Harvard Diversity Project Surprises a New Cohort of 26 Black Atlanta Youth
ATLANTA, Georgia (September 24, 2018) – On Sunday, Sept. 23, a new cohort of 26 Atlanta Great Debaters were surprised with the news of their acceptance into the Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project (HDCDP).
Brandon Fleming, Assistant Debate Coach at Harvard University and Founder of HDCDP, shares, “After our inaugural 2018 class made history and gained national admiration, we are thrilled for the opportunity to once again show the world what it looks like when scholarship meets culture.”
Hundreds of students throughout Metro Atlanta applied to join the latest cohort of scholars that would continue the legacy set by the former champions. Of the myriad of applicants, 50 advanced to an arduous vetting process, after which 26 candidates were invited to a surprise acceptance announcement. The energy and emotion-filled surprise, which took place at The Art Institute of Atlanta, was disguised as a final interview round that turned out to be a magical, unforgettable moment for the students and their parents.
“As a final challenge, each student entered a room was donned in a Harvard sweatshirt and instructed to pretend that they were a Harvard ambassador. They were then tasked to give an impromptu speech persuading the panel of judges why a student should choose Harvard as their number one college choice,” Fleming said. “Concurrently, parents were being interviewed by board members—a strategic ploy to assemble the families for the big surprise.”
As the students and parents were being dismissed, Fleming invited the 26 candidates, having no idea what would happen next, to step forward for a group picture.
“It was such a powerful moment,” said HDCDP Board President Dani Ayers. “As proud, yet anxious, parents positioned themselves to capture the moment on their cameras, the room went completely dark and a video began to play on the screen. The faces of each student appeared, followed by a congratulatory image announcing the 26 students as the Class of 2019. It was electric—with a confetti shower, tears of joy, and shrills of excitement and astonishment from the students and their parents.”
“Words really can’t describe the feeling after I heard that I was accepted into the Diversity Project,” said Trinity Franklin, a 11th grader at Benjamin E. Mays High School and member of the 2019 HDCDP class, “I accomplished a big milestone in my life for myself and my mother. When I was crying, they were tears of joy because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Now it’s official, 26 Black Atlanta youth have started their 10-month journey to the Harvard Debate Council summer residency at Harvard University as the second class of HDCDP.
About Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project: A subsidiary of Harvard College, HDCDP is an Atlanta-based pipeline program that provides Black youth access and exposure to accelerated academic training in critical thinking, communication and civic engagement. HDCDP seeks to matriculate underrepresented students into the Harvard Debate Council's summer residency.
For more information, please contact Kelli Bennett at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at 317-457-4759.
Black Atlanta Youth Make History at Harvard Debate Council
Atlanta-Based Harvard Diversity Pipeline Students Triumph Over Global Competitors
Atlanta, Georgia - July 17, 2018 – On Saturday, July 14 Atlanta’s Great Debaters returned home from Harvard University as champions. The 25 young scholars participated in an annual residency hosted by the Harvard Debate Council. The summer institute concluded with a single-elimination tournament, of which students of the Atlanta-based Harvard Debate Council Diversity (HDCDP) pipeline were victorious.
Jordan Thomas from Grady High School brought home the first-place victory for the entire competition while 10 of the 12 Atlanta teams advanced to octo-finals, six progressed to the quarter-finals and two continued to the semi-finals.
Jordan shares, “Being a young, middle class, Black, public school student from the South created a stigma that automatically set me back in comparison to the competition, most of who were international students or from preparatory schools in the Northeast,” Thomas said. “But I was determined to represent my city and my story. I wanted people to see where I came from and how I could keep up with them. To bring the championship back to Atlanta was the most satisfying feeling, and to walk onto the campus of one of the most elite universities in the world and meet personal and council goals, brings a unique and new satisfaction that I’ve never experienced.”
Each summer, the Harvard Debate Council hosts their prestigious summer residential program at Harvard University for nearly 400 students from around the world. Students undergo a daily 10-hour academic regimen, learning from highly accomplished debate professors and instructors who engage them through rigorous curricula centered on research, analysis, argumentation and political science.
The program concludes with a single-elimination tournament that allows students to apply the acquired knowledge and skills in competition. The HDCDP students were divided into 12 teams and competed against youth from across the world including Asia, Europe and Russia. Many debate faculty noted that from the outset, the Atlanta teams dominated the competition.
Preparing for Greatness in Atlanta
Six months prior to heading to Harvard University, the young Atlanta scholars vigorously prepared. They sacrificed their Saturdays to learn the rudiments of public speaking, argumentation, critical thinking and more from Brandon Fleming, Harvard University Assistant Debate Coach and founder of HDCDP. Of over 150 Metro Atlanta applicants, the 25 students were selected as the inaugural HDCDP class. Most of the students are inexperienced debaters from 16 different schools in the metro-Atlanta region.
