New Program Targets Low-Income Students

For the 2009-10 academic year, the Allstate Corporation is partnering with the CDC
to establish their “Expanded Opportunities Initiative,” which is designed to expand and strengthen the reach of urban debate into schools with the highest percentage of low-income students.

The Allstate Expanded Opportunity Initiative incentivizes and supports new opportunities in the CDL for students at schools with the highest Title I percentage of students. Title I students meet the federal definition of coming from low-income families and have additional government funding that follows them to the public school they attend. Schools with 85% or more Title I student population are eligible for the Expanded Opportunity program. All types of schools — district, charter, guest — are potentially eligible. There are 25 high schools, nearly half of all CDL schools, that fall within the criteria this year.

Allstate’s new contribution provides two primary benefits to participating schools. First, additional staffing resources are funded, with the CDC offering more paid technical support and Allstate contributing volunteer assistance. Second, the Initiative provides generous performance incentives to the participating schools with the highest rates of student involvement. These bonuses will be given at both the mid-point and end-point of the academic calendar and will reward those schools with the highest rate of participation, as well as those showing the most improvement over the year. The goal is increasing CDL student participation by 15% at public schools that have 90% or greater Title I student populations .

The Expanded Opportunities Initiative will also enable an expansion of the CDL into five additional high schools, representing a 10% growth, by funding administrative support for a fourth Conference.

The Allstate Corporation has long been one of the CDLs most important private-sector supporters. In 2009, Allstate sponsored the CDL Conference Championships. The most recent expansion of Allstate’s generous involvement was championed by Ben Tarver, CDC board member and Allstate Assistant Vice President for Law and Regulation and Chuck Smith, an Attorney at Allstate and former champion debater.