History of the Pat Brown Institute Debate Program

Four years ago, we embarked on an effort to brand a new kind of debate program.  This effort was developed in partnership with the League of Women Voters of Los Angeles and our media partner KABC7 and started with the 2013 L.A. City Mayoral race.  Since then, the Debate Program has expanded to partnerships with local nonprofits and school-based organizations to teach high school and college students how to serve as moderators and panelists.  Additionally, the Institute holds in-service sessions to educate the students on the fundamentals of researching the important issues associated with the level of government to which the candidates seek election. The Institute is proud of two recent accomplishments of the organization.  One is the televised 2016 U.S. Senate Debate held on October 5th.  This debate was the only US Senate runoff debate for the entire State of California for this elected office that had not had an open election in over 20 years.  The debate was lived streamed with over 150,000 viewers.  The Cal State LA student who presented questions to the candidates on behalf of the 27,000-student body described the experience as “a celebration of democracy here at Cal State LA. a powerful moment that we will remember forever.”  Two debates in early 2017, our student-led candidate debates in three Los Angeles Unified School Districts, conducted in collaboration with the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, exceeded attendance projections by over 400%.  Because of the enormity of the LAUSD, the candidates elected to the Board are expected to become future candidates to higher levels of government such as the Assembly, State Senate, and U.S. Congress.  These young people learned the value and importance of informed civil discourse.  “When we get involved in civic engagement we see there is an entirely different empowerment and we see that students finally feel they are important.”


Debate Programs

2016 U.S. Senate Debate - IN 2016, OUR DEBATE PARTNERSHIP WAS SELECTED TO CONDUCT THE ONLY DEBATE FOR THE CALIFORNIA U.S. SENATE, ON OCTOBER 5TH AT CAL STATE LA. THIS TIME, OUR LEAGUE PARTNER WAS THE LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF CALIFORNIA EDUCATION FUND.