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COVID-19: Updates and Plans ›

Introducing All-New MNUDL Merchandise!

Wear Your Support: Introducing New MNUDL Merchandise!

Just in time for the holidays, we’re launching our new Bonfire store.

Bonfire is helping us raise money for the Minnesota Urban Debate League through merchandise sales. Purchase one of our unique MNUDL items, and you’ll receive them through the mail!

Visit the MNUDL Bonfire Store & order your merch early today!

Get a sneak peek of our items and order early!

Continue reading “Introducing All-New MNUDL Merchandise!”

Youth Programs to Support on Indigenous People’s Day

Today marks Indigenous People’s Day in the United States. President Biden has proclaimed today as a new holiday to “celebrate the invaluable contributions and resilience of Indigenous peoples, recognize their inherent sovereignty, and commit to honoring the Federal Government’s trust and treaty obligations to Tribal Nations.”

American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians have made incredible contributions to our world, while facing incalculable adversity through systemic oppression. We have named some of the community’s resilient, powerful leaders in our article about debate alumnae.

Today, we want to uplift and celebrate organizations working with the next generation of Indigenous changemakers. Please engage with them- show your support to them through donations, volunteering, and uplifting their messages on social media.

There are many folks doing great work in Minnesota. Let us know who we should add to the list at!

Continue reading “Youth Programs to Support on Indigenous People’s Day”

Washburn Debater Charlie Schmit Named MYC Member

Charlie Schmit, Washburn HS Debater, Named to Minnesota Youth Council

Washburn Debater Charlie Schmit

Washburn High School sophomore, Charlie Schmit, was named a member of the Minnesota Youth Council.

The Minnesota Youth Council (MYC) is a collaborative of youth leaders that mobilizes their fellow middle and high school peers across the state to create equitable systems through youth led outreach, education, and advocacy. Minnesota Youth Council members focus their impact on four issue areas: Health and Wellness, Environmental Justice, Education Equity, and Juvenile Justice.

Charlie tells us,

“I joined the MYC as a place to help better my community around me. Some areas I want to improve would be public education, specifically in the Minneapolis public school system ,and working towards a better cleaner environment. A specific goal, environment-wise, would be ending the building of the Line 3 tars sands oil pipeline. But really, all I want to do is help improve the lives of everyone around me. (Also, I will always be a debater!)”


Charlie also looks forward to resuming his time competing on the Washburn Debate Team, where he will also have a chance to engage in environmental issues. This year’s topic is water resources.

“I look forward to hopefully having in person debates this year because I really miss those! I’m also really looking forward to learning about a whole new topic. This year’s topic is awesome. It’s an important issue I’m not educated on enough, so hopefully debating about it will help me learn some new info.” 


Let’s wish Charlie the best of luck as he pursues his vision for Minnesota on the Minnesota Youth Council, and for this season competing as a Washburn Miller. As he says, “Let’s get this bread!”

Your support helps students like Charlie sharpen the skills they need to engage in leadership within our community. Volunteer to help judge debates today, or support debate with a gift. 

Judge Debates At Home Or In Person This Season!

Debate Judges

Volunteer Virtually OR In-Person This Season!

This fall, the Minnesota Urban Debate League has virtual and in-person debate judging options! See our full tournament schedule and sign up today:

Fall Tournament Dates:

  • 9/25: MDTA Jamboree (Virtual)
  • 10/2: Lakeville (Virtual)
  • 10/8: UMN (Virtual) & 10/9: (In Person, UMN Campus)
  • 10/16: Northside Invitational (In Person)
  • 10/29: Roseville (Virtual) & 10/30 (In Person, Roseville)
  • 11/5: Farmington (Virtual) & 11/6 (In Person, Farmington)
  • 11/12: Highland Park (Virtual) & 11/13 (In Person, Highland Park)
  • 11/20: UMBrooks (In Person, UMN Campus)
  • 12/11: MNUDL Championships (Virtual) & 12/12 (In Person)

The high school national topic policy season has begun. We need judges to make it happen! Debate judges listen to students, share feedback, and choose the winner. No experience is needed – we train judges at every tournament.


Sign up to judge today! 


Plus, if you’re interested in learning more about our special paid judging opportunities for experienced policy debaters, contact Jake Swede at

Join Us for Our 9th Annual Mayors Challenge: The Great Water Debate

The Great Water Debate: MNUDL Mayors Challenge 2021

Join Our Fun & Informative Virtual Event Demonstrating the Power of Debate!

The Minnesota Urban Debate League is proud to present our 9th annual Mayors Challenge Debate Fundraising Breakfast: The Great Water Debate. This event will be hosted virtually by Augsburg University.

Four of our debaters from Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Roseville school districts will face off in two teams, articulating arguments on how we steward one of our greatest resources – water.

Our VIP panel of judges (and you!) will pick the most persuasive team.

You will also see how the MNUDL creates new opportunities for our students to be champions – both in and out of the classroom.

Governor Tim Walz (Invited) and Minnesota First Lady Gwen Walz will host the Governor’s table. Mayor Melvin Carter, Mayor Jacob Frey, and special guests will judge our debate. You have a chance to join them as a VIP judge with your sponsorship!

