Blog Newsletter

The BUDL BUZZ: September 2017 Edition


Welcome Back!

We cannot believe that it is already September and school is back in action! The Baltimore Urban Debate League is excited to start the school year with so many new schools, debaters, and teacher coaches to bring in the new competitive debate season. Before we share what’s ahead, here are few updates on what kept our students busy over the summer…


Summer Camp 2017


This year’s Elementary/Middle School summer camp served 64 students at The Johns Hopkins University, Homewood Campus. We introduced a few new elements this year, focusing on public and committee style debates. Students observed new styles of speech and debate including impromptu speaking, duo interpretation, and original oratory!



Public Debates


Thanks to MECU, debaters gathered at Govans Farmers Market to engage the public in a summer public debate! They used this time to show off their public speaking and debate skills to a bustling crowd! What a wonderful way to engage the community!

Start of Something New & The 2017-2018 Competitive Debate Season


BUDL is excited to bring on several Lead Coaches in the EMS Competitive Debate Program. Due to our rapid expansion of 39 city schools in the EMS program, they will help to support our newest schools as they learn the debate season ropes. Lead Coaches will visit schools and serve as peer coaches throughout the school year. We look forward to sharing news from them and updating you all on the amazing progress happening afterschool and on Saturday tournaments.

This year’s debate policy resolution is “Resolved: The State of Maryland should drastically curtail standardized testing for public school students in grades K-12.” Students and coaches voted on this resolution at the end of last season and certainly will have plenty of arguments to share on how this impacts their educational experience!


Elementary/Middle School Tournament #1

Join us on Saturday, October 14th for BUDL’s first elementary/middle school tournament of the season held at Roland Park Elementary/Middle School (5207 Roland Ave, Baltimore, MD 21210).

E-mail if you are interested in being a volunteer-judge–no experience necessary!






It’s Debatable!

BUDL PD’s “It’s Debatable” 2AU course had another great summer session, adding eleven new members to the BUDL PD family. We’ll be looking to keep up our momentum when we offer an open planning workshop on September 12th to add BUDL PD past participants and friends.

Email for more information.



Coleen’s Corner

More than January, September always feels like a new year. It could be because of my birthday, but more likely it is because I have always loved the beginning of the school year! September feels like a time full of promise, excitement, and hope.

We are so excited about all of the changes and growth happening in our EMS program already. We’re still working on getting schools recruited so there is potential for even more. I hope that your September feels full of promise, excitement, and hope too!

~Coleen Reyes, Executive Director


High School Program Update

Though it was a difficult decision to put our high school program on hiatus for a school year, we still believe it was the right decision. Our high school program is in the process of being redesigned. In addition to processing lots of feedback from stakeholders, we are engaging in a design thinking experience to refine the lessons from the past, hopes, and goals for the new program.

We are building from the foundation up so asking lots of questions and considering lots of options. We are excited about the potential for our new program to increase opportunities for young people in high schools all over the city to further develop their own voice and use it with power and purpose.


Without you, BUDL could not provide after-school programming and Saturday competitive debate tournaments for students across the District. Give a gift to BUDL and support the good work happening in Baltimore. Share us with friends and tell them about how debate matters in your life.  Thank you for the debate love!

Blog Newsletter

The BUDL BUZZ – BUDL in Bloom – 03.2017 Edition


Spring is a time of wonder and growth. We are excited to continue seeing our young people bloom and shine all over their schools and city. Join us in celebrating the wonders of spring by seeing the light and newness everywhere!

– Coleen Reyes, Executive Director



At our last regular season EMS tournament of the year, on March 18th, we asked our debaters who they would debate if they could debate anyone in the world. You might be surprised by their answers!

30% of students would love to take on our President Donald J. Trump and 15% their coach or teacher!





Adventures and Acclaim at BUDL Travel Debates 

On March 3rd and 4th, a group of 22 BUDL debaters braved the cold to head to the Lakeland Westchester Classic, an annual invitational tournament held in Shrub Oak, NY.
It was an eventful weekend, with Baltimore City College debater Deontrey Y. (teamed with Will D.) placing 5th in Speaker Awards for Varsity Policy, and Tyler T., also of Baltimore City College, and debating alone, advancing to the quarter-finals in Novice Policy.

Photo provided by BCC Debate Coach, Patrick Daniels. Thanks Coach Daniels for the photo!

Congratulations to all of our adventurous high school debaters!


