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On the passing of our Board Chair and Founder, David Budinger

by Erik Fogel | May 29, 2018 9:17:12 AM | |
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Screenshot 2018-05-28 20.31.41


We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of David Budinger, Board Chair of the New York City Urban Debate League. David served as our Board Chair since our founding in 2011.  Heck, David was our Founder.


I first met David as a school teacher years ago in the South Bronx.  I had a small debate team of about 10 middle school and high school students and we had no budget or resources to compete against the city’s top debate programs.  And so I posted a project on Donors Choose which supports school teachers, pleading for computers for our debate team. And someone named “David” donated to our Debate Team.  And not only that project but project after project for our Debate Team as it continued to grow - snacks for our after school program to debate supplies to even helping us travel to out of state tournaments to supporting students attend summer debate camps at colleges.  I always would receive a letter or email from “David” in support of our debaters!!!  So finally David reached out to have lunch with me to learn more about the debate team and the rest was history!  He would visit our school, meet our debaters, meet with my Principal - and demand more support for the Debaters! :))  Teach me about fundraising and nonprofit work!  Always yell at me when I didn’t write thank you notes to donors to the debate team!!  :))  Send me fundraising and nonprofit news clips and articles every week by mail!  And do incredible things for our students to inspire them such as organizing Broadway showings, games at Yankee Stadium, dinners and special events for our debate team. As a result our debate team grew and grew until we had over 100 debaters at our school and one of the top debate programs in the city, state and nation and many of our students received college scholarships because of debate. And when the city’s debate league ended operations, David helped to rebuild a debate league for the city. Helped us to build a nonprofit from the ground up. Served as our Board Chair, organized our committees, started fundraising events.  Recruited so many supporters, volunteers, schools, donors - everyone to build a debate league for the city.  And so from 10 students, we now work with thousands of students each year where David continues his impact.  David would volunteer at nearly every debate tournament on a Saturday, he would take all our staff out to dinners or breakfasts, he would stay in touch with all our alumni and the original 10 debaters that he supported and congratulated them on every graduation, every scholarship, every Birthday, every achievement. There was absolutely nothing that David would say no to when it came to supporting youth and educators.


And the crazy thing … I’m just one teacher he supported on Donors Choose.  He has supported hundreds of teachers and thousands of students over the years in NYC and across the nation - bringing debate to schools with no debate teams, bringing technology to classrooms with no computers to building athletic programs for schools without athletic teams to building drama departments to schools without drama classes… and those are only the ones I learn about from others and word out mouth. His modesty, his passion, his commitment, his heart for educators and youth has no limits. And his impact on students, teachers and classrooms is infinite.


And so while David’s passing is tragic news, there is no passing. His work, his impact, his inspiration continues every single day in the NYC Urban Debate League, in the hundreds of classrooms, schools, teachers and nonprofits he has supported over the years, in the thousands of students he impacted.  We would not have a debate league in NYC without David - not to mention the countless other programs he has founded over the years.


So thank you David for your infinite impact, heart, smile, wisdom, stories, debates, support and friendship.  And my apologies because these words and single post do not come even close of expressing and thanking you for your infinite impact on educators, schools and youth everywhere. 


We will pass on any updates from David's families and friends.  And if you would like to share any remembrances and pictures please email us at erik@debate.nyc


Please join us on June 19th for David's funeral: 


Tuesday June 19 at 10:00am 
Holy Family church 
315 E. 47th St. 
New York, NY 10017


- Erik

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