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Community Impact Report 2021

In the midst of uncertain times, our community remained focused on supporting a new generation of leaders. Our collective commitment to innovation, access, and equity allowed students to engage in speech and debate anywhere in the world. Whether they were competing or using their skills to serve their communities, our students had opportunities to shine. And wow, did they shine. Join us in celebrating the impact of speech and debate in 2021 and the students, coaches, administrators, and supporters who made it possible.

J. Scott Wunn - Executive Director


Speech and debate activities provide students with a space to connect, compete, and use their voice. Despite distancing guidelines, we were still able to connect with each other through the speech and debate community!

Through speech and debate, I learned what it meant to belong to a community. This is where I made lifelong friendships and discovered who I am.

Theia Szymanski

2021 National Student of the Year

National Tournament

After a year of virtual speech and debate, the 2021 National Tournament was again held online. Students and coaches across the world showed up to compete in the largest National Tournament yet!

2021 National Speech and Debate Virtual Tournament June 14 - 20, 2021 - 7,596 Competitors, 1,617 Middle School and High Schools, 4,057 Supplemental Event Entries, 2 New Events (Original Spoken Word/Pro-Con Challenge), 76,451 Livestream Views
National Speech and Debate Tournament 2021 Circle of Champions graphic of competitors on computer screens virtually
NSDA Campus is an online platform offering team practice space and tournament hosting space at a low cost.

Making sure every student continues to have access to speech and debate activities is a top priority for our organization. NSDA Campus continued to host online competitions throughout the 2020-2021 school year. Since May 2020, NSDA Campus has facilitated more than 100,000 rooms of competition!

We were going to have to raise our prices substantially to use a different platform, but we were actually able to lower our prices and make the tournament more accessible to students because of the affordability of NSDA Campus.

Tournament Host 2,700 + Tournaments Hosted in the 2020-2021 School Year!

As more tournaments were held online, continued to support increased traffic, rolled out new features, and allowed students to compete from anywhere.


We provide the resources to support your journey, whether you’re a new team or have been at it for years! We are also here to answer any questions you might have along the way.

4.7 Hours - Email Resolution Teim, 9,731 Total Calls, 22,400 Total Emails, 93.8% Customer Satisfaction

Customer Service Testimonials

The NSDA was responsive, organized, and helpful.

I called with a lot of concerns and questions, and they patiently walked me through every step and every process. I love their cheerful and helpful attitude, patience, and outstanding customer service! Thank you from our school, we are thankful!

Setting Teams Up For Success

We’re experts in prep time. This year, we launched our Start Here series, a collection of grab-and-go lesson plans for middle and high school speech and debate coaches to use in class or after school. Our monthly resources for practice, performance videos, and instructional tools are all designed to streamline your team management and take as much work off your plate as possible. We are committed to providing resources that support you along your journey with speech and debate.

Top Five Resources - 1)Final Round Videos, 2)Topic Analyses and Evidence Briefs, 3)Lesson Plans, 4)Extemp Practice Questions, 5)Congress Dockets

Meeting Your Needs

We continue to provide financial support to speech and debate teams across the country! In 2020-2021, more than $325,000 was awarded to teams and students through grants and scholarships.

More than $325,000 Was Awarded to Teams and Students Through Grants and Scholarships. Grants and Direct Program Support, Scholarships, Big Questions.
NSDA ONLINE Springboard Series: free events presented by the Julia Burke Foundation

In order to support increased access to speech and debate, we launched the Springboard Series in October 2020. This series allowed access to free competition opportunities for students across the country! Thanks to the generosity of The Julia Burke Foundation, we will continue to host these events throughout the 2021-2022 school year. 

Upholding Community Values

Honoring our mission to connect, support, and inspire a diverse community committed to empowering students, we strive diligently to ensure that the speech and debate community provides a safe space for all. Throughout the 2020-2021 school year, we worked to infuse an equity lens into a variety of things we do.

Explore the detailed action steps we took to meet these commitments!

1)The NSDA Will Update Organizational Core Documents to Reflect the Value of Equity. 2)The NSDA Will Highlight, Continue to Refine, and Promote Best Practices for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Within the Speech and Debate Community. 3)The NSDA Will Strive for Leadership at All Levels That Represents the Diversity of Our Speech and Debate Community. 4) The NSDA Will Celebrate Diversity and Inclusion Within the Speech and Debate Community. 5) The NSDA Will Continue to Provide and Promote Safe Spaces for Marginalized Groups to Meet.
6) The NSDA Will Continue to Strive for an Equitable and Representative Judging Pool at the National Tournament. 7)Over the Next Two Years, the NSDA Will Conceptualize a Judge Accreditation That Will Meet Local and National Judge Training Needs and Will Equip Local Tournament Directors With Actionable Steps to Create a Safer and More Equitable Speech and Debate Program. 8)The NSDA Will Develop Resources on Implementing an Effective Equity Office at Local and Regional Tournaments to Facilitate Safer and More Equitable Speech and Debate Environments. 9) The NSDA Will Run an Online Speech and Debate Tournament Series Free to NSDA Members. The NSDA Will Also Provide Donor Funded Subgrants to Schools to Help Increase Access to Speech and Debate.


Awards and recognition are an important part of our work to celebrate the inspired action you take throughout the year! This year, students, coaches, and schools earned distinction through speech and debate competition, academic excellence, community service, public speaking, and leadership activities.

I think the most important thing that we can do as speech and debaters is show others that their voice matters too.




Nirmit Chandan

Student of the Year Finalist

I love attending tournaments because it gives me an opportunity to perform and get feedback on my piece. I also love being able to watch other performers and laughing and reacting to their pieces. It is inspiring to see so many kids like me that enjoy doing speech and debate.

Alba Gilabert-Reid

Milton Academy Middle School, MA

65,000+ Total Degrees. Coach and Student. 151,682 Students, 3,237 Schools

Student Recognition

Celebrating students is a highlight of every year! Along with competitive success, we are excited to celebrate that over 315,000 service points were earned in the 2020-2021 school year. We are inspired by all your leadership, caring, and service throughout the year!

There are a lot of reasons for why I believe that speech and debate students should be advocates. For one, speech and debate, without a doubt, equips you with the skills and the tools necessary to be the best advocate, the ability to collect information, to articulate yourself in a way that is clear and understandable. Those skills make for the best form of advocacy.

Mya Harris

Student of the Year Finalist

More than 315,000 Service Points Were Earned Throughout The School Year!

Coach Recognition 

Coaches play an important role in this community, working tirelessly to support and inspire students through speech and debate activities. Despite a year of constant shifting, you all showed up to make speech and debate happen for your students. 

Here are just a few of the many coaches whose involvement we recognized this year.

Program Recognition

While gatherings looked different again this year, you all found ways to connect, support, and inspire each other! We’re thankful for everyone who took the time to find creative and safe ways to celebrate speech and debate.

112 Coach Service Awards, 25 All Americans, More Than 10,000 + Total Awards, 1,429 Academic All Americans, 215 Diamond Coach Awards
Classroom photo of a teacher with a large group of students
Group of students posing together in school

We look forward to reflecting on all the great things you will do in the upcoming year. Thank you for being a member of our community!

We Are Speech and Debate