Silicon Valley Urban Debate League – Grantee

Silicon Valley Urban Debate League (SVUDL) elevates life outcomes for low-income high school students in Silicon Valley through the academically rigorous sport of debate.

SV2’s funding helped SVUDL develop an evaluation framework. Success measures include debate teams’ size and demographic composition, numbers reached each school, tournament participation, skill development (including GPA improvement), graduation rates and college attendance and persistence rates.

Currently, SVUDL debaters are 85% of color and 70% low-income. Additionally, 100% of SVUDL seniors graduated high school and entered college over the past two years. SVUDL is on track to meet that benchmark for a third consecutive year! In 2018, SVUDL expanded to seven new schools, bringing the total number of school partnerships to #11.

Healthy debate and teamwork have long-lasting outcomes on students’ life outcomes.

To illustrate an example of a long-lasting outcome, in the words of Bhargavi Bhatt, a SVUDL alumna, current UCLA undergraduate and budding lawyer herself:

“I would have never truly known that law is something I can realistically do. This is the impact of SVUDL. It’s taking a 16-year-old or an 18-year-old and putting them in a space where they can express themselves. Giving them the resources they need to make the decision for themselves that determines their life path. And that’s why I decided to intern at SVUDL this past year because SVUDL changed my life, and I wanted to see first-hand it change someone else’s life…you know, the life of another unsuspecting 16-year old…”

SVUDL recently completed a Listen4Good initiative to get and action feedback from its tournament participants; this resulted in immediate improvements to the quality of the tournament experience. This initiative was funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and channeled through SV2.

To better understand more long-lasting outcomes, SVUDL is currently owning and designing its impact assessment approach. This past December, SVUDL has also onboarded a new and promising Executive Director – Rolland Janairo.

“SV2 has generously invested in critical areas of need within our organization. Their financial support has allowed us to grow to new sites, enabled us to collect better and more actionable data around our impact, and empowered us to strengthen our programmatic model of delivery. What’s more, many of their team members have attended our events, volunteering their time to support and give feedback to our students during live tournaments. We’re appreciative of their ongoing support, and know the groundwork inspired by SV2 over the past few years will inform our strategic growth over the next few years.” – SVUDL