Allstate began its support of the Chicago Debate League in February 2009 by sponsoring the Conference Championships. Since that time, their commitment to the CDL has grown enormously. This season, Allstate has taken another dramatic, unprecedented step forward in its corporate support of the CDL, to become the 2010/11 Chicago Debate League Premier Sponsor.
Overall, the Premier Sponsorship has four critical goals:
• to expand the CDL’s tournament participation by 20 percent per year
• to expand the number of schools in the CDL by 10 percent per year
• to expand the CDL’s professional development program by 20 percent per year
• to expand the size and sustainability of the Chicago Debate Commission by 50 percent per year
Details on the wide variety of new programs in the Allstate Premier Sponsorship will be reported throughout the year. They include: sponsoring a Varsity Debate Invitational for many of the top varsity debaters, hosted by Allstate in Northbrook; coaching performance incentives; a new External Coach Initiative; and a “Race to the Top” styled initiative developing innovative performance-improvement ideas from the league’s most valuable programming asset, its more than 130 coaches.
According to Ben Tarver, the Assistant Vice President, Law and Litigation at Allstate, and a member of the Chicago Debate Commission Board, “Allstate is proud to support the powerful, transformative work being done by the Chicago Debate League to help create brighter futures for talented urban students. Our senior management team, including General Counsel Michele Coleman Mayes, admires CDL’s vision and leadership in bringing the private and public sectors together so effectively to address this important cause in the Chicago community.”
Ms. Mayes has previously spoken, in a moving keynote speech to debaters and coaches, to the benefits she sees in supporting the CDL. She recounted her own experiences rising through the legal profession as she relied on strengths and skills very much cultivated by the CDL, including organized thinking, articulateness, self-confidence, the ability to think critically and to substantiate your views with evidence.
Allstate will continue to target the most in-need schools and students with the Allstate “Expanding Opportunities” Initiative. This program began last season and its goal is to help build and expand debate programs at the CDL’s most low-income schools, where Title I student populations are at 85 percent or above. This initiative — in its first year — reached 25 schools, serving 27,000 Title I students, and more than 400 competitive academic debaters.
Allstate will also continue to sponsor the Chicago Debate Championship. During her keynote speech at last year’s city championship, Chicago School Board President Mary Richardson-Lowry expressed her gratitude to Allstate for its substantial backing.
One of the most valuable aspects of Allstate’s corporate contribution is that their efforts are more than just funding of CDL events and programs. Allstate promotes and delivers a very high level of employee volunteer direct involvement. More than 50 Allstate employees have taken part in Allstate Volunteers in the CDL, working at debate tournaments, working with debaters and debate teams, making a difference directly in the lives of young people in the city of Chicago.
Thanks to Allstate, the Chicago Debate League is poised to surpass the heights it reached last year, by touching, changing and transforming the lives of hundreds more urban students in our community through a powerful, research-tested program: academic debate.