The SpeakFirst initiative enriches the academic experience of talented and motivated students from Birmingham-area high schools through participation in a competitive debate team. The initiative gathers twenty-two exemplary high school students from Birmingham-area schools that do not provide a formal debate team experience into one team that participates in tournaments in Alabama and across the Southeast.

This highly collaborative initiative addresses a wide array of needs including one-on-one tutoring and mentoring, college admissions and financial aid guidance, standardized test preparation, youth development activities, and summer internships for the debaters. Since the inception of SpeakFirst in 2004, our high-school students have competed in more than 100 tournaments.  SpeakFirst’s first ten graduating classes (46 students) have earned more than $5.5 million in college scholarships.

SpeakFirst also collaborates with seven middle schools to host a intra-city debate league in the Birmingham area.  We currently serve seven Birmingham City Middle Schools with over 100 students participating in debate at the Middle School level.  


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Summary of Position:

SpeakFirst High School Coaches serve on a team of three under the direction of the SpeakFirst Program Director.  SpeakFirst coaches serve as coaches, teacher/discussion leaders, and mentors who guide and improve our debaters’ research, argumentation, and speaking skills.


Position Requirements:

Under the direction  of the SpeakFirst Program Director, SpeakFirst High School coaches may be assigned to assist with or lead any of the following:

  • Manage and coach practices three evenings per week
  • Provide detailed research instruction thorough editing of student work and one-on-one research, and brief and case writing instruction
  • Coordinate registration and participation in 8-10 weekend tournaments throughout the academic year as well as travel to and judge and coach at those tournaments
  • Coordinate college admissions planning and summer internships for students
  • Manage volunteer tutors and mentors during homework tutoring sessions
  • Organize extracurricular events to expose the students to important cultural and historical learning opportunities  throughout Alabama
  • Design a summer debate orientation for new students
  • Organize recruitment for the next class of debaters
  • Design weekly workshops for middle school coaches
  • Coordinate instruction weekly at one of the program’s middle schools (Mondays, 3-5pm)
  • Assist at four middle school tournaments throughout the year
  • Option to serve with other Impact America initiatives: FocusFirst, a vision care program for preschoolers and SaveFirst, a free tax preparation program for low income families.

Position currently available in Birmingham, AL.


Skills Required:

Successful candidates will exhibit a commitment to improving the lives of economically disadvantaged families, a record of community service and/or civic engagement, leadership skills, the ability to work well with a diverse group of individuals (e.g., college students, children, community partners), flexibility in a fast-paced environment, and a positive attitude.


Candidates with prior experience in debate and/or education generally will be prioritized. SpeakFirst devotes three full-time AmeriCorps coaches to twenty-two students, under the supervision of the Program Director, to ensure a rigorous learning environment is maintained. A strong candidate will be able to work collaboratively on a staff of coaches lead by the Program Director and demonstrate flexibility and a strong commitment to improving our student’s debate skills.  Coaches should be able to manage a substantial amount of independent work hours conducting research on debate topics and demonstrate enthusiasm for teaching high school how to debate well.



Impact Alabama is an AmeriCorps Program®. Benefits include the following:

  • Monthly living stipend
  • $5,920 education award (received upon completion of term of service)
  • Health insurance
  • Meals when providing service outside of your home county
  • Mileage reimbursement when driving your personal car for service
  • All travel costs during overnight trips (hotel, rental car, meals)
  • Ongoing professional development and training


Additional information:

The position begins July 2019, and ends July 2020, and is based in Birmingham, Alabama (some flexibility can be provided with the end date). This a full-time (40 hours per week) position. You will receive ten vacation days plus holiday breaks (including a 3-day holiday break at Thanksgiving, 2-week winter holiday at the end of December, and a 2-day spring holiday in April).

Impact America welcomes applications from individuals with disabilities. We have sought to identify the essential functions and physical requirements of all service positions and will make reasonable accommodations through scheduling, task reassignment, and other methods to accommodate applicants and AmeriCorps members. Please contact the Recruitment Director should you need accommodations in order to apply.


For questions, contact our Recruiting Team, SpeakFirst Director

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Equal Employment Opportunity/ Nondiscrimination Policy

Reasonable Accommodation Policy