The Glenn Pelham Foundation has impacted the lives of over 75,000 students


  • Higher Grades

    Participating in competitive debate among high school students is associated with significant gains in cumulative grade point average.

  • Advanced Reading

    Nationwide educational studies demonstrate debate’s dramatic effect on students’ reading scores.

  • Better Communication

    Research indicates debaters are better at the components of good communication than students who have not had debate experience and that debate training improves interpersonal communication skills, as well as public speaking competence.

  • Critical Thinking

    Sixty years of critical thinking studies conclude that students with argumentation training significantly outscore control groups with no such training.

  • Boosted Confidence

    High school debate gives students greater self-esteem and they prefer conflict resolution through conversation over aggression.

  • Social Awareness

    Without exaggeration, the amount of scholarly material that college debaters master on a given topic is comparable to what many universities accept as dissertation-level research. One study demonstrated that debate experience qualified as an introduction to the social sciences.

  • Community Leadership

    Combined, the skills debate offers its participants work as foundation training for successful leadership. A list of leaders in business, politics, military, law, and education reveals the impact that debate has upon our society. A few of the most notable examples include Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Hilary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Phil Gramm, Malcolm X, Lawrence Tribe, Antonin Scalia, Benjamin Mays, Sam Alito, Lee Iacoca, David Bloom, James Q. Wilson, Leslie Stahl, Barbara Jordan, and Ted Turner, to name but a few.

  • College Attendance

    Participation in debate is strongly associated with graduating from high school and attending college regardless of race or socio-economic standing. Research indicates 90% of students in urban debate programs graduate from high school and 75% matriculate to college, compared with significantly lower rates for non-debate students. Over 100 colleges and universities now recruit out of Urban Debate League populations.

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The Results Speak For Themselves

Hear from Glenn Pelham Foundation program students, educators, and alumni about how debate impacted their lives

There’s a bunch of things that debate can give you, but two of the most important are self-confidence and an understanding of the world around you.

Middle School Debate Student

Policy debate is a great opportunity for students to stay abreast of current events that affect society as a whole. It gives students a sense of pride knowing that they are able to have a stimulating conversation without bias to their age group.

High School Debate Coach

In sixth grade I was a shy girl with no self confidence. Debate has helped me gain confidence, learn to think critically, meet new people, and work on my public speaking skills.

Middle School Debate Student

[S]tudents who exhibit challenging behavior during the day, come alive during debate

High School Teacher

Policy debate provides students excellent skills in organization, reading comprehension and interpretation, logic, and argumentation. Debaters are challenged to overcome public speaking fears as they work as a team in an academic context.

Debate Center Instructor

[Debate] has helped me learn skills necessary to engage with other people and have the critical reading skills to ensure that school is a breeze.

High School Debate Student

[Debate] really helps the students be able to think critically and on their feet

Debate Instructor

I believe it is one of the best activit[ies] to encourage global comprehensive thought

Middle School Teacher

[My] debaters have become more confident, discerning, and detailed students

Middle School Debate Teacher

I believe it should be a part of all classes

High School Student

[Debate] promotes understanding of global issues while also improving confidence, work ethic, and vocabulary

High School History Teacher