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Road to Nationals

Tate “Road to Nationals” Fund

The Road to Nationals Fund, founded by the William Woods Tate, Jr. Memorial Fund (often called “the Tate Fund”) is designed to help students attend the high school National Speech & Debate Tournament. The Road to Nationals Fund provides financial assistance to schools who are lacking financial resources to attend the National Tournament. 

In 2023, the NSDA is proud to provide over $100,000 to schools to create a more equitable National Tournament experience.

Group of students standing together in a hallway at a tournament smiling.

The Road to Nationals Application

On average, the Road to Nationals Fund will provide awards ranging from $250-$1,000 with $1,000 being the maximum grant amount. We anticipate that the average award amount will be around $500 per school.

Only schools with high school students competing in the 2023 National Tournament are eligible to apply. Although others are welcome to help with application responses, we ask that each school submit only one application via a coach on record for the school.

We will announce the first round of grant recipients around April 15, 2023. We will announce the second round of grants on May 12, 2023. Please apply early as we anticipate funding will go quickly.

Thank you to the generosity of NSDA donors including The Julia Burke Foundation for making this possible. 

The application will be open March 1 – May 3.

2022 William Woods Tate, Jr., Memorial Fund Impact

This would be the first time in my three years coaching the team that anyone has traveled to Nationals. While we have qualified peope in the past, students have declined attending due to the cost. As a team where the majority of our students come from an economically disadvantaged home, I think knowing it is possible to attend Nationals would give my other students hope that they could actually do the same.

Donate to the Road to Nationals Fund

Through the Road to Nationals Fund, we are able to support teams who are currently under-resourced as they attend the largest academic competition in the world.

The National Speech & Debate Association (National Forensic League) is a GuideStar Gold Participant.

About William Woods Tate, Jr.

William Woods Tate, Jr. was a long time NFL/NSDA member, leader, and advocate. He believed the National Tournament was a transformative experience that should be accessible to the best competitors. 

Billy Tate and the Tennessee District hosted the elegant Nashville National Tournament in 1988. As NFL president, Billy served longer than any other president except Senator Karl Mundt. His presidential initiatives included the formation of the National Junior Forensic League, recruitment of new sponsors, and selection of National Tournament sites.

At Nationals, his Montgomery Bell Academy Policy Debate team finished second in 1999. In 2005, MBA was the first team in history to close out the NFL Policy Debate final round! The MBA program was hugely successful: the largest Chapter in Tennessee eight times and three-time winner of the Leading Chapter Award. Tate was honored with five diamonds, the Distinguished Service Key and Plaque (Third Honors), a Barkley Forum Key, a TOC Hall of Fame Induction, and the Pelham commendation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, the application questions can be downloaded here

At this time, funding is reserved for high school teams attending the National tournament.

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.

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