Why Debate?

"What is so important about the UDL program is that it is not merely interested in teaching debating skills to students...instead, debating is viewed as a form of critical literacy that empowers students, especially underrepresented races, ethnicities, and females, not only with high-powered academic skills but also with the essential critical knowledge and beliefs necessary to convince them that they can become both effective advocates for democracy and leaders in a world that they must learn how to influence and goven."

- Professor Henry Giroux, McMaster University


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The Seattle/Northwest Debate Foundation (SDF) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit social justice organization committed to the critical literacy and empowerment of urban youth through debate education.

The SDF supports debate through the Seattle and Tacoma Urban Debate Leagues, partnering with public schools, colleges and universities, community centers and youth empowerment organizations to create competitive, sustainable debate teams as well as debating opportunities that can unite the community at-large.

The SDF partners with the Associated Leaders of Urban Debate (ALOUD) and is part of a 30-city network of speaking unions, colleges, urban debate leagues, universities and hip hop organizations committed to creating opportunities for debate and youth expression amoung underserved/underrepresented urban students.

One Pager Description of Programming

Benefits of Debate (for students, teachers, parents, businesses, communities, the nation)

Alignment with Essential Academic Learning Requirements

Electronic Press Kit

Through the Seattle and Tacoma Urban Debate Leagues students from under served urban schools-even those who are not top academic performers-can participate in competitive debate, and reap all of the accompanying intellectual and social benefits.

Teachers and administrators love debate because it:

* Enhances literacy skills
* Motivates students with a competitive format
* Provides opportunities for student-led learning
* Gives students exposure to post-secondary education and scholarships
* Enriches the in-school and after-school academic programming of the high school

Debate gives students the leg up by:

* Increasing critical and analytical thinking skills
* Promoting written and oral communication skills
* Sharpening research and computer skills
* Improving confidence in public speaking
* Teaching students to present their views effectively and resolve conflict with their intellect rather than with physical aggression
* Providing scholarship opportunities to attend four-year colleges and universities

The Debate Format

The Seattle & Tacoma Urban Debate Leagues employ the team policy debate format.

In policy debate, students formulate specific solutions to a policy problem of national importance. Teams of two students debate the national high school topic with each tournament. Students conduct research and prepare extensively prior to tournaments, where judges render decision based on the evidence presented and the quality of argumentation. Teams argue both the affirmative and negative sides fo the same topic and must be prepared to address and refute the opposing side's evidence.
Program Components

* Summer Institute scholarships at University of Washington and other national institutes
* Tournaments with trophies during school year
* Professional development workshops
* Regional, national, and international opportunities to compete
* Promotion of debate in Seatte & Tacoma, including mentoring at middle school debate programs and public demonstration debates

How to Get Involved

* Coach debate at one of our high schools
* Judge at Debate tournaments
* Work with students in debate classrooms
* Volunteer at tournaments
* Make a financial contribution
* Promote league activities in your community

For more information, please


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As SDF transitions to reach more students, there are local and national parties assisting with the process. 


Anjali Vats

Email: [email protected]


Pam Spiliadis

email: [email protected]

Will Baker

email: [email protected]


For general questions regarding the SDF and its programs, email .

Questions regarding development and fundraising should be directed to

For any additional questions or concerns, go to the page and fill out the contact form.

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Hip Hop Teaching Artists

Numerous artists from around the Pacific Northwest and the United States have contributed to the Seattle and Tacoma Urban Debate Leagues. Below is a list of many of the teaching artists who have dedicated countless hours to making an impact on our young people's lives by sharing their craft, wisdom and encouragement so that our youth see their future of endless possibilities:

