DEBATE-Kansas City
5100 Rockhill Rd
202 Haag Hall
Kansas City MO 64110-2499
Web and Phone Contact
Telephone (816) 235-5267
Mission Statement
Improve academic performance and increase opportunities for urban students through participation in debate.
Leadership
CEO/Executive Director Mr. Isaac Allen
Board Chair Mr. Shane Mecham
Board Chair Company Affiliation Levy & Craig
History and Background
Year of Incorporation 2003
Financial Summary
Revenue Expense Area Graph

Comparing revenue to expenses shows how the organizations finances fluctuate over time.

Source: IRS Form 990

 Breakdown
Net Gain/Loss:    in 
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.
Statements
Mission Statement Improve academic performance and increase opportunities for urban students through participation in debate.
Background Statement

DEBATE-Kansas City (DKC) harnesses the excitement of team sports to inspire students to spend hours preparing research, constructing arguments and then engaging in debates against their peers. DKC is a nonprofit organization supported by the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC). Together, we partner with 15 area school districts/charter schools to ensure debate programs exist at 36 member high and middle schools. DKC is one of 21 Urban Debate Leagues across the country. During the 2016-17 school year, DKC had 1078  active debaters.

DKC supports schools that lack an institutional history of debate by providing a variety of services, including student programs, coach training, college networking, the placement of assistant coaches and an entire tournament season with year-end awards.

DKC began in 1998 with a three-year grant from the Open Society Institute that funded all DKC programming. After the grant expired, participating school districts valued DKC enough to financially support its continuance; member schools began paying annual service fees. In 2003 DKC became an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit but program services were kept at UMKC. This gave DKC an increased ability to supplement membership fees with fundraising efforts to grow and improve DKC programming.

DKC was created because in Kansas City, like many other American cities, academic debate was victim to budget cuts. Prior to these cuts Kansas City had an incredible debate legacy. Melvin B. Tolson, the greatest African American debate coach in our nation’s history, received his early speech training at Lincoln High. His success inspired the film The Great Debaters where he was played by Denzel Washington.

DKC brought debate success back to Kansas City schools. Over 9,000 student have received access to debate and DKC and most participants have increased their grades, attendance rates and over 95% of DKC seniors’ graduate high school. Moreover, the vast majority enroll in the college and they are 80% more likely to get a college degree. DKC students have also found competitive success. Joe Miller’s award winning 2006 book Cross-X detailed the journey and triumph of the Kansas City Central debate team. One of those Central debaters, Ryan Wash, was part of the first policy debate team to win both collegiate championships in the same year. Over 75 student have received college debate scholarships and DKC expects this new legacy of success to grow, especially as we grow community support.

Impact Statement

Accomplishments for FY 2017:

  • 1,078 active debaters – DKCs strongest year of participation ever.
  • Managed 15 tournaments with 1,882 entries and over 6,000 rounds of policy debate and student congress. (10% increase over last year)
  • DKC conducted over 300 school visits – for over 1,000 hours of mentoring to our member schools.
  • Provided three all-day professional development sessions averaging 20 teachers per session.
  • DKC provided 35 scholarships to the DKC Summer Debate Institute
  • Trained over 100 members of the community to judge debate

 