“Thanks to our executive board, along with individual and corporate funders including Chick-fil-A Foundation, The Coca-Cola Company, UPS, Publix Supermarkets, The Art Institute of Atlanta, and MBC Concessions, we raised over $100,000 in just six months to fund the tuition, travel and room and board for all 25 of our students,” said Fleming.
Recognizing the lack of African-American presence at the Harvard summer program in previous years and the power the art of debate can have, Fleming established the Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project as an Atlanta-based pipeline that would recruit, train and send students of color to Harvard on full scholarship.
Thomas credits his victory and the council’s success to the encouraging, family nature of the HDCDP. “What separates the Diversity Project from other academic groups is that it is not a competition between each other, rather it is an incubator of intellect and a cultivator of brilliance,” he said. “You can find nothing but support in this family in everything that you do. This family brings people together. No matter which school we attended or socioeconomic status, we all fall under the same umbrella and accomplished our goal together.”
“No other activity [outside of academic debate] imbues young people with a skill set that will train them to be effective students, communicators and citizens. Debate combines competition with advocacy, making it rewarding and worthwhile for even the most reluctant students to learn to research, read, speak and write successfully,” says Tripp Rebrovick, Ph.D. Head Coach of Debate at Harvard University.
The Diversity Project will open applications for the next cohort to train at Harvard in Summer 2019. With the application not opening until August 15, more than 350 nominations have already been submitted.
About the Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project: Built on scholarship, leadership and culture, the Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project (HDCDP) was created to raise the young social and political voice in urban Atlanta and to matriculate African-American students into the Harvard Debate Council’s residential summer program at Harvard. Brandon Fleming, Harvard University Assistant Coach of Debate, serves as the program’s executive director alongside a 20-member executive board. The inaugural class of the HDCDP began in January 2018 with 25 students. This accelerated academic program is a subsidiary of the Harvard Debate Council at Harvard University. More information can be found at www.harvarddcdp.org. Join the social media conversation on Facebook and LinkedIn at Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project and Instagram: @hdcdiversity.
For additional information contact Brandon Fleming at email@example.com or call 678-322-8057.
For interviews with administration or recipients, features or quotes, please contact Kelli Bennett at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at 317-457-4759.
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HARVARD DEBATE COUNCIL SPEARHEADS INAUGURAL DIVERSITY PROJECT REVEAL IN ATLANTA
Atlanta-Based Diversity Pipeline Program Teams Up with The Art Institute of Atlanta to Reward 25 Students with Scholarship Money for Residential Summer Program
Atlanta, Georgia - January 15, 2018 – Yesterday, Harvard Debate Council held the Inaugural Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project Surprise Reveal, which was held at The Art Institute of Atlanta from 3pm – 5pm. At this event, 25 African American students were rewarded with scholarship money to join Harvard’s prestigious residential Summer Program.
Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project is an Atlanta-based diversity pipeline program created to raise the young social and political voice in urban Atlanta and to matriculate African American students into the Harvard Debate Council’s residential summer program for high school students at Harvard College (in Cambridge, MA).
The event took place at: The Art Institute of Atlanta (6600 Peachtree Dunwoody Rd., Atlanta, GA 30328)
“The 25 students we selected were surprised with the news of their acceptance and were rewarded with scholarship money from The Art Institute of Atlanta to attend Harvard Debate Council’s residential summer program at Harvard College,” says Executive Director of the Harvard Debate Council, Brandon Fleming.
The event’s recipients initially believed that they were coming to be interviewed for admission. But at the end, the students were surprised with news of their acceptance and scholarship. With the program, student participants will not only study debate at Harvard, but also gain academic excellence, leadership acumen, and cultural pride. This program is also designed to provide students firsthand experience of residential life at Harvard College and an opportunity to learn from accomplished debate professors and coaches.
Between January and June 2018, students will receive intensive training by Harvard instructors in preparation to study at Harvard College during the summer. The Art Institute of Atlanta has offered its facility as the program’s headquarters where training sessions will be held.
"We know that education, in all its forms, is a transformative force for the common good. We also know that it does start with a dialogue that uplifts, energizes, motivates, and enables young adults to embark on a path that will lead them to achieve their dreams,” says President Newton Myvett, The Art Institute of Atlanta. “We are unleashing creativity, empowering people, and impacting the places where we live, love, and learn in unprecedented ways—giving shape to the boldest dreams and noblest causes."
The Art Institute of Atlanta, a Private, Accredited, Nonprofit Institution, contributed a total of $10,500 towards the inaugural class of 2018. The Harvard Debate Council is still seeking individuals, corporations, and organizations to join in their efforts to raise $88,000 scholarship dollars to cover tuition, room & board, and travel for the recipients.
Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project’s Inaugural Class of 2018 is made up of:
“No other activity [outside of academic debate] imbues young people with a skillset that will train t hem to be effective students, communicators and citizens. Debate combines competition with advocacy, making it rewarding and worthwhile for even the most reluctant students to learn to research, read, speak and write successfully,” says Tripp Rebrovick, Ph.D. Head Coach of Debate at Harvard University
For more information, please visit: http://www.harvardDCDP.org.
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Harvard Debate Council Launches Inaugural Program for Minority Youth in Metro Atlanta
Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project to Raise Students’ Social and Political Voice
ATLANTA, Ga. — Atlanta is now home to the Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project (HDCDP). Program applications were opened for the inaugural class on Monday, Oct. 2 to ninth-11th grade high school students living in the Metro-Atlanta area (Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry and Rockdale counties, and the city of Atlanta).
In addition to raising the social and political voice in urban Atlanta, the HDCDP is designed to matriculate African-American students into the Harvard Debate Council’s residential summer program at Harvard University. This program gives students first-hand experience of residential life at Harvard University and an opportunity to learn from accomplished debate professors and coaches.
“Black people are magical,” said Brandon P. Fleming, HDCDP Executive Director and Assistant Coach of Debate at Harvard University. “I believe that whatever we haven’t accomplished as a community is not due to a lack of ability, but rather an absence of high-quality educational opportunities. African Americans are still fighting to compete on a level playing field in society. This truth inevitably results in an underrepresentation on leadership platforms and unheard voices regarding critical issues that adversely affect our communities. If we truly desire diversity in American leadership, then this connection is one that we cannot afford to neglect.”
This program is one of the first of its kind, said Fleming, and will help student participants leverage both academia and leadership, as well as, present new possibilities to them. Students will attend sessions two Saturdays a month from January 2018 to June 2018. These interactive sessions will consist of critical thinking, research, and debate lessons. In Atlanta, HDCDP students will also attend lectures from Harvard debate instructors to learn the principles of debate and argumentation, and to prepare for debates centered on critical social and political issues. Other HDCDP activities include visits to the Georgia State Capitol, Atlanta City Hall, law firms and courtrooms, which will serve as real-life debate stages.
“No other activity [besides academic debate] imbues young people with a skillset that will train them to be effective students, communicators and citizens. Debate combines competition with advocacy, making it rewarding and worthwhile for even the most reluctant students to learn to research, read, speak and write successfully.” said Tripp Rebrovick, PhD, Head Coach of Debate at Harvard University.
In addition to empowering and equipping area youth with unparalleled opportunities, the HDCDP also meets goals of the Harvard Debate Council. “The council is committed to both increasing the diversity of the student population at its summer workshop and expanding opportunities for high school students to participate in debate around the country and world,” Rebrovick said.
Atlanta: A Hub for Black Excellence and Possibilities
Atlanta was selected as the program’s base for a number of reasons including Fleming’s avid recommendation and the existence of a vibrant high school and college debate community in the city. This will allow HDCDP students to join this community and participate in competitions without having to travel to a different city, Rebrovick said.
Atlanta’s rich black history and home of the Civil Rights Movement also contributed to the decision to locate the program in the city. “Home to two of the most prestigious HBCUs [historically black colleges and universities] in the country, we knew there was no better intellectual training ground for black youth than the city of Atlanta. This city will also provide the support necessary for our youth to thrive on a national stage,” Fleming said.
Application specific includes a verifiable, Metro-Atlanta address, current enrollment in the ninth, 10th or 11th grade, a one-page recommendation letter and a short minute video detailing the student’s contributions to the project. A 3.0 minimum grade point average is also preferred. The application deadline is Dec. 18.
Currently, the project is funded by an initial grant from the Harvard Debate Council. In order to grow the program, the council and 14-member advisory board are seeking individual and corporate sponsorships from the community.
Fleming provides encouragement for parents and students considering the program. “Seek and embrace the challenge,” he urged. “Academic performance is not sufficient for the world’s leading colleges and universities; these programs are seeking students that demonstrate leadership acumen—and that’s what the Diversity Project helps to fulfill.”
About the Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project: Built on scholarship, leadership and culture, the Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project (HDCDP) was created to raise the young social and political voice in urban Atlanta and to matriculate African-American students into the Harvard Debate Council’s residential summer program at Harvard University. Assistant Coach of Debate at Harvard University Brandon P. Fleming serves as the program’s executive director alongside a 13-member advisory board. The inaugural class of the HDCDP will begin in January 2018, in which 25 students will be selected. This enhanced academic program is sponsored by the Harvard Debate Council. More information can be found at www.harvarddcdp.org. Join the social media conversation at: on Facebook and LinkedIn at Harvard Debate Council Diversity Project and Instagram: @hdcdiversity.