Providing Urban Students Academic Enrichment
DEBATE-Kansas City (DKC) makes excelling at academics fun and rewarding for students across the Greater Kansas City area. Through tournament competition DKC harnesses the excitement of team sports to inspire students to spend countless hours preparing research, constructing arguments and then engaging in complex debates against their peers. We believe all students, but especially those at struggling schools, need access to the critical thinking, communication and research skills that debate provides.
DKC is a non-profit organization that partners with the University of Missouri Kansas City and local schools to form one of 20 Urban Debate Leagues across the country. Last year 789 students from 34 area middle and high schools participated in 13 debate competitions managed by DKC. Over the past three years student participation in our league has increased 150% and without support from Mentors these gains would not have been possible.
Mentoring is a critical element of DKC program success and that is embodied in DKC’s partnership with Mentors. Once students have gained confidence and experience in DKC’s debate league they are expected to mentor younger debaters and pass along their knowledge. Mentors has provided support for 272 students to be part of DKC over the past two years and 1,800 hours of mentoring. Mentors scholarships enabled students from eight schools to receive DKC services, which include tournament management, workshops, coach training, research support and of course, mentoring. Debaters sponsored by Mentors had an impressive average GPA of 3.6 and this season a pair of Mentors scholarship awardees had a debate season for the ages.
Monica Medeiros and Ellen Baker made Missouri debate history by becoming the only recorded policy debate team to compete at three national tournaments in the same season. At the Urban Debate Nationals they placed third and Monica was named the best speaker in the country, while Ellen was the fourth best speaker. They advanced to elimination rounds at the Catholic National Forensic League Tournament and became just the second team in their school’s (Lincoln Prep) history to qualify to the National Speech and Debate Tournament. Along the way they were mentored by one of the first two students from Lincoln Prep to qualify to the national tournament, Corey Fisher. Over the season Corey provided nearly 200 hours of debate mentoring by giving research support, listening to countless practice debates and traveling with Lincoln Prep to a half dozen tournaments, including the national competitions.
DKC, our students, mentors, and schools all appreciate the commitment Mentors is making to empowering people as they work to achieve their life goals.