Beyond the Debate Binary: Financial Literacy Leadership

What does debate look like without a pro/con side? We’re answering that question in Financial Literacy Leadership Debates!

Washburn debaters pose with medals

Our most recent season of Financial Literacy Leadership Debate put a new spin on the curriculum. Past topics have asked students to examine cryptocurrency, private vs public universities, and public transportation vs purchasing a car. This year, students weighed: national banks vs credit unions vs neobanks. Instead of using the standard affirmative side/negative side model of debate, our participants were asked roleplay as multiple types of individuals. For example, which model is most appropriate for a high school student, recent college graduate, or new parent? There’s no one-size-fits-all answer in life, and that’s especially true of personal finance! 


financial literacy photo

Our executive director, Amy Cram Helwich, presents Shanya with a medal. Photo Credit: Archit Mishra 

Shanya from Como Park High School, who has debate experience from competing in policy debate and serving as a middle school coach, tells us,


“What’s different is that the profile puts us in a specific scenario. We had to argue for that specific person and their needs versus just arguing what’s better and what’s worse.” 


In the process of researching and competing, students learn how specific concepts, such as interest rates and creditworthiness, change during different phases of life. 


Besides specific knowledge, the activity also reinforces the value of financial knowledge. Shania adds, “I also learned that financial literacy is very important, so I think that’s something we all should pay attention to.” 


Group of Financial Literacy Debate Volunteers

Thank you to our outstanding volunteers!



We are grateful to all the leaders in finance who volunteered their time to help girls and gender expansive youth build financial literacy knowledge, confidence, and connections this season. Join them next season as a volunteer! No debate experience is required. 


Volunteer Tiffany Walker, Financial Advisor at CAPTRUST, shares what motivated her to participate. 


“I’m passionate about financial literacy specifically for young women and young adults. There have been so many times I’ve heard that women don’t even know that financial services is a career that they could enjoy. This was my way of making sure that we get the word out that this is a great career.” 


Contact us at to be connected with our program team and learn more about this opportunity!