality” (4/11/2000)

Manhattan Debate League on Television