NYC Financial Literacy Debates

$2000.00 in Scholarships!


May 2nd: Workshop #1
May 9th : Workshop #2
May 16th: Workshop #3
May 23rd: Workshop #4
May 26th: Tournament


School Registration

School Registration for Financial Literacy Debates (Only available for NYCUDL teacher/coaches)

About the Program

The Financial Literacy Debate Series is an excellent opportunity for students to become knowledgeable in financial concepts immediately relevant to them. Financial literacy is an area rarely addressed in school and Americans remain some of the least knowledgeable in areas of personal finance. This has increased repercussions for individuals not privileged with significant wealth. The Financial Literacy Debate Series is intended to introduce relevant financial concepts to students and to coach those students towards a deep understanding of those concepts, using competitive debate as a motivator. The expectation is that this foray into financial literacy will motivate students to further exploration that will help them as they leave secondary school. The roles of the school and the coach are critical to the success of the program.


Student participation in the program is for four to five weeks. First, students will participate in financial education seminars. These will occur after school and, in some cities, on Saturdays. There will be four sessions and each session will be two hours long. These will be scheduled one per week. Each team will participate either in person at a designated location or from their school by logging in to a video conference hosted by the local league and Citi. These sessions will introduce the core concepts and provide students with structure and coaching and feedback to develop a deep understanding of the concepts.


After the workshops, students will compete in a tournament during which they will debate about the financial concepts against other teams from other schools. The two top teams from the tournament will then debate each other.

  • 4 after school workshops in May and a citywide tournament. Final debates held at Citi Headquarters
  • Financial Literacy Debate Curriculum
  • Coach Stipends of $500.00. *Requirements apply!  Schools should have a minimum of 5 teams participating (10 students) in all workshops and the tournament. 
  • Special Student Prizes for Top Winners


2017-2018 Resolution:



Fin Lit Debate Schedule & Locations

  • June - Final Round @ Citi Headquarters, 388 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013

Why the Financial Literacy Debates?

The primary goal of the Financial Literacy Debate Series is to improve the financial literacy of students in under-
served urban areas. Financial literacy has been highlighted by federal and state agencies, as well as financial institutions, as an area in need of significant investment and improvement. Recognizing that debate is a particularly rigorous activity for addressing complex concepts, the Citi Foundation, NAUDL and NYCUDL have partnered to launch this unique opportunity to students in NYC.


The goals for the Financial Literacy Debate Series participants are to


• significantly improve their understanding critical financial literacy concepts relevant to their decisions as they move to college and career opportunities.


• provide them with an opportunity to work directly with professionals in financial services, who serve as
models of educational and professional success
The goals for the student audience members are to


• improve their general understanding of relevant financial literacy concepts and the importance of improving their own financial literacy


• engage with student leaders and professionals in discussions about financial topics impacting students


The goals for schools are to


• increase the visibility of financial literacy as a critical skill area


• provide a diversity of relevant educational experiences for the students and teachers


We are thankful for the support of both the National Association of Urban Debate Leagues and the Citi Foundation for generously supporting student scholarships/gift cards and other prizes, as well as for providing generous stipends for debate coaches. 


Awards include:

  • 1st Place Team. Each debater recieves $500/scholarship for a total of $1000.00
  • 2nd Place Team. Each debater recieves $250/scholarship for a total of $500.00
  • Semifinalists (3rd and 4th Place) Team. Each debater receives $100/scholarship for a total of $400.
  • Coach Stipend

Debate Format

In an UDL public debate, each side has two speakers.  Each side’s speakers are divided as follows: one presents the Case and Closing Statement, the other does the Cross-Examination and presents the Rebuttal.  Each side gets four minutes of discretionary prep time.