Elijah, of Roland Park Elementary/Middle School, is hardly new to debate. Though he’s been a BUDL debater for two and a half years, he’s been, by his own admission, debating since he was two years old.
“I have to have the last word,” he says. “It runs in my family.”
“It’s not necessarily about the win,” he continues, “even though it feels good to have won a round. It’s more about learning something new, having fun, even making new friends.”
At the end of his seventh grade year, Elijah is currently plotting his next move. He hopes to bring his debate prowess to the Baltimore School for the Arts, where he would like to study architecture, visual arts, or theater.
We know you can succeed at whatever you put your mind to, Elijah!


On March 22nd, BUDL hosted its second Student Climate Ambassador training, piloted to support student debaters in effecting change in their own schools. In attendance were student ambassadors from three schools: Lillie May Carroll Jackson, Calverton, and Frederick Douglass. The students revisited their Session 1 focus on the five pillars of School Climate, and continued to develop the skills to engage all stakeholders and work together as a team.

We are excited for ambassadors to report back on their next task: interviewing three members of their schools!


Join us on Saturday, April 1st at Roland Park Elementary/Middle School (5207 Roland Ave, Baltimore MD 21210) for BUDL’s Elementary and Middle School Championship tournament! We could not be more excited to celebrate our students’ amazing achievements throughout the year, and we invite you to come out and support our very own Great Debaters.
Contact BUDL at if you are interested in being a volunteer-judge–no experience necessary!

“It’s Debatable!” Professional Development Graduates 10 New Teachers!

We are proud to share that our “It’s Debatable!” program has graduated ten new teachers! One of those graduates is BUDL debate alum Nisa Little, who is now a fourth grade teacher in Baltimore City Public Schools. Here at BUDL we love lifelong learners, and are especially excited to see debate come full circle.
If you are interested in learning more about Professional Development and how debate can support all subjects, teachers, and classrooms, contact Jen Wheeler ( for more information on BUDL’s “It’s Debatable!” professional development program.
Without you, BUDL could not provide after-school programming, competitive debate tournaments, community engagement events, and free summer camp for students across the District.
Give a gift to BUDL and support student voice in the City of Baltimore.  Check out our donate page to see how your contribution helps promote voice.  Share us with friends and tell them about how debate matters in your life.  We appreciate you!

Blog Newsletter

The BUDL BUZZ – For the Love of Debate 2.2017 Edition

This month we celebrated Valentine’s Day with lots of hearts and love. I hope you see debate as part of love! Even though when we debate we focus on trying to convince someone that we are more right than others, simply engaging in the debate is an act of love. Anytime we engage in a conversation or discussion about an issue that is contentious or controversial, we engage our bravery. When we listen and learn from others, we engage in love. We make our world better. Talking about the things that are difficult to talk about is one of the best ways to show love to others and for ourselves.

At BUDL, we also get to see love all the time when alumni come back to support the next generation. We see so many parents and family members come out to be silent cheerleaders for their debaters, and we have volunteers who come and share their time to support and encourage our debaters. That’s love in action…and we love it!

Be brave, loving, open with your support, and use your voice (this month and always) to engage. Happy love month!

– Coleen Reyes, Executive Director


On February 3rd and 4th, a cohort of 31 BUDL high school debaters from five schools attended
the annual Pennsbury Falcon Invitational tournament, located in Fairless Hills, PA.
Congratulations to Baltimore City College student Jonathan G.,
who placed 8th out of 70 for the JV Policy Speaker Award!

BUDL debaters stage an informal scrimmage with Washington Urban Debate League at the Pennsbury Falcon Invitational.


Lisa Mcgraw-Robinson has been with BUDL since the very beginning. A student at Lake Clifton High School in 1999, she went on to represent her school at the Emory National Debate Institute that summer, winning numerous awards with her sister and teammate at Baltimore City College over the next several years.
“I barely spoke before debate,” she says. “Being involved with debate helped me to get over my extreme shyness.”
Since 2002, Lisa has consistently volunteered her time and expertise at BUDL tournaments. “I love giving back to the program that did so much for me,” she says. “My debate skills have helped me to see things from all sides. I am able to articulate my point and understand someone else’s where we meet in the middle. “
Today, Lisa holds a degree in Social Work, and is currently working on a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. At the same time, she works at the Baltimore County Department of Health and Human Services, where she says that her debate skills are often put to good use.
Thank you, Lisa, for everything that you do to enrich the lives of young people in Baltimore–BUDL wouldn’t be the same without you!


