Dear NHSEB community,
I hope you’ve all had a safe and happy holiday season. It’s been quite the year for us all, and 2020 has revealed deep challenges to our democracy and way of life in the forms of the destabilizing COVID-19 pandemic, accompanying economic and social crises, and a national moral reckoning around questions of racial identity, equity, and belonging. Earlier this year, I wrote to you that this year would be one unlike any other in the National High School Ethics Bowl’s history. This remains the case. Today, while the challenging climate has not yet dissipated, I am happy to report that the state of the Ethics Bowl is strong. I am impressed daily by the hard work and commitment of our large and diverse community of people who participate in, organize, and support Ethics Bowl all across the United States, and indeed, increasingly, across the world. I am truly grateful for your efforts, even and especially during a very challenging year.
As 2020 draws to a close, I ask that you remember NHSEB’s mission and impact, and consider a contribution as part of your year-end giving. As we make final preparations for our first Ethics Bowl season conducted online, launch and scale new programming, and continue our growth around the country, now is a particularly crucial time for support. In view of this, we are excited to announce that all financial gifts up to $55,000 will be matched, dollar for dollar, by the Marc Sanders Foundation.
Give to the NHSEB via the Marc Sanders Foundation
You may take pride in knowing that your gift, of whatever size, provides vital support for the core mission and values of the NHSEB, and enhances the empowering and educational experiences our program provides for thousands of students, representing nearly 400 schools. These students compete in 40 regional high school ethics bowls, spread across 31 states, and their winners will meet in Nationals competition this coming April.
Your gift will also support a burgeoning slate of new and innovative programming for various NHSEB constituencies:
- This past Fall, we launched NHSEBAcademy, a new online space for learning about and around the National High School Ethics Bowl. There, hundreds of students, coaches, volunteers and organizers have made use of our new and growing resource library, booked on demand Studio Hours with expert NHSEB coaches, and attended an exciting slate of events in our NHSEBAcademy Live.
- Earlier this December, the Parr Center hosted the first iteration of NHSEBBridge, an all-new, all virtual high school ethics bowl for teams in their very first year of involvement with our activity. Around 50 students from 6 teams participated in our pilot program in 2020, and received expert coaching assistance thanks to an integration with a service learning course in the UNC Philosophy Department, “Ethics Bowl and Democratic Deliberation.” They competed for a shot at our Spring playoffs on December 5, and were warmly welcomed to the activity by a dedicated group of NHSEB staff, volunteers, and friends.
- Finally, in January 2021, we’re very excited to launch NHSEBOne, the cornerstone of our virtual-first strategy for 2020-2021, and an important part of NHSEB’s pedagogical strategy moving forward. This new platform, whose initial development has been supported by some of our key partners and a consortium of NHSEB regional affiliates, will allow us to administer all 2020-2021 NHSEB events in a safe and reliable online space for the first time in the organization’s history.
These three new programs, as well as our continued growth and impact, are underwritten and indeed made possible for our constituents by your generous support.
Now, perhaps more than ever, it is crucial for us to think, discuss, and get to work together on the issues that confront us all. All across the country students are sitting down to the difficult task of doing just this—from assessing the moral dimensions of the pandemic to thinking hard about the roles of building names and policing, from evaluating modes of disagreement to answering tough questions about privacy on social media. In some states, competition is off to an early start, with regionals having already occurred in Virginia and North Carolina with the NHSEBBridge bowl. All of these students, of course, are the reason we are all here, and the reason that many of you likely feel so strongly about our program. The Ethics Bowl format provides a venue for students to hone their skills and work together in truly collaborative fashion, even over deeply entrenched disagreements. An overwhelming majority of those students affirm that participation in the NHSEB empowers them and helps them to sharpen skills they will need to engage and thrive in an increasingly diverse and complicated world. Of the students who participated in our program in 2019-2020:
One student summarizes things thus: “[The NHSEB] is an experience unlike any other. It is both the most fun I’ve ever had while also stretching my critical thinking skills and helping me engage in civil discourse in a whole new way. The cases are interesting and multi-faceted, the students are thoughtful and intelligent, and the directors and volunteers are extremely hardworking and kind. I am beyond grateful for this experience and the skills and friendships I’ve developed because of it.”
Providing these very spaces and designing new opportunities for students constitutes the core mission that lies at the heart of the National High School Ethics Bowl. A democratic society depends on citizens’ ability and willingness to reflect on, discuss, and, yes, vigorously disagree about core values in a way that is respectful, civil, and productive. It is these skills which the NHSEB fosters in the students it serves, and they are hungry for the chance to think and work together on the issues that affect their lives. Your generosity helps us realize this mission, and brings the virtues and values of democratic citizenship to students across the United States and around the world. I hope you’ll consider supporting us as we look forward to 2021.
Gratefully, and with warm wishes for a wonderful new year,
Director, National High School Ethics Bowl