Affirmative Case (AC)                                                                                  6 Minutes

            Cross Examination by the Negative                                               3 Minutes

Negative Case (NC)                                                                                     6 Minutes

            Cross Examination by the Affirmative                                           3 Minutes

Negative Rebuttal (NR)                                                                               5 Minutes

Affirmative Rebuttal (AR)                                                                            5 Minutes

Negative Closing Statement (NCS)                                                            4 Minutes

Affirmative Closing Statement (ACS)                                                         4 Minutes


  • The Case must have two or three contentions, which are the main arguments for its side, supported by evidence, and clearly organized.
  • The Negative Rebuttal should refute the Affirmative Case, and not defend or extend the Negative Case. It should do this by line-by-line refutation, emphasizing responsiveness
  • The Affirmative Rebuttal has the challenging task of both refuting the Negative Case line-by-line, point-by-point, and defending the Affirmative Case against the Negative Rebuttal.
  • The Closing Statements should summarize and crystallize the main arguments in the debate, and extend one or two of their Case’s contentions.

Tournament Structure

  • The tournament will be preceded by four training sessions for the students. The first two will be co-facilitated by The financial sponsor volunteers and the goal will be to develop student understanding of the critical financial concepts necessary to debate the resolution.

  • The Tournament itself will consist of five rounds, a semi-final round and a final round. Instead of running these as a full day weekend tournament. Students will debate virtually from the schools and be judged by volunteers at The financial sponsor. Each school will set up an uninterrupted space for each team and a connected laptop for each round. The debates will take place within virtual rooms in the Zoom teleconferencing system.

Case Guidelines


  • Each case should have a short introductory paragraph.
  • The introductory paragraph should include an identification of the speaker and the speaker’s school.
  • The introductory paragraph should include a statement of the resolution and whether the speaker’s team will affirm or negate (or reject or oppose) it.
  • The introductory paragraph should also give the audience an overall understanding of the speaker’s side’s argumentative position on the resolution, and perhaps establish the framework from which the speaker’s side wants the issues to viewed and adjudged in the debate.



  • Each contention should be an independent, discrete primary argument in support of or in opposition to the resolution. Each contention should be a reason by itself to affirm or reject the resolution if it is won by its side. 
  • A contention should not be a re-statement of the resolution itself, either in support or opposition. It should be a specific reason the resolution is true or false. 
  • Each contention should be developed with analysis and evidence, so that each sentence is as strong a development and support of that contention as possible.
  • Contentions should be formulated as full, coherent arguments; they should not be short phrases or labels.
  • Teams should consider saving arguments and evidence that directly refutes a likely contention from the other side for their rebuttal speech. In fact, teams should write rebuttal blocks for their rebuttal speech that answer likely contentions from the other side.  Those rebuttal blocks should include evidence and analysis. 
  • Contentions should be made up of a majority of analysis and explanation, with evidence used to support that analysis and explanation. Contentions should certainly have a majority of language that is the speaker’s own. 



  • Textual evidence should usually be summarized and paraphrased, into the speaker’s own words.
  • Direct quotations should not exceed 2 – 3 short sentences. Quote directly only when the language of the source is exceptionally memorable, creative, or sharp. 
  • The source of evidence should be integrated into the language of the speech itself. The speech can and should include a fuller citation in brackets on the page, but the text of the speech should include a reference to the author of a quote and where the quote occurred – e.g., Janet Yellin, the chairperson of the Federal Reserve Board, stated in a recent official White Paper issued from the Fed, “Earnings potential for college graduates, even at the current 2% American growth rate, is higher on average by about $1 million, over the average earning potential for those adults who do not graduate from college.”
  • Most of each paragraph should be made up of language that is the speaker’s   Public debate speeches are not made up of a string of quotations. 
  • That said, analyzing the persuasiveness, authority, warrants, and factual basis of evidence is one of the two fundamental pillars of all good debate (the other is refutation, using critical thinking), so of course public debaters are expected to do this in the Financial Literacy Debates.



  • Each case should have a short concluding paragraph.
  • The conclusion should sum up the position of the speaker’s side, perhaps remind the audience of the speaker’s framework, and re-state that the speaker affirms or rejects the resolution in the debate.