Volunteer Opportunity: Were You a High School or College Debater?

The Boston Bar Association is seeking lawyers and law firm professional staff with policy debate experience to volunteer as mentors for the Boston Debate League. The mentors will help support academic debate leagues in Boston Public High Schools (BPS) while expanding the pipeline of racially and ethnically diverse young people who may choose to become lawyers.

Students participating in BDL compete in policy debate, which is a form of competition in which two teams of two students advocate for or against a policy change by the federal government. This year, the students will be debating about the following topic: "Should the United States federal government should substantially increase its economic engagement toward Cuba, Mexico, or Venezuela?"

Why become a Boston Debate League Mentor? The commitment is significant but gratifying: From September through March, volunteer mentors will attend a weekly, after school debate practice session lasting one hour. Working consistently with coaches and a team of students at the weekly practice, mentors will help debaters cultivate their debate skills. As a mentor, you can provide essential support to coaches and can also become an integral part of the team.  All volunteers must submit to a CORI check and participate in a two hour training seminar to qualify for the program.

Why make the commitment? Urban debate programs make a significant impact in the lives of participating students:

• Debaters are three times less likely to drop out of school than non-debaters
• African-American males who debate, in particular, are 70 per more likely to graduate from high school than those who don't.
• Urban debaters improved both their Reading and English ACT scores by 15 percent
• Urban debaters are 34 percent (English) and 74 percent (Reading) more likely to achieve the college readiness benchmarks after just two years in debate.

For more information, please contact Katie D’Angelo, Public Service Programs Coordinator, at kdangelo@bostonbar.org.