Silicon Valley Urban Debate League

  • CA


502 Valley Way
United States

About Us

The Silicon Valley Urban Debate League (SVUDL) inspires low-income youth in San Jose and the Peninsula to connect with academic life by channeling the power of competitive debate. Three components drive SVUDL’s impact at our affiliate schools.

Competitive Debate programs tap the joy of expression and the excitement of competition by engaging students through weekly debate practices, monthly workshops, and debate tournaments. Leadership Development trainings provide youth with the skills to lead teams, schools, and communities—and supports each debater in graduating from high school and college. In tandem with schools and teachers, our work in Curriculum Innovation spreads the strategies of debate to the classroom to make smart cool.

This model is only made possible through partnerships with teacher advocates at our high schools and a strong network of volunteers. Volunteer mentors assist coaches at weekly practices and serve students at weekend workshops and competitions, public events, and a weeklong Summer Institute.

SVUDL follows in the footsteps of 19 other Urban Debate Leagues nationwide that implement parallel models to enable new generations of college graduates, leaders, and innovators. Peer-reviewed studies that articulate educational impact show that urban debaters are more likely than their peers to test as college-ready in Reading, English, and Science. More than 95% of students who join UDL programs graduate high school and over 90% of graduates go on to college. Debaters are also 80% more likely to graduate college than their peers.

Our founding group of debaters from East San Jose and East Palo Alto is 100% students of color and 80% low-income. By the end of 2015, we hope to expand the impacts of urban debate to 5 additional high schools in the Silicon Valley. Encouraged by vigorous interest from school administrators and teachers at our wait list schools, we see tremendous opportunity to reach hundreds more young people with a transformative debate program.