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Keith West Memorial Fund

Keith West lived with compassion and care as cornerstone characteristics of his personality. Upon graduation from high school as a three time Iowa state champion and a finalist at the 2000 NSDA National Tournament in Congressional Debate, Keith went to college to pursue his future as an educator, coach, and scholar. Keith dedicated his life to coaching and teaching youth in the ways of argumentation and debate. 

To honor Keith West’s life and legacy, his family and friends have established the Keith West Memorial Fund.

Keith West - Sterner Lifetime Service Award

Keith West Memorial Fund School Grant Application

Keith believed that speech and debate could unleash a student’s true potential. In order to ensure more students have access to speech and debate, the Keith West Memorial School Grant will provide one $5,000 grant and two $2,500 grants to schools who show strong potential, but a significant lack of financial resources.

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Evaluation Criteria

Each application will be evaluated by our review committee based on the following criteria:

NEED - 25%

The degree of financial hardship for the team.

    • Consider the cost of participation in speech and debate for the team (e.g. state/district dues, school fees, bus rental/travel)
GROWTH - 20%

The potential for the team to advance itself.

    • Growth can be demonstrated in multiple areas, including  the number of students and coaches, incremental increase in students and coaches, as well as potential for competitive success. Consider the degree of adversity that your team has had to overcome.
IMPACT - 10%

The effect of the speech and debate team on the school/student body.

    • Consider if the team provides opportunity to a considerable number of students. Is the team a safe space/outlet for traditionally underrepresented populations and/or marginalized groups?

The presence of diverse identities (in particular, traditionally underrepresented and marginalized groups) among the coaching staff and/or team members. 

    • Is your team diverse or actively seeking to diversify?

Efforts made to seek out people, collaborations, and other resources to grow the team. 

    • Teams should demonstrate attempts to maintain or advance the team. Resources could include fundraising efforts, meetings with administration, outreach to the team’s state, district, and/or national leadership.

Frequently Asked Questions

Students are welcome to help draft verbiage for applications in partnership with coaches, however we ask that a coach on record for the school submit the final application.

This grant is specifically to support school-based speech and debate programs. 


In order to provide support to more schools and teams, winners from previous years will not be eligible to receive the award again. 

Our Evaluation Criteria for selection can be found in detail on this page in the “Evaluation Criteria” section.  

Donate to the Keith West Memorial Fund

Through the Keith West Memorial Fund, we are able to support teams who are currently under-resourced in their pursuit of speech and debate. Donate to the Keith West Memorial Fund and your dollars will go toward teams in need!