Our History and Our Work

The St. Louis Urban Debate League (SLUDL) has grown to support thriving extra-curricular policy debate programs in as many as 12 high schools and 3 middle schools within the Saint Louis Public Schools District, as well as expanding to its first non-SLPS public school,  Confluence Preparatory Academy.

SLUDL was founded in 2008 with the purpose of developing and supporting debate programs in under served urban high schools in St. Louis City.  The League works directly with Principals and Teachers within each partnering school to ensure that Debate teams receive proper coaching and instruction, as well as the resources necessary to thrive. SLUDL is the only organization in St. Louis working to promote the value and need for debate programming in urban schools. We work with a nationwide network of similar Urban Debate Leagues (UDL’s), along with several suburban debate programs in St. Louis County, to provide our high school and middle school students the best opportunities for success through competitive policy debate – the oldest and arguably most rigorous debate format in the nation.

Our Work
The St. Louis Urban Debate League is committed to establishing and growing debate programming within urban schools throughout the metro area.  We fulfill our mission by providing the following:

Teacher-Coach Professional Development. Teachers are at the core of any Urban Debate League, and SLUDL is fortunate to have some incredibly energetic, patient, dedicated teachers who task themselves with learning how to effectively coach debate within their respective schools. In fact, most SLUDL coaches are not former debaters, but understand the value debate programming brings to their students, and ultimately, their broader school community.

Student Workshops. The League assists schools in student recruitment and student training throughout the season. Training includes topic-specific workshops, technical debate lessons, and more. All activities are tailored to fit the wide range of needs and skills among our debaters.

Tournament Administration. Debate tournaments are a central element of our program, giving students an opportunity to exercise their skills in a fun, competitive setting. Over the course of the academic year, SLUDL hosts six competitive debate tournaments, gathering students from all partnering schools. Research shows the direct correlation between the number of tournament rounds a debater competes in, and their motivation to remain actively involved in debate. The more competitive opportunities a debater has throughout the year, the more they are willing to “buy in” to the benefits and value of debate.

Advocacy and Fundraising. The primary goal of SLUDL is to promote debate to our urban schools.  To that end, much of our behind the scenes activity is dedicated to advocating on behalf of new debate programs and initiatives, leveraging school district investments with privately-raised funds, and publicizing the great work our students and teachers are putting into their debate programs.