  • Julie Chang Schulman, Northwest Regional Coordinator of Hip Hop Congress, Education Committee member of H2ed, Co-director of Reclaim the Media, member of Alpha P, Assistant Chapter Head of Zulu Nation from Seattle (206 Zulu), freelance journalist, and Co-host of Fresh Coast Radio KBCS 91.3 FM.
  • BeLoved 01, Performer, educator, community organizer, elementary school debate coach, dancer, poet, freelance journalist, and community activist.
  • Mic Crenshaw, Portland, Oregon Hip Hop artist/educator/activist, Co-founder of Global Family NetWork  
  • DJ B-Girl, has been a staple in the Seattle music scene since 2001. She is a DJ, breaker, producer, community organizer, teaching artist, Co-Host of B-Girl Bench, and Co-host of Fresh Coast Radio KBCS 91.3 FM.
  • DJ Miss Broadway, has been deejaying at Seattle dance clubs for over seven years and has also brought her field of expertise to the classroom teaching and inspiring our young ones.
  • DLabrie, President of Rondavoux Records and Northern California Director of Hip Hop Congress
  • Rajnii Eddins, A dynamic spoken word poet, emcee, teaching artist, community leader and Director of Debate Mt. Tahoma High School
  • Willie JR Fleming, a.k.a. I Am Hip Hop Chicago, Co-Chair of Music/Video/Promotions for CO-OP Entertainment, Chicago Regional Director for Hip Hop Congress, Human Rights Activist/Speaker/Video Production for Poor Peoples Human Rights Campaign and Coalition to Protect Public Housing
  • Jose Gutierrez Jr., a.k.a. Luvva J, teacher, writer, poet, em-cee, producer, director, youth advocate, Official DJ for Andre Nickatina, Steelo, The Silent Lambs Project & radio host of Live From I-5 Radio, Sac Town Radio & Warrior FM. Jose is also the Director of Debate for Lincoln High School.
  • Toni Hill, Soul, Hip Hop, Jazz performing and teaching artist. Her projects include: Sirens Echo, Hungry mob, Oldominion, The Chosen, The Lab, Black Notes, Liv & The Warfield Project, Randy Star & The Flirt Band and many more.
  • Laura "piece" Kelley, Seattle's only HBO Def Jam Poet, Seattle Grand Slam Champion 2004-5, she is an em-cee, educator, activist, co-founder of Aim-for-Piece, member of Seattle Arts Commission, Education Committee, and Executive Director of the Think Big Foundation.
  • Amos Miller, of 2o6 Vintage, has produced tracks for nearly all of Seattles hip hop and R&B talent, including Piece, Choklate, Silent Lamb Project and Vitamin D.
  • Asun Nicholas, OtherGounds Records, Performance/Teaching Artist for numerous organizations including H2ed, Cofounder of Project Mayhem (Seattle), member of Alpha P and 206 Zulu
  • Shamako Noble, President of Hip Hop Congress and Co-Director of H2Ed. He is an accomplished em-cee and poet and extensively involved in Hip Hop Promotions, Marketing, PR Media, Journalism and Grassroots Campaigns.
  • Radio Active, is an emcee, beatboxer, writer, painter, b-boy, musician and teaching artist. He has toured extensively throughout North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan as a member of the musical group Michael Franti & Spearhead and appeared on national television programs such as David Letterman, Craig Kilborne and on MTV with the critically acclaimed single/video “Rock The Nation.”
  • Silver Shadow D, a Seattle legend as an Underground Hip Hop/Dancehall performing artist, producer, writer, and recording engineer from Seattle, WA, Chief Engineer and Producer of SHADOW MUZIK and member of 206 Zulu.
  • Sistahailstorm, Southern Native Warrior member of Zulu Nation 206 and Rebel Alliance L.A.ometeohtl & nym from Lost Aztlan with a life time commitment to empowering and educating indegenous youth through the use of native traditional education, underground hip-hop, graffitti art, urban dance, traditional dance & singing.
  • Gabriel Teodros, Since the release of Lovework earlier this year, Gabriel Teodros reached the very top of the CMJ Hip Hop Charts, released two new music videos, was featured on NPR and in URB Magazine's "Next 100", and has been recieving rave reviews everywhere from Rolling Stone to Okayplayer.com.


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