Parent Information on the Newark Debate Academy

What is the NDA?

The Newark Debate Academy was established through a grant from George Soros’ Open Society and operates through a partnership with FOCUS, Inc. There are over 30 schools involved in the league. There are students who participate in the league from 4th grade all the way until graduation. The league is also very closely connected with the Rutgers University-Newark debate team, many of the current Rutgers debaters were former NDA debaters. Our organization helps to sustain a debate pipeline for students from elementary school, to high school, to college.

Specifically the organization offers to the individual schools training to students and coaches, logistical and financial support for team operation. We also host monthly one-day local elementary and high school level tournaments right here in Newark. Along with hosting the monthly tournaments we also offer scrimmages and other training/practice events.

At NDA we try to offer debate and speech in three ways, competitive debate, classroom debate, and public debates. (Please look at the “What We Do” section of the website for more information on all these aspects).

There is no cost to students or parents when participating in debate and speech events. All costs are covered by the individual schools or NDA.

For high school students there are a ton of travel opportunities outside of Newark. Many of our students travel multiple weekends out of the month to places like Texas, California, Minnesota, Massachusetts, and many more places! Not only do these students travel during the academic year but NDA sponsors many our students at many summer debate institutes across the country.


What is High School Debate?

Debate serves as an extracurricular activity, students can just patriate after school or in the classrooms, or students can commit to multiple weekends and afterschool practices. Debate involves an individual or a team of debaters working to effectively convince a judge that his or her side of a resolution is, as a general principle, more valid. Students in debate come to thoroughly understand both sides of the resolution, having researched each extensively, and learn to think critically about every argument that could be made on each side. At debate tournaments there are pre-chosen topics that students debate about. At NDA there are three types of debate offered: policy, Lincoln-Douglass, and public forum. For an explanation of each of these events go to -


What is High School Speech?

A few schools in the league also offer speech, these events involve a presentation by one, two, or sometimes a group of students that is judged against a similar type of presentation by others in a round of competition. Speech events range from limited preparation events that require extensive knowledge of current events to dramatic and humorous interpretation, which challenge students to find powerful moments in literature and recreate them for an audience. For more information on the speech event go to - .

Just like in debate, speech students also can travel to multiple tournaments a month, but many of the schools that work with NDA currently do not do speech. Currently only Central high school and Barringer high school do speech events.


What is Elementary/Middle Grades Debate

NDA hosts one tournament a month for these grades, these tournaments are always at a school in Newark. In this format of the debate students compete in teams of two and debate one topic for each semester. Too see the format for this activity go to -


Contact Information

Interested in the Newark Debate Academy? Please see the below contact information if you want to get involved!

Militza Diaz – Program Director of NDA – For any questions about the organization in general please contact Militza This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Below is a list of all the high schools and elementary schools that currently have programs.

High Schools:


Barringer HAAS

Barringer STEAM


East Side


Newark Early College

Newark Tech

Science Park  




Elementary/Middle Grades:


Ann St.

George Washington Carver

Ivy Hill




Luis Munoz Marin


Mount Vernon

Oliver St.

Philip’s Academy

Rafael Hernandez

Robert Treat Academy

Science Park

Sussex Ave