Debate Mate USA is an innovative non-profit that seeks to empower young people from areas of high child poverty through debate. Based on our successful model in the UK, we recruit and train college students from Harvard, Brandeis and MIT to run after-school debate clubs in Boston Middle Schools. The 10-week program culminates in a one-day debating tournament held at Harvard University.
Between February and May 2011 Debate Mate USA completed its Pre-Pilot program with 7 Boston Middle Schools working with over 100 young people. This year the programme has doubled in size, and we are now running in 14 schools.
The 2011 program was evaluated by Arbor Consulting Partners, who reported:
- 86% thought their ability to speak fluently with confidence had increased or increased greatly
- 73% thought their ability to make a clear structured argument had increased or increased greatly
Moreover, 100% of teachers also felt that the program had helped students in their normal lessons, and 83% felt it had helped improve student attitudes towards school.
Working in partnership with the Samata Shiksha Niketan Bamboo Schools in Nepal, Debate Mate delivers our programme to over 1,600 disadvantaged students in Kathmandu, Baktapur, Pokhara, Kawasoti and Chitwan over the summer, using mentors we fly over from the UK.
The programme was founded with a similar goal with that of our Core Programme, to promote social mobility through debating where it is needed most. We work with dalits (the lowest caste in the caste system), formerly sex-trafficked young people, orphans and abandoned youths who are otherwise overlooked.
In 2011, we trained and brought a team of Nepali debaters to the World Schools Debating Championships in Dundee.
Every summer we send our best mentors to Nepal for a four-week period, wherein they run a programme of workshops and debates for the children at the schools.
This successful programme is to be the subject of a documentary and is something we intend to continue with.
Debate Mate has been operating a successful partnership with GEMS, a leading education provider, in the United Arab Emirates, since 2009.
Our Programme Director Scott Ralston is the coach of the UAE schools debating team, which has been competing in the World Schools Debating Championships since 2008.
We work with the inspirational young leaders of the grassroots organisation One Voice, who are committed to fostering consensus for a two-state solution. Through workshops and debates, we teach young Israelis and Palestinians how to address issues in a non-hostile, constructive way. Our most recent work in the region was documented by the Rabbi Gideon Sylvester, writing in the Jewish Chronicle.