Goals for FY 2018:
  • Meet increased demand for debate and membership growth challenges: Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS) have added 4 new schools and plan to add an additional 5 schools. This will grow DKC membership to approximately 45 schools.
  • Meet or exceed program benchmarks from last year with regards to retention, participants and on-site support
  • Generate support for and execute DKC’s three-year plan to institutionalize debate in Kansas City:
  • Year One - Increase development capacity, meet membership growth challenges and provide students access to more debate competitions.
  • Year Two – Retain development growth, increase program capacity so that DKC can formalize a tournament schedule that gives all students access to a robust tournament season.
  • Year Three – Continue increasing program capacity to maximize program growth so that nearly all students in Kansas City have meaningful access to debate.
  • DKC can add a maximum of 500 policy debaters over the next three years.
  • Our goal is to reach 10,000 policy rounds per year by 2020 – up from 2,200 in 2015-16.
Needs Statement
  • DKC’S THREE YEAR PLAN. Generate support for our plan to institutionalize debate in all Kansas City area public schools.
  • JOIN THE VARSITY. With 100 hours of volunteer time or $2,000 you can become a Varsity supporter. This donation of time or money can support one of two DKC programs.
  • Debate Coaching. An assistant coach for a season is approximately 100 hours of time, or a $2,000 stipend.
  • Debate Tournament. Tournaments require 100 hours of volunteer judging, or $2,000 to pay for judging and other tournament needs.
  • CITY CHAMPIONSHIP TOURNAMENT SPONSORSHIP. DKC’s annual City Championship gives hundreds of students the opportunity to debate on the UMKC campus. For $5,000 one can sponsor the food, trophies, judging and participation prizes.
  • SUMMER DEBATE CAMP. Fifty students could be provided a week long debate camp held on the UMKC campus. Transportation and meals included for a $15,000 sponsorship.
Service Categories
Secondary & High Schools
Youth Development-Citizenship
Urban League
Areas of Service
MO - Jackson County
KS - Wyandotte County
MO - Jackson County Urban Core
KS - Wyandotte County Urban Core
CEO/Executive Director/Board Chair Statement

A letter from DKC Board Chair Shane C. Mecham:

To the Supporters of the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation:

Without hyperbole, I can confidently say that no one else does more to remedy the failings in public education in Kansas City’s urban core than DEBATE-Kansas City (“DKC”). DKC uses competition to motivate students to learn how to read, write, research, and speak. It makes kids want to know about the social and political issues that affect their everyday lives. DKC works with a group of people to whom the world happens and gives them the tools to carve out their own places in the world.

Every year DKC serves a large number of underprivileged middle and high school students in the Kansas City area. It does so at a very low price per student. Interest and participation are growing. We need the funds to keep up with the demand. DKC seniors graduate 95% of the time. Many go on to college, some with the help of competitive debate scholarships. They have continued to graduate school and won multiple national collegiate debate championships. Every year, DKC alumni return to coach and judge our current students.

Debate was a transformative experience in my own life, and I have spoken with literally hundreds of other people who have told me the same thing. I joined DKC in an effort to repay a small portion of what the activity has given me. Supporting debate improves our schools and our community.

Very truly yours,

Shane C. Mecham
Programs
Description

The most critical element to a debate team’s success is the head coach, yet most DKC schools struggle to hire and retain qualified debate coaches. On average 70% of DKC coaches enter the league without prior debate experience. While many suburban and private schools have an institutional history of debate, most urban schools served by DKC do not. Instead, they rely on DKC for essential support—for training, resources, and help in teaching and practicing with their debaters. Without this help many schools would fold their debate programs. In 2016-17, DKC provided coaches at 36 schools on-site visits, updated curriculum, and a dozen professional development days between summer camp and in-season training. During these sessions coaches are given updated debate topic information, program building strategies, guest speakers and administrative support.

Category Education, General/Other Extracurricular Activities
Population Served Adults, ,
Short-Term Success DKC marks short term success through the use of DKC coaching resources, attendance to debate tournaments and the ability to meet challenges. In 2016-17, DKC provided coaches at 36 schools on-site visits, updated curriculum, and a dozen professional development days between summer camp and in-season training. During these sessions coaches are given updated debate topic information, program building strategies, guest speakers and administrative support.
Long-Term Success The Debate Coach Development program seeks to provide every DKC coach with the knowledge base and resources to successfully coach their team. The definition of a successful debate team is best viewed through a continuum, beginning with the ability to administer and teach the basics of debate. A debate team becomes operational when a coach can teach their students the basic rules of debate, make all the travel arrangements and support them at a tournament. On other end of the continuum is a coach with a large team competing for national championships. DKC’s streamlined resources make it easier to both start and improve debate teams. When DKC makes a connection with a new coach, access to debate is increased. When DKC provides additional expertise to an already skilled coach, championships become within reach. Ultimately, more students get the opportunity to debate at all levels because coaches are given the extra support they need.
Program Success Monitored By DKC uses communication, data collection and firsthand knowledge to monitor the success of the Debate Coach Development program. DKC prides itself on keeping close contact and open communication with teachers, principals and superintendents. DKC staff conducts over 300 school visits each year to provide coaching support. Data is gathered from each visit to monitor program progress. Feedback from the DKC community, combined with firsthand knowledge, gives DKC the ability to constantly update teaching methods and meet the needs of each member school. If traditional approaches are failing at a school, DKC uses its nexus of information and debate expertise to develop new ones. 
Examples of Program Success DKC school membership has increased by nearly a third over the past two years. Nearly ten debate programs that otherwise would have been dormant now have robust teams, led by DKC trained coaches. Recruiting, training and keeping coaches is vital and DKC's success in this area has grown student access to debate. 
Description