Join us on Saturday, February 25th for BUDL’s fifth elementary/middle school tournament held at Roland Park Elementary/Middle School (5207 Roland Ave, Baltimore, MD 21210).
Contact Program Coordinator Anne Marie at if you are interested in being a volunteer-judge–no experience necessary!

It’s Debatable!

We are halfway through facilitating another round of “It’s Debatable!” professional development, wherein we have the pleasure of working with participants across grade levels and content areas.

If you are interested in learning more about Professional Development and how debate can support all subjects, teachers, and classrooms, contact Jen Wheeler ( for more information on BUDL’s “It’s Debatable!” professional development program.

Blog Newsletter

THE BUDL BUZZ – Speak Up, Speak Out – 1.2017 Edition

When we speak, we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.

– Audre Lorde

When I was younger, I was very quiet. My teachers called me shy and sometimes I got lost in the midst of lots of others talking. During a conversation many years later, I heard a very clear statement in my mind. Your voice matters as much as anyone else’s. Speak up! No one else has the same combination of experiences and characteristics. Your perspective is important and can change minds and circumstances. In this season of changing politics, let us all practice the good citizenship of speaking up and out. Your voice is unique and needs to be heard. Be brave, speak your truth, and stand up for others!
~Coleen Reyes, Executive Director

BUDL debaters read their own #ThanksObamas letters at The Walters Museum’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration on January 12th, 2017.


As we reflect on the power of speaking out, we pay gratitude to the folks who so often lead the way–the mentors!
Wayne Young, a former debater and Social Work student at McDaniel College, has been involved with BUDL for many years. From debating policy in elementary school to working as a tabulation assistant at current tournaments to even coaching from time to time, Wayne is always a positive presence, inspiring for his commitment and dedication to student voice.
“It’s not about the win or lose,” says Wayne, “It’s about the lesson and skill.” We could not agree more, and for this reason are so grateful that Wayne and other mentors like him are giving back to debate as role models for the next generation!




Join us on Saturday, January 21st for BUDL’s fourth elementary/middle school tournament held at Roland Park Elementary/Middle School (5207 Roland Ave, Baltimore, MD 21210). 
If you can’t make it, come check us out at our next tournament, hosted at Arundel High School (1000 Annapolis Rd, Gambrills, MD 21054) on February 11th!
Contact Program Coordinator Anne Marie at if you are interested in being a volunteer-judge–no experience necessary!

It’s Debatable!

A new “It’s Debatable” professional development course will open for registration in January and start on February 3rd.
If you are interested in learning more about Professional Development and how debate can support all subjects, teachers, and classrooms, contact Jen Wheeler ( for more information on BUDL’s “It’s Debatable!” professional development program.

Blog Newsletter

The BUDL BUZZ – Debate and Family 12.2016 Edition


Hello BUDL Friends!

The holidays conjure so many images: good food, long lines at the airport, days off of school or work. Most importantly to many of us, though, they mean family.

But family means more than just direct blood ties. We also cherish our chosen families–our friends and partners, our colleagues and allies.

And you. This holiday season, we are so grateful to you, our debate family, for your support, enthusiasm, and commitment to the relationships built through debate. We hope you enjoy this peek at what our young debaters have been getting up to, in their schools and beyond.



Creativity. It’s not one of the words most often associated with policy debate, but most every debater would tell you that to compete at a tournament takes quick thinking, imagination, and flexibility.

One new team at our third High School tournament on Saturday, November 12th, showcased a perfect example of just this flexibility and teamwork. Because of a change of plans, Mahmoud Shalby and Jasmine Owens, both of Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, had to readjust on the spot to become debate partners.

“I felt like it was a lot of pressure,” said Owens, “But since I’ve been debating for three years, I’m used to it, no matter who I work with.”

“The reason I excel at debate,” she continued, “is that I’m very diligent, outside school and in… [Debates] let me argue with people, do what I do best, and get awarded.” She even, in her senior year, has a job, and is confident that debate will help her pursue her dream career in biomedical engineering.

As we reflect on and express gratitude for different kinds of families this month, we are inspired by Shalby and Owens’ example of on-the-spot teamwork. We look forward to seeing what 2017 holds for both debaters, as well as our whole debate family!


To most people, a resolution is a new years’ promise you may (or, let’s be honest, may not) keep. To debaters, though, a resolution means a specific statement that is put forth to be debated by the affirmative team.

