Perspectives was founded in 2005 to promote youth debate. Debate teaches students critical thinking and public speaking skills that helps students achieve in school and beyond. Through arguing both sides of a topic, students learn about the pressing social, political, and economic issues of our time, from globalization to human rights, and become engaged citizens and social activists. Perspectives’ work has been recognized by Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Philadelphia Mayor-Elect Michael Nutter as a valuable organization for students. Perspectives is creating a new model by making debate education available to all students and expanding students’ personal and intellectual horizons.
The Need for Debate
In many classrooms, particularly those in urban settings, students are disengaged and have untapped potential. Debate programs engage students in active, open-ended learning environments. Debating provides a forum for youth to channel their energies, receive recognition for work, and build a solid academic foundation. Moreover, Perspectives Volunteers, who are college students, are excellent role models, and as former debaters themselves, they are living proof of the value of debate. Students who are disinterested become enlightened; students who are normally shied are encouraged to speak; and students who feel powerless gain confidence in their abilities.
Specifically, debate (1) Creates a safe learning environment for students and boost youth morale (2) Increases high school achievement (3) Bridges the gap to college (4) Builds a foundation for civic leadership.
Summer debate camp—For three summers, Perspectives has run the #1 nonprofit Lincoln-Douglas debate program in the country, the Philadelphia Debate Institute. 100% of students have gone on to attend college, and our first college-going class of students earned half a million dollars in scholarships.
Afterschool Programming—Perspectives currently works with 10 public and charter schools in the City of Philadelphia. Perspectives provides free coaches and materials, and engages students through afterschool practices, Saturday Seminars, and special institutes.
Voices of Philadelphia Debate Tournament—This is an exciting city-wide tournament. Last year, students competed for $20,000 in college scholarships, and the chief judge for the final round was Jerome Shestack, former President of the American Bar Association.