DEBATE-Kansas City makes excelling at academics fun & rewarding for students across the Kansas City area. Through tournament competition DKC harnesses the excitement of team sports to inspire students to spend countless hours preparing research, constructing arguments and then engaging in complex debates against their peers. We believe all students need access to the critical thinking, communication and research skills that debate provides. DKC provides urban middle & high students with the resources and expertise they need to succeed. Services include: comprehensive research support, workshops, mentoring, in-class guest presentations, coach training and tournament management. DKC ran a free a summer debate camp for 35 students and two seniors received college debate scholarships, with many more entering college. Since 1998 DKC has provided 8,500 students access to debate competition. This year DKC expects to serve 800 students at 37 member schools. 

Category Education, General/Other Extracurricular Activities
Population Served Children and Youth (0 - 19 years), ,
Short-Term Success

DKC's focus each year is providing more students meaningful opportunities to debate. At the end of this debate season DKC expects to manage over 2,000 entries at 15 tournaments, hold three student workshops, provide 300 on-site support visits, hold a free summer camp for 40 students and celebrate student success with our year end Awards Night. Our goal is to maintain recent improvements in debater retention and to continue growing the league. success.

Long-Term Success

DKC achieves long term success when urban students find academic success and build confidence through debate, leading them to high school graduation and new career opportunities. The end result is a more diversified professional pipeline and empowered leaders that make an impact in their communities. Studies have shown that debate increases critical thinking skills, improves reading scores, increases the likelihood of high school graduation and makes civic engagement more likely.

Program Success Monitored By

DKC measures success in several ways. One is monitoring the retention of schools served by program. DKC collects student participation information for demographic data and GPA trends. Every on-site school visit is recorded through on-line logs and the findings are reviewed internally throughout the year. DKC solicits coaches’ feedback through surveys. DKC also keeps record of participant graduation rates.  DKC keeps electronic of every debate round managed by the league. Finally, DKC compiles all this data to write formal year-end reports to each school district.

Examples of Program Success

In 2016-17, DKC had 1,078 active debaters. 100% of DKC seniors graduated. DKC improved student retention to over 49%, exceeding all prior marks, which improves the likelihood that the academic benefits of debate take. Debate for urban students has been to show to increase the chances a student graduates high school by 70% and raises ACT test scores in reading and English nearly 50%. Debaters are also 85% more likely to graduate college. DKC has helped 75 students get scholarships to debate at more than 10 colleges. 

Description

DKC’s Coaching Connections program modestly pays college debaters and DKC graduates to mentor at DKC schools. Launched in 2007 the program improved each year. These mentors inject energy and expertise into debate practices and last year DKC performed over 400 school support visits for more than 1,000 hours of support. DKC students need role models, support and the essential debate knowledge our mentors provide. Most DKC schools struggle to hire and retain qualified debate coaches, so these mentors fill an important gap. While many suburban and private schools have an institutional history of debate, DKC schools rely on us for essential support for training, resources, & help in teaching and practicing with their debaters. Without this help many schools would fold their debate programs. 

Category Education, General/Other Extracurricular Activities
Population Served Children and Youth (0 - 19 years), ,
Short-Term Success

372 Coaching Connections school visits for a record 1,116 hours of coaching support

  • Exceeded goal of 350 visits

27% increase in total student participation

  • 41% in high school
  • 5% in middle school

44% league wide retention rate

  • 54% increase in eighth to ninth grade retention

99% visit effectiveness rate.