As we put 2016 to bed, so too do we say goodbye to EMS’s Fall resolution, on the subject of community land trusts. Most everyone involved agreed that this was a very complex but rich topic, one that increased students’ awareness of home ownership, building equity, and Baltimore City itself. As the semester went on, coaches were impressed by students’ increased understanding of the ins and outs of this issue.

Which brings us to our newest resolution, to be first debated in January: that the State of Maryland should increase the statewide minimum wage to $15.00/hour. In order to tackle this multi-faceted subject, students will learn about income inequality, the challenges of small businesses, and the unique arguments for and against increasing the minimum wage in Maryland. Be sure to come out to watch our debaters develop their arguments in the tournaments to come–we guarantee you’ll learn something!



The end of the year often means a time for reflection on what from the past twelve months we are most proud of. To that end, EMS Program Manager Leslie Stanton shares this memory of a BUDL-supported trip to the Baltimore Community Toolbank:

“[This past May], dozens of BUDL students got to visit the Toolbank and flex their creative muscle to use broken tools to invent new, useful and fascinating new items. Our students learned about the Chesapeake Watershed, talked about how litter and waste can negatively impact our community and planet, and then use this knowledge to build contraptions which would benefit their neighborhoods.”

Thanks so much again to the Baltimore Community Toolbank, Noah Smock, as well as BGE and the Chesapeake Bay Trust Foundation, for helping to facilitate this wonderful experience for our debaters!


Join us on Saturday, January 21st for BUDL’s fourth elementary/middle school tournament held at Roland Park Elementary/Middle School (5207 Roland Ave, Baltimore, MD 21210). If you can’t make it, come check us out at our next tournament on February 11th!

Contact Program Coordinator Anne Marie at or if you are interested in being a volunteer-judge–no experience necessary!




Due to inclement weather, the December 17th high school tournament is canceled. A make-up date will be announced at a later date. Thank you to those who signed up to volunteer. Stay warm and have a great weekend!

Contact Program Coordinator Anne Marie at if you are interested in being a volunteer-judge at the next tournament–no experience necessary!



We are honored to be able to participate in The Walters Museum’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration on Thursday, January 12th, 2017. Our students will be reading both original work, as well as excerpts from Dr. King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”

Be sure to visit The Walters’ website for more information or check out our Facebook page for details. Come and support our students!



It’s Debatable!

Another cohort of “It’s Debatable” 2AU class just finished. Thank you teachers for participating!

On 11/29, 21 interns from the Urban Teachers group received a 1-hour PD on “It’s Debatable” methods and the importance of argument in the elementary classroom. Way to go urban teachers for recognizing argument in our classrooms!

If you are interested in learning more about Professional Development and how debate can support all subjects, teachers, and classrooms, contact Jen Wheeler ( for more information on BUDL’s “It’s Debatable!” professional development program.

Debate is truly making a difference in teaching and learning in Baltimore!




Who is your family? Are they just relatives by blood? I would argue that we all have family that we’ve chosen. I have many family members who are members by love, not blood. I am as grateful for both kinds of family members. Some have been family since high school, have seen me through many challenges, and know me better than I know myself. In relationships, we don’t always agree and family gives us the opportunity to love each other through the debate and dialogue of life. Further, as family, we have a commitment to each other to not let problems fester, but to have the hard conversations and debates of life. I see BUDL as part of my family chosen by love. Not only has the work provided me the opportunity to add to my family but also remind me how important that communication within a family is to success. As you enjoy the holidays and family time, appreciate the healthy communication through debate. We are closer when all can see the situation from many perspectives. Have a wonderful December! See you next year!!


Still holiday shopping? BUDL’s got you covered. We have a limited amount of “I HEART DEBATE” and “B’MORE DEBATE” tees still for sale, directly from our website.

Rep your debate pride in comfy style!





Blog Newsletter

The BUDL BUZZ – Debate and Choice 11.2016 Edition


Hello BUDL Friends!


Through the practice, discipline, excitement and challenge of competitive debate, our students are presented with countless opportunities to make meaningful choices in school and life.  This month’s newsletter focuses on debate and choice. Debate not only transforms and inspires students to be the change that they seek in the world, but hopefully shapes them to be the best versions of themselves that they can be.  We at BUDL are privileged to hear, witness, and share our students’ accounts of how debate changes their outlooks and provides them opportunities to make better choices.




