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Equity Commitments

NSDA Equity Commitments 2023-2024

Our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion stems from a philosophy that all members of our organization deserve the opportunity to participate in competitive speech and debate in ways that align with our mission. NSDA members deserve a caring and welcoming environment—one that is committed to conditions of fairness, fosters inclusion, affirms identity, celebrates lived experiences, and protects from harassment and discrimination. 

  • We all have the responsibility to be good stewards of the activity.
  • Our students deserve culturally competent critiques that are helpful and encouraging. 
  • Our coaches and judges deserve opportunities to grow both their programs and their craft. 
  • Every member deserves to be heard.

Since 2017, the NSDA’s annual equity commitments have outlined steps to reinforce and advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in our organization. Last year, we presented new areas of focus while also continuing our work on previous commitments. This approach continues in 2023-2024.

Year in Review

In response to last year’s equity commitments, we…

  • Implemented the Belonging and Inclusion Station at 68 district tournaments, the NSDA Springboard Series, the Last-Chance Qualifier, and the National Tournament.
  • Created the Judge Pool Diversity Initiative to incentivize judges who enhance the representational diversity of the National Tournament judge pool. Over $50,000 was allotted to support 28 additional judges who adjudicated 176 rounds at the National Tournament (including 70 elimination rounds).
  • Awarded $5,000 to the inaugural Activating Equity Award winner.
  • Introduced the Faces in the Crowd segment in Rostrum.
  • Created videos in celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Day and Celebrate Diversity Month.
  • Introduced Food for Thought, a professional development series for NSDA staff.
  • Drafted a mission statement for the coaches’ caucuses and held bi-annual meetings with caucus leaders.
  • Published data on elimination round judge diversity in the April/May 2023 Rostrum.
  • Provided approximately $14,000 to speech and debate programs through Keith West Memorial Fund awards and more than $100,000 through the Tate Fund in 2022-2023.
  • Continued to to require National Tournament judges receive certification in cultural competency.
  • Hired a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Intern for the National Tournament. 
  • Introduced the Multicultural Learning Alliance.
  • Introduced the NSDA Student Alliance.
  • Began work on a year-long initiative to inventory and assess the NSDA’s DEI resources and draft a DEI plan with an anticipated completion date of August 2024. 

The themes for this year’s equity commitments are Engagement and Voice. These two areas were selected to reflect the NSDA’s intentions to support all members as well as recognize that as we build resources in service to our community, we must listen to and learn from our students and coaches.



  • The NSDA will begin work on developing a mentoring program to increase and sustain the diversity of speech and debate coaches by offering support and guidance to newer coaches in the activity.
  • The Multicultural Learning Alliance will host its inaugural sessions with the intent of connecting coaches, judges, and educators seeking to increase their multicultural competence, learn more about issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as share ways to support marginalized members of the speech and debate community. 

Thank you for supporting our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We hope you will continue to be partners in our efforts to make speech and debate a better activity! 

  • The NSDA will create infrastructure to promote new speech and debate programs in historically underserved school districts.
  • The NSDA will create networks designed to address unique barriers faced by coaches from small schools, faith-based schools, and schools from rural communities.
  • The NSDA will implement an Ad Hoc NSDA Committee on Wellness to promote a culture of physical, psychological, and emotional well-being for all members of the NSDA community.


  • The NSDA Student Alliance (our collection of student interest groups) will host their inaugural meetings. 
  • The NSDA will facilitate a series of focus groups to hear the perspectives of coaches nationwide on topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • The NSDA will continue to highlight and celebrate efforts of students, coaches, judges, alumni, etc., working to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • The NSDA will create a vision toward increasing engagement of NSDA alumni participating in college speech and debate.

Thank you for supporting our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We hope you will continue to be partners in our efforts to make speech and debate a better activity!