  • 50% of visits were practice debates or tournament support

50 students competed at the junior National Speech and Debate Tournament

  • Sumner Academy placed in the top 16 in policy debate
  • Lee A. Tolbert student advanced to semi-finals in student congress
Long-Term Success

Each on-site visit provided through Coaching Connections is significant because of the life-altering benefits of debate. Debate is challenging and a visit from a respected role model could be the difference between a student quitting or continuing with debate. It is DKC’s goal to have as many students debating as many rounds as possible because once a student completes 70 plus rounds of competitive debate academic gains in reading and English become significant and permanent. Moreover, DKC seniors graduate on time at a rate exceeding 95%, 70% go to college and they are 80% likely to complete a four year degree. Additionally, debate can lead to college scholarships, including graduate programs. Coaching Connections helps DKC retain debaters by providing them critical support and has already helped many DKC students achieve academic success.

Program Success Monitored By Each DKC visitor logs their visit into a DKC created survey that collects data for each visit. The logs include questions about the age group visited, the teaching methods used and any needs that may be present. DKC also places all of our student participants into a database that is used to track demographic information and debater retention. Combined these tools help DKC track the success of our visits. 
Examples of Program Success

Two years ago the Lincoln Prep debate team lost a much needed assistant coach. The team’s lead sponsor was untrained and unmotivated, but fortunately DKC recruited a new assistant who is a former debater that recently graduated college. He hit the ground running with a robust 10 tournament travel schedule. His only pay came from Coaching Connections yet he led two practices a week. His dedication helped a Lincoln Prep policy debate team become the students first from their school to ever qualify to the prestigious National Forensic League (NFL) national tournament. This accomplishment garnered a proclamation from the Mayor of Kansas City, Mo. It is but one example of DKC connecting area debater teams to people with expertise who can lead them to academic success through debate. 

