Send YMP Debate to Nationals!

THE KIDS: I'm not quite sure I can encapsulate who our students are in such a brief format, but let me give it a shot. We have students from all kinds of family, cultural, and socio-economic backgrounds. The one unifying factor that runs through them all is that they are champions. No, not just in debate (though they are very accomplished in that as well), but in life. By all accounts (academic, culturally, linguistically, financially) these are students who are not expected to be doing what they are. When writing this, I took a moment to look at our main picture here, and I was reminded of the staggering stories many of these young men and women have. The things they have already overcome in their life is a testament to their perseverance and will. They have taken all of their disadvantages and turned it into their armor. They refuse to let their circumstance be an excuse, instead they use it as their strength. I have never been more proud of a group of young people. 

THE PROGRAM: YMP is an after school program at Kendall-Whittier Elementary. The program serves nearly 15% of the students at the school and thus the demographics of the program match closely with that of the school. This results in a largely impoverished and minority background. Students in the program stay after school for an extra three and half hours everyday. They spend each day doing homework and some kind of physical activity and enrichment. The enrichment activity that our fifth and sixth grade students participate in is Debate. 

WHAT IS DEBATE: Our students compete in the Tulsa Urban Debate League. It is a member of the larger National Urban Debate League. The league has given our students the opportunity to compete against similarly aged opponents from other schools across the district. If you're not familiar with debate it's like arguing with your friends, but in a more controlled manner.  Or at least that's how one of our debaters, Miguel Moreno described it: Our students have debated topics as serious as gun control to more cultural questions like paying college athletes. Debate asks students to step beyond mere arguing. Instead, they have to dig deep and understand the subtler aspects of a highly academic topic. This is quite the accomplishment for students from a school where only around 50% of the sixth grade students scored proficient in reading. Debate has pushed our students beyond what was expected even by themselves. Last year we placed second in the year long standings and this year we find ourselves in first with one tournament to go. 

WHAT WE ARE ASKING FOR: On the surface $3,000 can look like a big chunk of money, and it certainly is. However, we're not being frivolous about our budget. Here's exactly what you'd be paying for:

- Transportation to National Speech and Debate Association Nationals.

- Registration for teams in the national tournament.

- Lodging for the duration of the tournament (4 days). 

- Ideally, a minimal food budget for students as they are competing in the tournament. 

The goal would be to acquire these funds before the deadline for entry to the national tournament on April 24th, approximately one month from now. 

WHY SHOULD YOU GIVE: Our students come from a neighborhood where dreams are just that. Many come from homes where hopelessness is not a state of mind, but a state of being. Debate has become an outlet that has allowed our students to believe that dreams can be realities, that they are smart, that they can win, and that hard work pays off. In the beginning, they didn't believe those things and they certainly didn't believe they could compete with more prestigious schools across the city. But they proved themselves and many others wrong. Now, they have the opportunity to pursue something they could never have even imagined, competing and proving their worth on a national stage. This is a life changing opportunity for our students. 

If you want to change a life. If you want to be someone's champion today. This is your chance. 

  • Ruben Ramiro Prieto 
    • $150 
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  • Bethany Benz 
    • $25 
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  • Michael Wall 
    • $1,400 
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  • Mary Armstrong  
    • $30 
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  • Karina * 
    • $50 
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David Dotson 
Tulsa, OK
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