Debaters at Matthew A. Henson Elementary Middle School are Making Meaningful Choices in their Lives


After-school practice at school and competitive debate on Saturdays are places of great academic, emotional, and social impact and growth for our students.  At Matthew A. Henson, debaters’ budding decision-making skills are on display in and out of the tournament.


Several 5th graders at the school offer inspiring examples. Determined to stay in debate, Malik decided to focus on his behavior, vocabulary, fluency, and presentation so as not to distract from the important points he is arguing during rounds. Meanwhile, the new partnership of Nathan and Chyna, forged when both students decided they needed a reset, is serving to complement each debater’s personal strengths. This sort of strategic thinking is not only helping them to bond as friends and teammates, but also to grow as young thinkers.


Ms. Copeland, a Matthew A. Henson teacher and dedicated supporter of the team, reiterates just how much debate is helping her students to make better decisions. She shares that following a tense interaction after school, another debater deliberately reached out to share her feelings and address the situation calmly. “Debate is helping students to understand that you can solve problems and deal with conflict without resorting to screaming or fighting,” she reports. “They are making better choices in how they look at debate, how they look at school, and how they interact with each other.”


In fact, these changes extend beyond the school wall; students have been reaching out to opposing teams across the city as well.  At the last EMS tournament, Ms. Copeland noticed that her debaters have been making it a point to talk to their opponents before the round starts, laughing, joking, and sometimes even becoming new friends. Ms. Copeland is so proud that her students are building up the debate community, one friend at a time, and applying a more objective and open mindset in not only their arguments and speeches, but also their lives.


Thank you students for your hard work and love of debate! BUDL is grateful for supporters like Ms. Copeland and the coach at Matthew A. Henson for inspiring students to make meaningful choices in their lives.








Thursday, October 27th marked BUDL’s first public debate of the school year sponsored by Pat and Peter Handal along with J4P Associates, and we could not be prouder of our six brave debaters (including one student brand-new to the debate stage!).

In front of about 50 dignitaries, public officials, and community members, teams representing Calverton Elementary Middle School and Western High School addressed whether this Fall’s presidential debates gave the American people enough information to cast an informed vote.

Speaking before the crowd, Winston Wilkinson, Chief of Staff in the Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives in the State of Maryland, commended the six debaters on their confidence and poise–both of which were definitely in evidence as they questioned and rebutted each other.

We are so proud of our young people, and excited to hear them continue to share their insights with the public in 2017!






On November 3rd, Iggie Evans, our wonderful Debate 101 instructor, led students from Mergenthaler and Western in a lively discussion comprising debate anxiety, cross-examination, and how to strengthen a topic. If students would like to join and attend our weekly Debate 101 workshops, connect with HS Program Manager, Aram Boykin at for more information.


Anne Marie Rooney is the newest addition to the BUDL team! Anne Marie will support the Competitive Debate program as Program Coordinator.  An educator and coordinator with experience designing and leading classes in storytelling, poetry, social-emotional learning, and art, she has worked with libraries, community centers, after-school programs, museums, and schools to share creative expression with people of all ages. A graduate of the Cornell and Carnegie Mellon writing programs, she is co-founder of Line Assembly, a collective of poets and educators committed to community-building through the literary arts. She is passionate about supporting young people in strengthening their own unique voices, and for this reason is very excited about joining the Baltimore Urban Debate League!


Anne Marie has hit the ground running with a tournament and public debate already under her belt.  “I feel so lucky to have witnessed, in my first week, not one but two debates! At October’s Courthouse Debate, I was particularly inspired to see our debaters jump right into current events, and engage on not only a policy but also a personal level. As the new Program Coordinator, I am excited about continuing to strengthen and grow our wonderful volunteer base of community members, BUDL alumni, and current debaters. Our teams have so much insight to share with the world!”  Welcome to the team Anne Marie, we are so glad to have you!





On Saturday, November 12th for BUDL’s third high school tournament in partnership with the Baltimore Catholic Forensic League held at Dulaney High School located at 255 E. Padonia Road, Lutherville-Timonium, MD 21093.  Also come check us out at our next tournament on December 17th!


Contact HS Program Manager, Aram Boykin at or Anne Marie at if you are interested in judging or would like to volunteer!






Before we all prepare for the Thanksgiving Day holiday, please join us on Saturday, November 19th for an elementary-middle school tournament held at Roland Park Elementary and give thanks to the hard work our students have put forth all semester. Please join us to give cheer and thanks to the wonderful students who present persuasive arguments on vacant housing in Baltimore.
Sign up today and judge a debate, help us serve a pizza lunch, or silently cheer on students as they tackle rounds with confidence!