CEO Comments
America’s education system has been headed in the wrong direction for years. American students on average are falling behind other countries and we have an incredible disparity in the quality of education students receive based on their zip code. Large scale efforts at reform often get derailed because of politics and the complicated nature of fixing schools that are governed in part by local, state and federal policy makers. Over the years many people have tried to find a “magic bullet” solution that could rapidly improve the system, but so far we’ve come up empty.
So, educational reform is desperately needed, but it faces many obstacles. DKC has a simple solution that does not require sweeping reforms or building new schools, and by comparison to other efforts, is quite affordable. Invest in DEBATE-Kansas City’s mission of making sure that all students in Kansas City have access to academic achievement and opportunities through debate.
DKC makes educational reform happen one student and one debate round at a time. We don’t have a magic bullet per se, but we have a magic number. If a student debates between 70-100 rounds in a career, they will make certain and permanent academic gains. This includes better reading, English and critical thinking skills, along with higher grades. Debaters are 70% more likely to graduate high school and 80% more likely to get a college degree. The most significant research study over urban debate and academic achievement finds that debate works for even students most at-risk of dropping out. How many other educational programs can make such an incredible impact through college? And it doesn’t stop there.
The 2016 Presidential Election has revealed a number problems with America’s political system and civic society. Among those are apathy and ignorance. Even though we are in the Information Age, our ability to intelligently process information seems to be fading and our people seem more interested in reality TV and cat videos than issue of importance. Debaters on the other hand are far more likely to be engaged civically and they possess the critical thinking skills to decipherer fact from fiction. Debaters are more likely to become leaders and in Forbes latest “30 under 30” that celebrates young leaders, more than half were debaters.
Debate is obviously not the answer to all that ails our education system, but it is low hanging fruit. Over the next three years we could add as many as 300 students to our to our league. As support for DKC grows, so will meaningful access to debate in Kansas City.
Executive Director/CEO
Executive Director Mr. Isaac Allen
Term Start Sept 2017
Compensation $50,001 - $75,000
Experience Isaac Allen has been working for DEBATE-Kansas City since 2006. In August of 2017 he was promoted from Program Director to Interim Executive Director. In his time with DKC Isaac has worked to grow participation from a few hundred students in 2006 to over a thousand students in 2017. He spearheaded DKC’s expansion in to middle school programming which has been hailed as a national model for middle school debate. Mr. Allen has been actively involved with policy debate for nearly two decades including coaching and debating for Missouri State University. Mr. Allen also served as adjunct faculty for the UMKC Department of Communication Studies teaching Public Speaking, Discourse and Interpersonal Communication courses.
Co-CEO/Executive Director
Term Start 0
Compensation Last Year
Former CEOs
NameTerm
Mr. Gabe Cook Feb 2007 - Aug 2017
Ms. Amy Wilson Apr 2004 - Feb 2007
Senior Staff
Title Interim Executive Director
Experience/Biography saac Allen has been working for DEBATE-Kansas City since 2006. In August of 2017 he was promoted to Interim Executive Director. In his time with DKC Isaac has worked to grow participation from a few hundred students in 2006 to over a thousand students in 2017. He spearheaded DKC’s expansion in to middle school programing which has been hailed as a national model for middle school debate. Mr. Allen has been actively involved with policy debate for nearly two decades including coaching and debating for Missouri State University. Mr. Allen also served as adjunct faculty for the UMKC Department of Communication Studies teaching Public Speaking, Discourse and Interpersonal Communication courses.
Staff
Paid Full-Time Staff 1
Paid Part-Time Staff 3
Volunteers 75
Paid Contractors 8
Retention Rate 50%
Staff Diversity (Ethnicity)
African American/Black 2
Caucasian 2
Staff Diversity (Gender)
Male 3
Not Specified 1
Formal Evaluations
CEO Formal Evaluation Yes
CEO/Executive Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Senior Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Non-Management Formal Evaluation Yes
Non-Management Formal Evaluation Frequency Annually
Plans & Policies
Organization Has a Fundraising Plan Under Development
Organization Has a Strategic Plan Under Development
Management Succession Plan Under Development
Organization Policy and Procedures Under Development
Nondiscrimination Policy Yes
Whistleblower Policy Yes
Document Destruction Policy No
Collaborations
The University of Missouri Kansas City (UMKC) provides institutional support. This includes office space, program resources and the UMKC employment services through which DKC staff are hired. 
Awards
Award/RecognitionOrganizationYear
Public Advocate of the YearCross Examination Debate Association2012
Civility Award Consensus Kansas City 2017
Government Licenses
Is your organization licensed by the government? No
CEO Comments DEBATE-Kansas City has expanded from a small, grant supported program in the Department of Communication at UMKC, to a unique partnership between a 501(c)(3) non-profit, five urban school districts and the University of Missouri Kansas City. DKC was originally funded by seed money from the Open Society Institute and operated as an academic outreach program at UMKC. However, as the Kansas City community began to recognize the power of urban debate it became necessary for DKC to become independent, attaining greater financial flexibility. UMKC became a strategic partner through which the DKC program operates; DKC offices, employees and resources are provided through the UMKC system. The organization is governed by a Board of Directors who works closely with DKC staff in achieving the mission of increasing academic performance and opportunities for urban students through debate.
Board Chair
Board Chair Mr. Shane Mecham
Company Affiliation Levy & Craig
Term July 2015 to June 2018
Email smecham@levycraig.com
Board Members
NameAffiliation
Mr. Andy Atkins DST
Ms. Shannon Cade Attorney, Cerner
Mr. Clint Clevenger Director of Executive Talent Strategies B.E. Smith
Mr. Brandon Dial Vice President, US Bank
Honoruable Kenneth Garrett Judge, 16th Circuit Court in Missouri
Mr. Russell Keller Stinson Leonard Street
Ms. Alexa Kemper Volunteer
Mr. Marcus Leach Political Consultant
Mr. David Magariel Federal Public Defender
Dr. Michael McDonald Chair, UMKC Department of Communication Stuides
Mr. Shane Mecham Levy & Craig PC
Mr. Rodger Nail The Nail Law Firm
Mr. Quentin Savwoir Office of Mayor Sylvester “Sly” Sly James. Special Asst. for Public Policy
Mr. Jeffrey Thomas Associate Dean, UMKC School of Law
Ms. Erika Vega US Office of Personnel Management
Board Demographics - Ethnicity
African American/Black 6
Asian American/Pacific Islander 0
Caucasian 9
Hispanic/Latino 0
Native American/American Indian 0
Other 0
Board Demographics - Gender
Male 12
Female 3
Unspecified 0
Governance
Board Term Lengths 3
Board Term Limits 0
Board Meeting Attendance % 75%
Written Board Selection Criteria? Yes
Written Conflict of Interest Policy? No
Percentage Making Monetary Contributions 70%
Percentage Making In-Kind Contributions 100%
Constituency Includes Client Representation Yes
Number of Full Board Meetings Annually 4
Standing Committees
Executive
Development / Fund Development / Fund Raising / Grant Writing / Major Gifts
Program / Program Planning
CEO Comments DEBATE-Kansas City has expanded from a small, grant supported program in the Department of Communication at UMKC, to a unique partnership between a 501(c)(3) non-profit, five urban school districts and the University of Missouri Kansas City. DKC was originally funded by seed money from the Open Society Institute and operated as an academic outreach program at UMKC. However, as the Kansas City community began to recognize the power of urban debate it became necessary for DKC to become independent, attaining greater financial flexibility. UMKC became a strategic partner through which the DKC program operates; DKC offices, employees and resources are provided through the UMKC system. The organization is governed by a Board of Directors who works closely with DKC staff in achieving the mission of increasing academic performance and opportunities for urban students through debate.
Financials
Fiscal Year Start July 01, 2017
Fiscal Year End June 30, 2018
Projected Revenue $455,005
Projected Expenses $406,313
IRS Letter of Exemption
Foundation Comments
  • FYE 6/30/2016, 2015, 2014: Financial data reported using IRS Form 990. 
  • Foundation/corporate revenue line item may include contributions from individuals. 
Detailed Financials
 
