Debate Mate USA is the sister organization of Debate Mate UK Ltd. We are based in Cambridge, MA.
Like Debate Mate UK, Debate Mate USA’s goal is to increase social mobility in disadvantaged communities by developing young people’s 21st century skills—speaking and listening, teamwork, critical thinking. The lack of these skills is prevalent in young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and is one of the most significant factors in holding young people back, preventing them from realizing their true potential, and perpetuating the cycle of poverty. Using a unique, modified style of British parliamentary debating, we provide an innovative and fun way for young people to increase their teamwork, critical thinking and communication skills. Ultimately, we hope that 100% of our participants graduate high school, enter employment or go to college.
Expansion to the USA began in Boston with a small pilot in 7 middle schools in 2011, and has grown each year since. In 2013 Debate Mate USA ran a 5 school pilot in the South Side of Chicago, and as of 2014, the program includes 18 schools in Boston, Somerville, Revere and Lawrence, 9 schools in Chicago, and, most recently, 5 middle schools in the Bronx. The Winter 2014 program reached over 400 students across the three cities.
The schools we work in lag behind in several indicators of educational performance including MCAS state testing scores and reading levels. 42% of BPS 8th grade students scored “needs improvement” or “failing” on the 2013 English MCAS exams. Furthermore, demographically, 72% of schools involved in this year’s Boston program came from low-income households, 19% received Special Education services, and 27% were English Language Learners. Debate Mate is effective at re-engaging students from these populations in school and helping to hone their critical thinking skills, confidence, and speaking and listening skills. These skills and new found confidence transfer to their work in the classroom and positively impact students’ literacy and overall academic achievement, as well as school and classroom culture.
For more information, please visit the Debate Mate USA website.