Share Your Passion

Share Your Passion

The Project SD was founded by high school student Nihar Duvvuri in 2020 with a goal to introduce Speech & Debate programs in 50 low-income neighborhoods by 2030. The organization does this by supplying schools with funding and coaching. Read on to learn more about this incredible organization!

Origins of The Project SD

In May of 2020, I realized that my speech & debate career had come to a screeching halt. In light of COVID-19, all tournaments had shut down for the unforeseeable future, and I was left to figure out a way to continue participating in what I love most, speech & debate.

I decided to teach a summer speech & debate course to middle schoolers in my neighborhood. Through teaching, I realized how I could continue doing what I love: teach speech & debate to the students that need it most.

This was the genesis of the nonprofit organization The Project SD. I spent my pandemic summer reaching out to friends and fellow competitors in the speech & debate community, hoping that a few might help The Project SD reach its goal: introduce speech and debate programs in 50 low-income communities across the nation by 2030.

A seemingly simple, yet resource heavy task that would require all the help I could get. Thankfully, nearly twenty people were ready from the get-go to join my organization and start working on curriculums, media, sponsorships, and anything else we needed to bring a speech & debate program to life.

Addressing Systemic Issues

The problem I hoped to solve by creating The Project SD is that of the large income inequalities persistent in speech & debate. Speech & debate is an expensive activity, easily costing upwards of $1000 per year for each student. While the upper and middle classes may be able to afford this for their children, the majority of students are not able to afford speech & debate and lose out on a vast educational opportunity.

However, I believe that they should have the opportunity to be a part of the speech & debate community. Speech & debate should be a place for uplifting voices, not suppressing them. By funding full-fledged speech & debate programs at low-income schools and covering all costs, such as tournaments fees, coaches, resources, and more, The Project SD hopes to bridge the income gap in speech & debate and provide everyone with the opportunity to be heard.

Working With Our First Group of Students

In September, we partnered with Gateway Middle School in San Francisco. After weeks of cold emailing, we were elated to finally put the funds we’d raised to good use. Gateway Middle School’s students had never had a speech & debate program before, so our six student coaches taught the foundational skills necessary to them, preparing them for larger tournaments to come in the spring, such as the Stanford Invitational, Har Ber Speaker Series, and the California State Championship.

As the year progressed, we saw the wonderful capabilities of the Gateway students, proving that given the right resources, anyone can be successful. The Project SD worked with approximately 20 students from Gateway Middle School this past year, and plans to expand its reach to Gateway High School in the upcoming school year. However, we can only do so if we continue to raise enough funds to support the students that need it most.

We hope that in these upcoming months, more students will join our organization and play a role in bringing speech & debate to students everywhere. As we continue to expand, we hope to start more programs across the nation in cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas.

Pursue Your Passion, And Share It

The Project SD has been especially rewarding for me personally. I get to share my love for speech & debate with the rest of the world, and in the process, learn more about my community and the people in it.

After a year like 2020, it is crucial that we all step forward to help our communities in whatever way we can. Each of us hold unique abilities–for me, it’s speech & debate. But for you, it may be art, coding, math, recycling, or whatever you are most passionate about. You don’t need to start an organization around it, but I promise you, there are so many people who would love to hear about what you care about most. Share that passion with the world, and good will come out of it.

Visit The Project SD’s website. Donate to The Project SD.