Schedule of Events

8:30 am: Virtual Program Begins
– Debate & Student Panel
– Champion of Change

9:40 am: Decision by Mayor Carter, Mayor Frey and Panel

10:00 am: Program Concludes

For more information about sponsorship opportunities and how to register, check out Augsburg University’s Advancement Page.

Student Coach Named to 2021-22 USA Debate Team

USA Debate Team Members

Eric Li from Eagan Senior High School is a great part of the MN Urban Debate League community & was the student coach for the Sanford Middle School debate team last year. He was named the 2021 Student Coach of the Year for his dedication and expertise. Learn more about his perspective on coaching here. 

Now, Eric will help train the 2021-22 USA Debate Team members, allowing them to refine and develop their skills at the highest level! Congratulations, Eric!

We also want to send a shout out to the New York City Urban Debate League and Houston Urban Debate League students who made these teams!

For more breaking news items like this, follow our social media channels: 

Facebook | LinkedIn | Twitter | Instagram

Join Our Back-to-Debate 2021 Supply Drive!

Back to Debate Supply Drive

We’re planning to shift back to in-person programming with COVID-19 precautions in place- which means we need new supplies!

Help us meet the moment by donating new or gently used supplies, including:

  • Expanding file folders
  • 1-inch+ binders
  • Highlighters
  • Sticky notes
  • Legal pads
  • Black, blue, and red pens

Check out our Amazon wishlist & help us equip our high school national topic debaters by the first tournament on September 25th! 

If you or your workplace have gently-used supplies, please contact us at so we can set up a time for pickup/dropoff.

Help debaters get the supplies they need for whatever the 2021-22 season brings! 

Or, make a flexible cash or check donation. $25 covers the entry fees for a student’s first debate tournament! Become a one-time or monthly giver now and you’ll set more students up for success in the first season.

Celebrating Our Stellar Seniors! Spotlight on ’21 Debate Graduates

Congrats Grads

It’s been another challenging year of doing virtual school throughout the pandemic, but our students finished strong. They’ve demonstrated hope and resilience in the face of a tumultuous year.

Five of our program’s graduates are sharing their future plans with you. Let’s send them our best wishes as they set out on their next step.

Continue reading “Celebrating Our Stellar Seniors! Spotlight on ’21 Debate Graduates”

Student Spotlight: Raniya Abawari


Raniya Abawari: A High-Flying Maverick

Raniya Portrait
Raniya poses before a virtual East African Debate tournament.

Caption: Raniya poses before a virtual East African Debate tournament. 


Raniya Abawari is on a roll! In fall, Raniya Abawari won the top speaker award in the rookie division 5 times during the policy debate season. This spring, Raniya earned both the top speaker and top team award at the final East African Debate tournament. Oh- and she did it all while debating without a partner! 


Beyond excelling at tournaments, Raniya also used her persuasive skills and love of debate to help establish a new East African Debate team at Highland Park Senior High School. 


She drew upon her own experiences to persuade other students to join. We couldn’t say her elevator pitch better ourselves!


“I think you should join debate because of the skill set you acquire. You learn how to build arguments, speak in public, and it builds confidence. It’s not really about winning. I don’t care about winning and losing. The experience of debating in and of itself is cool. It also helps you think critically, so you can see both sides of things. That’s valuable for your future, whatever you go into.”


“We only had four people on the team this year,” Raniya tells us. “But I’m optimistic for next year, because we did well. If others see we can win, they’ll want to join.” 


The East African Debate Experience 


In our East African Debate, coaches from the East African community lead students in debating community-centric topics with an emphasis on problem solving. This year, students debated whether East African representation on the police force would improve community safety. 


“I like East African Debate because we can chime in about our own experiences. We’re all East Africans, so we’re all affected by the topic. It’s something we really believe in. It’s very applicable to our real world,” Raniya tells us.  


Demands for police reform dominated political conversations in this politically charged year. East African Debate offers an opportunity for students to cut through the noise and grapple with their own thoughts and feelings on the issue. Raniya shares, 


“Debate helps, because it made me see things from both sides of the story, even if I didn’t agree with it. If I knew what the other sides think, I could see the reasoning behind it or even disprove it. That helps me understand my own side better. It made me empathetic toward other people and be able to not see things at face value. I can see biases in what I’m reading.” 


Looking Ahead 


As a first-year debater, Raniya’s never had the chance to experience in-person tournaments. When she started, that was just fine with her: 


“Behind a screen, your confidence skyrockets. I’ll have to see next year if I get shy and nervous. I’ve gotten a lot of confidence, so I think I’ll be okay. I’ll have experience under my belt.” 


That confidence is Raniya’s main takeaway from her first year in debate: 


“My siblings are all very athletic and good at math. I can’t relate to that. Debate was the first thing that made me think, ‘I’m good at this, and I can improve.’”


Raniya is excited to debate in-person next year, but some things won’t change. 


“I’ve been going maverick all year! I actually really like debating alone. I like being in control of how the arguments are forming.” 


Whether Raniya keeps debating as a maverick or with a partner as we move back to in-person debate, we know her new-found skills and confidence will serve her well! 

Your gifts help us bring new teams into our debate community. Become a monthly giver today to help us sustain and grow our year-round debate programs!