Member Login
Select Page

Activating Equity Award

The Activating Equity Award honors a group or organization that is dedicated to the enhancement of the ‘culture of equity’ in middle school and high school speech and debate. 

The recipient of the Activating Equity Award receives $5,000 to help them further their mission, along with recognition at the National Speech & Debate Tournament in June.

Activating Equity Award 2023: Win $5,000! Nominate or self-nominate today!

Why “Activating Equity?”

In alignment with our ongoing equity commitments, the Activating Equity Award acknowledges members of our community who have turned their convictions into action and strive to ensure fairness and justice in the context of speech and debate—both in round and beyond.

Some examples of what a group or organization could be doing to “activate equity” in speech and debate:

  1. Creating an organization dedicated to breaking down barriers to entry in speech and debate for marginalized identities.
  2. Creating educational resources and professional development sessions on equity, belonging, and inclusion for coaches as part of a summer coaches’ clinic.
  3. Developing a non-profit organization to provide forensic services for urban/rural children and organizations who do not have the chance to participate in forensics.
  4. Providing opportunities for speech and debate to middle and high school students who are deaf and hard-of-hearing.

Check out our Rostrum article on last years semi-finalists, finalists and winner.

Nomination and Selection

The Activating Equity Award is a nomination/self-nomination process. Groups who feel they meet the criteria are encouraged to apply. In addition, outside parties who feel that a particular group is worthy of nomination can do so as well.

All applications must be submitted by Friday, March 1, 2024. 

Priority will be given to: 

    • Collaborations with students—particularly students from traditionally underrepresented communities. 
    • Collaborations with local advocates and activists committed to social justice/social change.
    • Efforts designed to increase access to participation in speech and debate — especially for students facing financial barriers.
    • Partnerships with/service to groups who work in environments where funds and other resources for support are extremely limited or non-existent.
    • Actions taking place in spaces/places where social action is particularly needed.
    • Projects that are creative and visionary with anticipated long-term impact.


A committee of NSDA staff members will screen applications to determine semifinalists. A panel of NSDA member coaches and leaders will be assembled to vet applications and determine three finalists. The finalists will participate in a Zoom presentation and interview with the NSDA Governance Committee. Evaluation of applicants will be done using a rubric consisting of four categories. Each category is weighted based on significance to the award.

Learn more »


  • January 8, 2024: Nomination form opens
  • March 1, 2024: Nomination form closes
  • May 2024: Finalists announced
  • June 2024: Winner announced at Nats24

Award Eligibility

  • The Activating Equity Award cycle is 1 year. 
  • Nominees must be an organization, such as a school district, booster club, or other non-profit corporation. If selected for an award, the nominee must be able to provide a federal tax ID number for their organization to verify eligibility. Individuals are not eligible nominees.
  • Recipients of the award must wait a minimum of 5 years before they can re-apply (e.g. the earliest the 2025 winner can re-apply is 2030).
  • An organization is ineligible to apply for the Activating Equity Award if they: 
    • Employ NSDA staff or a member of the NSDA Board of Directors 
    • Have NSDA staff or Board members sitting on their Board of Directors

Nomination Form

A successful application will articulate how the group has pursued equity in speech and debate, aligned their actions, project, etc., with the NSDA’s mission and/or Core Value of Equity, as well as how they have created lasting impacts for marginalized communities. If you are self-nominating, enter your information in both the nominator and nominee sections.


Nominator Name(Required)
Nominee Point of Contact Name(Required)
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Town Hall

Activating Equity Award Town Hall

NSDA Director of DEI Dr. Paul Porter will be joined by our 2023 award recipient, AnnMarie Baines, Executive Director of The Practice Space. Learn more about the nomination process, evaluation rubric, and selection timeline. Get all of your questions answered!


What is the process?

The selection process and timeline is as follows:

  • A committee of NSDA staff will evaluate the nominations and selects semifinalists.
  • A 5-7-person committee of coaches, NSDA staff, members of the NSDA Board of Directors, and speech and debate alumni will evaluate and score the semifinalists. The top 3 candidates will advance to the final round.
  • The final round takes place in early May, with members of the NSDA Governance Committee serving as the selection panel. The finalists will each give a short presentation around a prompted question. Time is also allotted for questions from the panel. Once the presentations are complete, the panel will debrief and select a winner.
  • The winner of the Activating Equity Award will be announced at the National Tournament in June.

Please feel free to contact if you have any questions.

What constitutes a group?

Nominees must be an organization, such as a school district, booster club, or other non-profit corporation. If selected for an award, the nominee must be able to provide a federal tax ID number for their organization to verify eligibility. Individuals are not eligible nominees.

Do all members of the group have to be NSDA members?

No, NSDA membership is not required.

Why is this a group award and not an individual award?

This award is designed to recognize the efforts of more than one individual in creating long-term sustainability of efforts in equity within the speech and debate community.

Does the group have to be established?

Yes. The group must have the ability to legally receive a $5,000 award as a legal entity.

Are there specifics on how the $5,000 must be spent?

The award is meant to further the cause of the group. It can be used as the group sees fit to do so. 

Can students apply?

Student groups can apply, but the entity they represent must be able to legally receive the cash award.