Open Society Foundations Announces New Initiative to Support College Debate Programs Around the World

As part of an ongoing effort to engage young people in policy issues critical to their future, the Open Society Foundations has launched Global Debates, a $20 million funding initiative to strengthen debate programs at colleges and universities around the world.

OSF will provide up to three years of funding to colleges, universities, and other educational institutions to integrate debate across disciplines. The International Debate Education Association will implement the programs and help OSF identify and provide support to grantees.

Grants will be available for institutions that have either very small debate programs or none at all. Grants also will be made to institutions seeking to promote public debates within the broader communities that they serve and to increase the capacity of young people from marginalized communities to engage in debates concerning controversial issues affecting their lives.

Grant applications are invited in the following areas:

Debate Organized by Consortia of Colleges and Universities will provide support for consortia of colleges and universities working together to organize large-scale debate in national or global contexts. Pairs or small groups of colleges may apply for a maximum of $200,000 to develop, organize, and support debate consortia. Funding may be used to establish new consortia or enhance and/or expand existing consortia.

Debate Sponsored by Departments and Schools Within Colleges and Universities will provide support for debate as an extracurricular or co-curricular activity of departments and schools inside a college or university. Academic departments or programs may apply for a maximum of $25,000 to establish a debate program at a college or university where none currently exists, provide teacher debate training or instruction, host debate tournaments and public debates, and/or travel to public debates and debate tournaments.

Debate in Student Clubs and Societies will provide support for debate in student clubs and societies in ways that go beyond competition to encourage authentic civic engagement. Students, faculty, or staff may apply for a maximum of $50,000 to fund the creation of debate clubs or societies where none currently exist, provide student debate training or instruction, host intra-mural debate tournaments and public debates, and/or travel to public debates and debate tournaments.

Supporting Debate Events will provide funding for university debate events -- both new and existing — around the world in any language. Not-for-profit groups, including but not limited to public or private not-for-profit universities, private not- for-profit organizations, school debate clubs, or other incorporated or unincorporated groups organizing debates for undergraduate university students as part of their activities, are eligible to apply. Funding of up to $50,000 is available for new events. Funding requested for existing events may generally not exceed 25 percent of the total expenses relating to the event.

For each program area, concept papers/full proposals will be reviewed on a rolling basis until funding has been exhausted. Proposals for debate events should be submitted at least two months before the event.

Visit the Open Society Foundations Web site for complete program information and application instructions.