Origin and Mission

On January 27, 2020, Governor Ron DeSantis announced a multiyear, $5 million grant from The Marcus Foundation to support civics education through speech and debate programs with the creation of the Florida Civics and Debate Initiative (FCDI).

The mission of the FCDI is to create access and opportunities for all students to have the best civics education including curriculum, debate programs, and high-quality teachers that are catalysts for students becoming great citizens who can preserve our constitutional republic for future generations.

Florida Civics & Debate Initiative Goals

Within the seven regions in the map above, the FCDI will expand programs into 30 new districts in the first year with the intent to implement in all school districts by 2023. This will increase access for all students to participate in speech and debate programs, regardless of school district, socioeconomic status, or background.

Expand Local Civics, Speech & Debate Programs

The FCDI will develop and host the first of its kind National Civics and Debate Competition (NCDC), which will allow a broader range of students to explore, understand, and express important constitutional, legal, and societal issues.

Host a National Civics Debate Competition

Provide Teacher Professional Development

Professional Development opportunities will be provided to teachers and debate coaches throughout the year to provide educators with techniques and best practices for teaching civics, speech, and debate.

Stay Informed!

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In the News

Governor Ron DeSantis Announces Florida Civics and Debate Initiative with
The Marcus Foundation

January 27, 2020
Boca Raton, Fla. –
Today, Governor Ron DeSantis announced the Florida Civics and Debate Initiative with The Marcus Foundation for elevating civic knowledge, civic skills and civic disposition for middle and high school students. The Marcus Foundation has committed $5 million over a three-year period to the Florida Education Foundation to increase our students’ access to speech and debate programs. To show support for this initiative the Governor has requested $375,000 in the Bolder, Brighter, Better Future budget to implement this first-of-its-kind civics and debate initiative.

“Since taking office, my administration has introduced several major initiatives to affirm my commitment to public education in Florida, especially in improving Florida’s K-12 education system,” said Governor DeSantis. “By offering civic debate, we can better challenge our students to think critically and provide them with the knowledge of our nation’s founding principles and institutions. I hope that this initiative will have a strong impact on classrooms and school campuses across our state as we look to build a bolder, brighter, and better education system in Florida.”

“I have long been a proponent of civics education in the classroom,” said philanthropist Bernie Marcus, chairman of The Marcus Foundation. “Every child needs to understand the ideals that our country was founded on. What Florida is doing to bring civics and debate to every student is very innovative and should be a model for the rest of the country. I applaud Governor DeSantis and Education Commissioner Corcoran for their leadership and vision and am glad to be a partner in this effort.”

“Thank you to Bernie Marcus and The Marcus Foundation for their generous contribution to the Florida Civics and Debate Initiative,” said Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran. “This funding will empower Florida’s students to improve themselves, their education and their future through the profound impacts of speech and debate programs. Research shows that almost 100 percent of debate students attend college, and debate promotes higher level of student civic participation, creating civically engaged lifelong learners. Governor DeSantis has prioritized civics, and this initiative will be instrumental in providing students with the opportunity to become great citizens that will preserve our constitutional republic for future generations.”

The Florida Civics and Debate Initiative is expected to:
1. Promote the expansion of middle and high school debate and speech programs to all of Florida’s public school districts;
2. Increase middle school civics end of course state passage rate from 71 percent to 80 percent;
3. Increase high school U.S. history end of course state passage rate from 71 percent to 75 percent;
4. Implement a National Civics, Speech, and Debate competition for all students—the first-of-its-kind in the nation; and
5. Make Florida a nationwide leader in training high school teachers in all Florida counties and train other states to continue or begin to successfully run competitive speech and debate teams at their schools.