Debate Strategies & Skills in Math?


Ever wonder about our Professional Development work with hundreds of teachers in Baltimore City schools? Led by Teaching & Learning Manager Jen Wheeler, teachers across the District are infusing debate skills and strategies in their classrooms. Though debate and math are not conventionally associated with each other, the evidence-based skills and logic actually go hand-in-hand.  Students are asked to present their opinion and reason, explaining the answers to the math problem.  




The picture above shows third grade math students applying these debate strategies and concepts as they problem-solve in a methodical manner, explaining their logic and showing their work to marry logical reasoning to their opinions. Thank you teachers for helping students identify the many ways to strengthen and solidify critical and logical thinking in the classroom! If you are interested in learning more about Professional Development and how debate supports all subjects taught in Baltimore City schools, teachers, and classrooms, contact Jen Wheeler at for more information on BUDL’s “It’s Debatable!” professional development program.  Debate is truly making a difference in teaching and learning in Baltimore.   






November 29th is Giving Tuesday, a national day dedicated to philanthropy.  BUDL invites you all to support our mission and cause this holiday season as we continue to reach more students through a love of debate. Funds generated from this day support the after-school programming and tournaments we host across Baltimore throughout the year. Help us reach more students and donate today. In the spirit of giving, do not forget to share your love of debate this November with friends and family. To participate, click on the donate button today.  Thank you for changing students’ lives through debate!


If you participate in the MCC, CCC, CBACFC, please designate BUDL as your charity to support our cause this year.


Maryland Charity Campaign

If you participate in the MCC, CCC, CBACFC please designate BUDL today as your charity and support student voice in Baltimore!

EIN: 810596405 
Combined Charity Campaign
Combined Federal Campaign
CFC CODE: 50294


Click here to donate to BUDL and be a part of Giving Tuesday!







Middle & High School Choice Fair


On December 10th, 5th- and 8th-grade students and families can learn about school options at the annual Middle and High School Choice Fair at the Baltimore Convention Center from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m on Saturday, December 10. The Choice Fair is a wonderful opportunity to learn about school options, talk with school staff, see student performances, and meet other families.


Need Help Preparing for College? FAFSA College Help


Attention HS students and parents: attend a free help session led by Baltimore City Schools!



Wednesday, Nov. 30: 4:30 – 8:00 p.m. District Office
200 E. North Ave., 1st floor Board Room


Many of us sit surprised and disappointed at the results of the recent election. I submit that there still is hope through debate! While what we watched the candidates do hardly looked like debate, it highlights the need for real debate. Through debate, we look at both sides of an issue. Through debate, we learn the importance and strength of arguments. Through debate, we consider and reconsider the many aspects of what we are pondering. Through debate, we determine our own choices. As we go through this month, consider how you use debate to determine your choices. Would your choice be the same without debate? How do you think others use debate to inform their choices?


Debate is a necessary part of democracy, therefore I hope we all remain brave enough to stay in debate over the issues that face us. Let’s not stay at just debate, let’s act on the ideas and thoughts unearthed through debate. We are amazing. There is power and choice through debate. Use it to change the world! ~Coleen Reyes




Without you, BUDL could not provide after-school programming and competitive debate tournaments for students across the District.  Give a gift to BUDL and support the good work happening in Baltimore. Share us with friends and tell them about how debate matters in your life.


Thank you for the debate love!



Blog Newsletter

The BUDL BUZZ – Debate as Change 10. 2016 Edition

Hello BUDL Friends!

The 2016-2017 competitive debate season is in full force thanks to the tireless volunteers and supporters who champion our amazing debaters at tournaments across Baltimore City. We are grateful for your support and look forward to your continued involvement as our students strengthen their arguments during each round. Often people imagine debate as relevant only in election season, but debate is so much more. Debate transforms. Debate transcends. Debate is change. This month’s newsletter focuses on debate as change and shares with you our students’ perspectives as they develop into thoughtful and empowered young people. 

debate-as-change-header-1 pyc-outward-bound

BUDL realizes that our students are acutely aware of the perceptions of police and youth in Baltimore City. It is truly a testament to last year’s in-depth policy debate topics on police body cameras and U.S. surveillance that students and community members have a heightened level of awareness of ongoing issues in policing and community relations.  BUDL has been actively looking for ways to change perceptions between youth and police in Baltimore and teamed up with the Baltimore Police Department and Outward Bound to begin those tough conversations. 16 students from seven schools across the city engaged in outdoor and leadership challenges to help build meaningful relationships with youth and police officers.  One of the many goals within our debate programs is to promote student voice and community engagement.  By presenting opportunities for students to engage in the community through conversations with people in training to become police officers, students and police are able to discuss their perceptions of one another and to work together overcoming challenges.  They all took the time to learn about each other, discuss future plans, and work together. These activities helped students and police officers have meaningful experiences with greater understanding and appreciation of each other.

