The Florida Civics and Debate Initiative Opens Application Period for New Debate Teams


TALLAHASSEE, Fla., March 25, 2022 – The Florida Department of Education and the Florida Civics and Debate Initiative (FCDI) invite new applications from Florida schools and districts interested in establishing a new middle or high school debate team during the upcoming 2022-2023 school year. This year, FCDI hopes to establish debate teams in all 67 counties in Florida.

Applications will be accepted through midnight on April 19, 2022. All Florida traditional public or public charter middle or high schools are eligible to apply.

“Being involved in debate empowers Florida students to develop important problem-solving, communication and critical thinking skills so they can advocate for themselves and become great citizens,” said Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran. “Students who are active in civics and debate perform better in school and are more likely to go to college. We’re thrilled to see such incredible momentum and growth in this program, and Florida will surely benefit from it for generations to come.”

The FCDI will select at least 50 applications to participate in the program by May 6, 2022. Selected schools will receive funds to support the creation of a debate team, professional development opportunities for coaches, curricular resources and funding to offset transportation costs for team travel to competitions.

Accepted schools will also gain membership into the National Speech and Debate Association, the nation’s oldest and largest speech and debate honor society. The membership provides access to research platforms and databases, as well as guidance for coaches to build, strengthen and support their teams.

“When students practice and compete in debate, they are not only more likely to perform better in school, but they are building skills that will serve them well throughout the rest of their lives,” said Florida Civics and Debate Initiative Director Beth Eskin.

Currently, there are more than 150 teams in 48 school districts across Florida as part of FCDI. This represents exponential growth since this program was launched in 2020, when there were just 11 school districts in Florida that participated in competitive debate.

Teams are divided into six regions in Florida with ambassadors for each region who support the establishment of new programs, lead trainings, foster recruiting and mentor new coaches. Each region’s ambassador also operates monthly tournaments for the teams to compete.

The FCDI hosted the Inaugural National Civics and Debate Championship in November 2021 in Orlando, Florida. The tournament was a three-day event with over 150 students representing 26 teams. They competed in Congressional Debate, Extemporaneous Debate, Impromptu Speaking and Extemporaneous Sports Analysis.

The National Civics and Debate Championship is the only one of its kind, and it is a critical component of FCDI. The second National Civics and Debate Championship will take place November 11 through 13, 2022, in Orlando, and all FCDI teams will be invited to compete.

FCDI is made possible through a combination of a state appropriation and a private grant which provided $5 million to launch the initiative.

The application form for schools to join the FCDI during the 2022-2023 school year is available at:

About the Florida Civics and Debate Initiative

The Florida Civics and Debate Initiative’s mission is to create access and opportunities for all students to have the best civics education including curriculum, debate programs and high-quality teachers that are catalysts for students becoming great citizens who can preserve our constitutional republic for future generations. It introduces students to real-world issues and allows them to participate in the democratic process.

For more information about the Florida Civics and Debate Initiative, visit