Coolidge Cup Online Qualifier

If you are not able to make it to one of the Qualifying Tournaments this year, or if you did but were not one of the top finishers that received a bid from one of those tournaments, you can still compete for a bid to the Coolidge Cup via this online application.

To compete for an invitation to the Coolidge Cup, fill out the application at the bottom of this page. The application asks you to list your debating accomplishments and provide a five-minute video of yourself delivering either an opening affirmative or negative statement on the resolution that we have provided below.

Application Open and Close Dates

  • The application OPENS on Friday, February 1, 2019. The application form and the resolution for the video component are posted here.
  • The application CLOSES on Wednesday, May 15th at (11:59pm ET). Applicants will be notified as to whether they have received an invitation to the Coolidge Cup by Sunday, May 26, 2019.

Resolution for Your Video Speech

Resolved: The United States should end the tax exemption for employer-sponsored health insurance.

[Download our one-page backgrounder that includes recommended readings and resources.]

Video Dos and Don’ts

  • DO keep your video to under 5 minutes
  • DO title your video on YouTube with your name and your position (i.e., affirmative or negative)
  • DO feel free to choose either side of the resolution (there is no “right answer”)
  • DO NOT use any props, or edit your video to enhance it with music, photos, graphics, etc.
  • DO NOT use language that would make your video unsuitable for a general audience
  • DO NOT wear or display awards or medals from other competitions

Application Judging Criteria

Each application will be scored on three areas: 1) debate accomplishments listed in the application, 2) speaking content from the video submission, and 3) speaking style from the video submission. Each of those three areas is worth up to 10 points for a total of 30 possible points. The scoring is done internally and confidentially by the Coolidge Foundation. We do not share final scores, and unfortunately due to the volume of applications we receive, we cannot give individual feedback. We will, however, let you know whether you have won one of the available Coolidge Cup invitations by the notification date above. The exact number of invitations that are open via this option will not be released until after the application closes.

With regard to video content, we are looking for: a) a clearly articulated opinion in response to the resolution, b) a compelling argument that an educated citizen would understand, and c) use of good-quality evidence. You should structure your speech appropriately, with a clear introduction, body, and conclusion. Inclusion of Coolidge quotes or ideas can add a nice touch, but they are neither required nor expected.

With regard to style, we are looking for students to speak at an appropriate volume, with good articulation, and at a reasonable rate of speed (i.e., excessively fast talking or “spreading” is not recommended). Other elements of style include good eye contact, appropriate gesturing, and good posture.


This application is open to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia who are current high school students and who have received permission in writing from a parent or legal guardian. (Students must be in grades 9-12 as of May 2019.) “Solo” or “independent” students are welcome to apply, meaning that you do not need to be part of a debate team or club. All students are required to upload a signed Media Release along with their entry.


The Coolidge Cup Online Qualifier has closed for 2019. We are reviewing the applications now and will notify all applicants by Sunday, May 26th. Thank you.