EMS Program Manager, Leslie B. Stanton had the privilege of witnessing a student transformation last Friday and shares with us how these experiences shift perspectives and surprises all of us. “One of the students was very resistant and attention seeking in the morning. She disrupted, made many comments about how she should was going to leave at any moment, how she could walk home, how she wasn’t going to do any of the challenges, and generally looking to disrupt games and activities with questions and outbursts. As the day went on, she shifted in attitude as she engaged in the activities. A younger student paired up with her and I saw her take that student under her wing. After they did the climbing element, her tone had shifted. I saw a student who seemed to have learned that her role in the day mattered. At the end of the day she hugged about half a dozen officers. It was simply amazing!”  Thank you to those brave students and police officers for taking the time to bond and share with us some hope in overcoming challenges in the future.

Pat and Peter Handal alongside J4P & Associates are hosting BUDL’s public debate on Thursday OCT 27 from 11:30am to 12:30pm at the Eastside State Complex 1910 N. Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21213.   Public debates bring attention to issues, raise awareness of the power  and wisdom of our youth voice, and encourage them to conceive themselves as agents of change.  
Chazz Johnson and Kaden Johnson from Calverton EMS will respectively partner with HS students Yasmine Arnett and Brianna Dower from Western to debate on the presidential candidates’ performances in the last three presidential debates.  BUDL is excited to hear from our student debaters their thoughts on how Trump and Clinton may improve their policy positions, arguments, and presentations.  A bit of advice from one debater to another!

Western High School has demonstrated exceptional leadership through debate.  In the first two months of the debate season, Western High School has been operating without a formal coach.  This obstacle has not prevented the Doves from ensuring they have a team that competes. Their team Captain Yasmine Arnett has not only competed at the highest level of Varsity Policy but has also tutored her younger teammates in debate and helped prepare them for the Novice level.  We are excited for this strong all-female team to develop this season.  Go Western!

Karis Joyner, Hamilton Middle School Student was asked, “What did you think about the debate last night?” She said, “it was very interesting. The part about the Supreme Court was very superior for both of them. They both had good plans. But some of the things Donald Trump said were very unbalancing. He would say one thing, and then Hillary would talk and then he’d change his answer.” She also commented that Trump seemed to have a history of being concerned about problems like heroin when it impacts white communities but when it impacts the black community “it’s not worth dealing with.” 
Sam Wernsdorfer, Roland Park Middle School Student, commented, “Something that really stood out for me was when Donald Trump tried to speak Spanish. He said ‘hambre’ which means hunger in Spanish, instead of ‘hombre,’ which is what he meant.” Sam, thanks for making all Spanish teachers proud!  Our young debaters are incredibly detail-oriented and listen carefully in debate rounds. We are delighted that they are splicing up debate arguments, listening to both sides, and making thoughtful conclusions with what is presented.  This post-debate analysis is intriguing and we hope to keep all of you updated on their thoughts post-election.  Thanks for your input Karis and Sam!


BUDL’s Debate 101 Workshops held its second session on October 20th. The session was led by a substitute alum debate extraordinaire, Nathan McTeer.  Substituting for the wonderful Iggy Evans, Nathan led a session of eight students from Western and Fredrick Douglass High Schools covering debate structure, strengthening cases, best practices to catch judges’ attention, and other novice issues.  If students would like to join and attend Debate 101 workshops with Iggy, Nathan, and others, connect with HS Program Manager, Aram Boykin at for more information.

