Voices Foundation Invitational

2014 — CA/US

About Voices

The Voices Foundation was established to help make high school debate accessible to all students, regardless of financial circumstance. The Foundation strives to address shortfalls of resources and support that impede participation by financially disadvantaged individuals and teams through educational programs, outreach efforts to high schools and middle schools trying to start teams, and scholarships for summer camp, tournaments, and coaching.


The Foundation relies heavily on the input and volunteer effort of current and recent high school student debaters and coaches to identify needs and participate in strategies for addressing them.  Support from tournaments such as the Voices Round Robin, the Glenbrooks -through their annual Dodgeball fundraiser, and the Friends of Valley Debate has been influential in funding and promoting the Foundation’s efforts.  Since 2007 Voices has provided financial assistance for over one hundred students to attend tournaments and summer institutes.  Read testimonials from scholarship recipients below:

2007:  7 students

2008:  10 students

2009:  13 students

2010:  20 students

2011:  22 students

2012:  28 students


2013:  40 students



John McKay, a member and coach of Menlo-Atherton High School’s debate team and one of the most successful LD Debaters in recent history, founded the Voices Foundation with the intent to help everyone have opportunities like this that he was fortunate to have as a debate competitor.  For those unfamiliar with John, he earned nine bids to the Tournament of Champions his senior year.  He won awards at the elite MBA Round Robin and Stanford Round Robin, was runner-up at the Mineapple, and was Tournament Champion of College Prep, Manchester-by-the-Sea, the Grapevine Classic, the Victory Briefs Round Robin, and the St. Mark's Heart of Texas Invitational. He ended his career as a semifinalist at the TOC.  Though John passed away in August of 2005, his mission and legacy carries on through the activities of the Foundation and all who support it.   


John’s Mission statement best identifies the philosophy of the organization:

"Financially, my parents had the means and desire to support my trips all over the country and the endless streams of summer camps. Communally, I was surrounded by talented competitors and caring people who constantly sacrificed their time and effort to help me improve. What has come to sadden me, however, is the fact that very few people are blessed with the unlimited opportunities that I have always been given. Many former debaters choose to give back to the activity that had given them so much through judging, coaching, and working at camps. For me, as a student, these tradeoffs were certainly the most worthwhile deals imaginable. All I had to do was have my parents write a check, and I was granted the privilege to learn from brilliant individuals. Unfortunately, such tradeoffs are not as simple for those who do not have the economic capacity to pay for camps, traveling, tournament registrations, etc. There is nothing more heartbreaking to me, as a competitor and instructor, than witnessing such barriers preventing individuals from fully actualizing their desire to participate in the activity that I owe everything to. This is a problem that is combated on many levels, from camps giving financial aid, to schools and communities and local groups granting money to debate programs, to organizations like the Urban Debate League fostering debate where it otherwise would not have blossomed, but there's always room to improve. Although I've been told that teaching at camps, or judging rounds, or coaching kids, is sufficiently 'giving back' to the community, I remain somewhat skeptical [...] To allow a personal channel to remedy my own desire to more adequately 'give back' to debate, and what will hopefully serve as a more widespread vehicle for those inside and outside of debate to help foster the growth of our activity, I've decided to start Voices: Foundation for the Promotion of High School Debate."