The BDL and the After-School Debate League

The BDL is a non-profit organization that partners with about 35 of Boston’s public middle and high schools to engage students in debate as an after-school activity.

During the 2015-2016 Tournament Season, we served more than 900 students and benefited from the support of more than 800 volunteers. The BDL is one of 22 urban debate leagues nationwide, and we have the largest debate teams in the nation, averaging 52 students per high school team and 29 per middle school team. Debate builds confidence, self-efficacy, intellectual curiosity and creativity, and inspires students to engage more deeply in their education. It is our goal to make debate a signature element of what it means to be a Boston Public School student.

Policy Debate

Policy debate starts with a resolution that calls for a policy change by the United States federal government. There are two teams of students who argue either the affirmative or negative of the resolution. In policy debate, the quality of the argument is more important than the style or rhetoric.


Our largest volunteer role are tournament judges. In this role, you serve as the decision maker as students use evidence to convince you to vote for or against a plan. No prior experience in debate is necessary, and training is provided on site before every 4-to-6 hour shift. Generally, volunteers listen to students debate and provide feedback at the end on how they can improve as debaters.

BDL 16-17-tournament-schedule-registration-link

Alicia Adamson
Director of Philanthropy & External Affairs  

225 Friend Street, Suite 401 Boston, MA 02114
Office: 857-239-9549
Cell: 617-959-0867