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2026 National Speech & Debate Tournament

Nationals are Coming to Richmond!

The National Speech & Debate Association has selected the Richmond region as the host of its 2026 National Speech & Debate Tournament, an event that is expected to attract 10,000 student contestants and visitors to the area. To be held June 14-19, 2026, this competition is one of the largest academic events in the country.

Richmond Region Tourism and The Richmond Forum have been working to enhance interest in Richmond as a tournament host for more than three years.

Over the past five years, the Richmond Forum Speech & Debate Initiative has engaged more than 1,000 students in speech and debate in the Richmond Region, growing from nine teams to 28 with 43 coaches. Last year’s regional tournament circuit attracted 750 student contestants.

“There is no better fit than partnering with The Richmond Forum’s Speech & Debate Initiative to help usher in the next generation of leaders at the 2026 National Tournament. By partnering with The Richmond Forum, we can shape a brighter future for our students, our communities, and our nation while also creating a tremendous educational opportunity for our programs.”

– J. Scott Wunn, Executive Director of the National Speech & Debate Association

Get Involved

The tournament will involve 7,000 competitors and take place in some 750 classrooms across six schools in the region. Several thousand local volunteers are needed to ensure the National Tournament runs smoothly. If you would like to be informed of volunteer opportunities as 2026 approaches, please fill out the form below.

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“The Richmond Forum’s Speech & Debate Initiative has been cultivating new generations of students and teacher-coaches who are demonstrating tremendous interest in the critical thinking and communications skills speech and debate fosters. Attracting this prestigious tournament to Richmond is a crowning achievement for all of us. We look forward to hosting teams from throughout America, especially at a time when we are celebrating a milestone birthday for our nation.”

Heather Mullins Crislip, Executive Director of The Richmond Forum

contact us

Media Inquiries

Maggie McVicar

Director of Communications


Sponsorship Opportunities

Sandra Wheeler

Director of Student Programs


Team Resources

Lucretia M. Anderson

Speech & Debate Initiative Manager


Support Speech & Debate

With your support, we can make speech & debate programs accessible to all Richmond region students. 

Your generous contribution will help cover tournament entry fees and travel expenses, train coaches and judges, outfit students with professional clothing, support the organization of local tournaments, and much more.

110 South 15th Street
Suite B
Richmond, VA 23219

Office: (804) 330-3993
Office Hours: 9am – 5pm
Program Day: 10am – noon

Presenting powerful voices so Richmond can learn. Empowering local voices so Richmond can lead.

The Richmond Forum and its partners are proud to support the Richmond Forum Speech & Debate Initiative, a community initiative to bring speech & debate programs to all of our region’s public schools.

The Richmond Forum is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) educational organization.

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