The Boston Debate League (BDL) was founded in 2005 to offer Boston’s students access to debate and the transformational skills it cultivates. Since then, this small non-profit has annually engaged hundreds of middle and high school students in after school competitive debate programs and thousands of K-12 students through sustained coaching for their teachers and school leaders. An ally of school systems as it works to bring debate-inspired learning into classrooms across all curricular areas, BDL has become ever more broadly influential. Through professional development activities for teachers and school leaders along with support for rigorous after school debate teams and competitions, BDL provides coherent, sustained programs that promote the power of young people, analytic discourse, racial and social equity, and joy in life-long learning.
BDL’s work with students, debate coaches, and teachers in public schools is guided by research-driven principles of a strong education—authentic student voice and discussion, cognitive rigor, 21st century skills like critical thinking and communication, and high expectations for all students. BDL is deeply committed to serving students of color and other students who have been denied educational opportunities. Its programs, which are tailored to address educational inequities and strive to create inclusive learning communities, engage elementary, middle, and high school students, including students of color, English Language Learners, students experiencing poverty, and students with special education needs.