Expense Allocation
Fiscal Year201620152014
Program Expense$135,089$156,082$137,268
Administration Expense$11,928$17,219$20,734
Fundraising Expense$5,712$0$0
Payments to Affiliates--$0$0
Total Revenue/Total Expenses1.010.801.13
Program Expense/Total Expenses88%90%87%
Fundraising Expense/Contributed Revenue8%0%0%
Assets and Liabilities
Fiscal Year201620152014
Total Assets$93,050$21,442$56,400
Current Assets$93,050$16,368$56,400
Long-Term Liabilities$0$0$0
Current Liabilities$71,109$297$967
Total Net Assets$21,941$21,145$55,433
Short-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Current Ratio: Current Assets/Current Liabilities1.3155.1158.32
Long-Term Solvency
Fiscal Year201620152014
Long-Term Liabilities/Total Assets0%0%0%
Top Funding Sources
Fiscal Year201620152014
Top Funding Source & Dollar Amount --Enid & Crosby Kemper Foundation $14,000Mentors Foundation $42,500
Second Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount --Mentor's Foundation $12,000Individual Donor $10,000
Third Highest Funding Source & Dollar Amount --Arthur & Rupe Foundation $10,000Hallmark Cards, Inc. $5,000
Capital Campaign
Currently in a Capital Campaign? No
Capital Campaign Anticipated in Next 5 Years No
Organization Comments
With a small but talented staff DKC programming has been efficient and heavily focused on school-based programming. Economic and budget hardships has left schools with fewer resources, compelling DKC to lower membership fees. Even with lower fees many schools are struggling to field debate teams. To reverse these struggles while maintaining successful programming DKC will need support from the community. Kansas City area schools have been devoting substantial resources to debate for the better part of two decades; now to keep all we have built from fading away we need the community to do more than ever and support debate in Kansas City.
 
One note on the most recent income and expense figures. These numbers grew dramatically from last couple year because DKC began including in-kind support while past numbers only reflected direct DKC expenditures. DKC partners with UMKC and over a dozen local school districts/charters to increase support for debate in Kansas City and these new numbers reflect the financial commitment our partnership garners.
Organization Name DEBATE-Kansas City
Address 5100 Rockhill Rd
202 Haag Hall
Kansas City, MO 641102499
Primary Phone (816) 235-5267
Contact Email debatekc@gmail.com
CEO/Executive Director Mr. Isaac Allen
Board Chair Mr. Shane Mecham
Board Chair Company Affiliation Levy & Craig
Year of Incorporation 2003