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“The Baltimore Urban Debate League helped me to find my place in the world.  Before starting debate, my options were very limited and often led to negative outcomes.  After completing the program I realized my only limitations were in my mind.”

Jarrell Anderson, BUDL Alumnus

Debate’s profound effect is demonstrated in both local and national data, research reports and media. According to national studies:

  • Debate improves educational performance
  • Debate reduces violence
  • Debate enhances social development
  • Debate improves schools and communities

The Baltimore Urban Debate League provides a proven approach for students to achieve and prepare  for brighter futures.

Independent research conducted in 2009-10 confirms that BUDL helps students to achieve more in school and prepare for better futures.  The study found that BUDL debaters:

  • Had 94% daily rate of attendance as compared to the 88% for the general student population
  • Scored 88% proficient or better on state reading tests compared to the 72% scored by the comparison students
  • Scored 79% proficient or better on state math tests as compared to 62% of the comparison students

The more the better.   Our studies have shown that the more that students participate in BUDL the better they do on standardized tests.

BUDL students go to College:

Since 2004 , 85-95 % of BUDL’s students have graduated on time and were accepted into colleges across the nation, many receiving full or partial debate scholarships.

National studies indicate results that  are consistent for urban debaters across the country:

  • Urban debate league students have a 25% higher rate of increase on annual literacy assessment measures than their non-debating peers
  • Debaters are three times less likely to engage in high risk behaviors
  • Debaters are almost twice as likely to go on to college and to pursue college immediately after high school
  • Debate students showed greater increases in GPA over one year when compared to their non debating peers

(Source: “Argument for Success: A Study of Academic Debate in the Urban High schools of Chicago, Kansas City, New York, St. Louis and Seattle,” Linda M. Collier, JD. University of Missouri, 2004)




2015 Mutual of America Foundation Community Partnership Award, Honorable Mention Award, Competitive Debate Program

2015 National Association of Urban Debate Leagues, Urban Debate League of the Year

2014 MetLife Foundation Afterschool Innovator Award

B’More Fund Award

Hero for Justice Award, University of Maryland School of Social Work

President’s Committee on Arts and Humanities, Coming Up Taller Award

Weinberg Employee Giving Award

Weinberg Fellowship, Aloha Award

Barkley Forum Paul Slappy Award for Encouraging Diversity in Forensic Arts

BUDL In The News

B’More Lifestyle, January 10, 2017: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Event at the Walters Museum

Baltimore Curriculum Project Newsletter, December 2016: City Springs Elementary/Middle School BUDL Debate Team Presents at Great American Smokeout READ NOW>>

Day After Reading, December 2016: Interview with Coleen Reyes READ NOW>>

Eastside State Complex News, Fall 2016: Debating the Debates: The Baltimore Urban Debate League in Action

The Daily Record, January 8, 2014: O’Malley- School systems fall short when it comes to transparency READ NOW>>

Education Week, December 19, 2013: New Video Tells Story of Baltimore Debate League for Students READ NOW>>

Open Society Foundation, December 2013: Up for Debate, Debate League Steers Students on a Path for Success WATCH NOW>>

Open Society Foundation Blog, December 2013: Is Harsh School Discipline Necessary? That’s Up For Debate READ NOW>>

ABC 2 News, May 2012: Baltimore City students learn debate skills in the classroom WATCH NOW>>

Council of Great City School’s “Urban Educator,” May 2013: Baltimore School Wins Urban Debate Championship READ NOW>>

Council of Great City School’s “Urban Educator,” March 2013: Baltimore Uses Debate To Train Teachers On Common Core READ NOW>>

Baltimore Sun, Blessed are the troublemakers, September 13, 2012 READ NOW>>

NPR: Baltimore, MD: Outsiders In

Urbanite Magazine: Debating City Vs. Poly

Open Society Foundation Blog: How a Debate League Changes Young Lives

Maryland Morning: Don’t Argue with a Baltimorean LISTEN NOW >>

The Michael Eric Dyson Show: Baltimore Urban Debate League

Open Society Institute Audacious Ideas: Baltimore Urban Debate League VIEW NOW >>

CBS News, 60 Minutes: Making Their Case READ NOW >> or WATCH NOW >>

WBAL TV11: Students Debate Gangsta Rap Effects on Crime

WhatKidsCanDo.org: Baltimore’s Urban Debaters Prove the Word is Mightier than… VIEW NOW >>

92Q Jams Radio: 17 Percent Of City Kids Attend School, Students Offer Solutions LISTEN NOW >>

HBO: Hard Times at Douglas High: A No Child Left Behind Report Card VIEW NOW >>

Baltimore Sun: Baltimore City Students Take Their Arguments Outside, May 28, 2005

The Baltimore Afro American: Debate the New Teaching Method, Dec 4, 2004

The Baltimore Afro American: Walbrook’s New Fire, Nov 27, 2004

The Baltimore Afro American: Debate Team Rules, Nov 13, 2004

The Baltimore Sun: A Student Competition Where Every Word Counts, Oct 2004

The State of Debate: An Introspective on Coaching in BUDL, June 2003

The Baltimore Sun: For Teens Finding Voice was a Matter of Debate, June 7, 2003

The Baltimore Sun: Big Time TV Exposure for Debaters Undisputed, June 11, 2003

U.S. News and World Report: League of Their Own, June 17, 2002

City Paper: Arguing the Point, Aug 29, 2001

The Baltimore Sun: Three area youths fly off to Russia for debate camp VIEW NOW >>

The Baltimore Sun: Finding Their Voices, June 18, 2000