On Friday, October 21st, college students from the John Hopkins University provided debate and college preparation help for BUDL students. This session is the first of a year long partnership with the students at JHU.  
We are excited about the opportunity for our students to receive one-on-one help from students of one of the premier institutions in the world.  
Thank you Vijay Ramasamy and friends for your partnership.  Be sure to keep a lookout for all of our Debate 101 workshop partners, supporters, and coaches in upcoming tournaments and say hello!


ems-2Join us on Saturday, OCT 29th for a Halloween costumed tournament held at Roland Park Elementary. It’s not too late to sign up and volunteer to become a debate judge and hear our elementary and middle school students debate on vacant housing in Baltimore.  E-mail EMS Program Manager Leslie B. Stanton at to get involved!
If you can’t make it this Saturday and are interested in debates on diplomatic and engagement between the U.S. and China, come judge High School Tournament #3 on NOV 12th. Connect with HS Program Manager Aram Boykin for more details at

Get ready to be amazed by our awesome debaters! Join us as a volunteer debate judge and listen to the powerful voices of our youth. Their passionate debates will make you think twice about what you think and know about vacant housing in Baltimore City.  If you can’t make it out to the first tournament, please come check us out on these other dates:
-EMS Tournament #2 – OCT 29  – Roland Park EMS
*Please wear Halloween costumes on Oct. 29 and get festive!
-HS Tournament #3 – NOV 12 (Check with Aram for location and times).
-EMS Tournament #3 – NOV 19 – Roland Park EMS
-HS Tournament #4- DEC 17 (Check with Aram for location and times).





Mahatma Ghandi said to “be the change that you wish to see in the world”. Other organizations use October to rally others into service in observance of this sentiment. We see Ghandi’s idea through debate! Actual change does not happen except through debate. Sometimes that debate is within ourselves as we seek to change habits. Other times, it is with others as we consider the status quo and its limitations. For change to be effective, we must engage in the debate with people who think differently from us. This makes our actions stronger. While there are things to celebrate, there are many needing change. This month, let’s use debate to lead the change! See something that needs to change? Start talking about it with others. Generate ideas. Act. Be the change.
~Coleen Reyes


Without you, BUDL could not provide after-school programming and competitive debate tournaments for students across the District.  Give a gift to BUDL and support the good work happening in Baltimore. Share us with friends and tell them about how debate matters in your life. 
Thank you for the debate love!

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The Thanksgiving holiday is just a few days away and we are so thankful for you!  You <3 debate and we love you for it!  Giving Tuesday is on the 1st of December and we hope you save the date and participate in this wonderful national day of giving.  Your contribution makes a difference!  Donate today and help us reach our goal this Giving Tuesday!  Thank you!  #givingtuesday #iheartbudldebate

Fundraising Websites – Crowdrise

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Make JUNE 30th not just the last day of our fiscal year, but the first day of a young person’s journey of self discovery!

June 30th is the last day in our current fiscal year. Your support of BUDL today helps us to extend our reach this summer and give more students the opportunity to attend BUDL’s B’More Debate Camp for free!! By giving a gift to BUDL today you open a door of opportunity for our students and help BUDL to encourage and grow tomorrow’s changemakers! Help us end our year by celebrating our students and letting them know we believe in their promise. With the school system’s impending budget cuts, BUDL counts on support from friends like you to ensure that opportunities like debate don’t disappear when times are tough and students need us the most! Thank you for being the champions our kids need to succeed!

Thanks to your support today:

  • BUDL will provide FREE, FUN and FUTURE changing summer debate camp to elementary, middle, and high school students on the campus of Johns Hopkins University this August!
  • BUDL will reach over 650 students from over 30 schools across the city through our after school Competitive Debate Program and over 15,000 students in classrooms across the City with our ‘It’s Debatable’ professional development program for classroom teachers.
  • Students will be part of a community of support with high expectations, rigor and the support they need to propel them to graduation day and beyond.
  • Baltimore’s youth are leading the way with their VOICES, their PURPOSE and their POWER!

Give Online: Donate Securely with Paypal
Give by Phone: Call the BUDL Office at 410-752-2835 ext. 101
Give by Mail: Make checks payable to “Baltimore Urban Debate League, Inc.” or “BUDL”
Mail to:
Baltimore Urban Debate League
2601 N. Howard Street, Suite 150
Baltimore, MD 21218

(Gifts for the Baltimore Urban Debate League, Inc., a 501(c)(3) organization are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.)

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BUDL Exclusive: Interview with City Bloc

We learned through last month’s protests that debate skills play a role in real-life empowerment, but where do we go from here? Debaters and City Bloc founders Makayla Gilliam-Price and Joseph Gaylin have an idea. They lead us through the beginnings and the future of their organization for student activism in this BUDL Exclusive.