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SPEAK Grows & Overcomes New Challenges: Thanks for a Great Second Quarter!

View the full Quarterly Newsletter here:!

In the final quarter of 2016, SPEAK focused on programs in new environments with different clientele, while expanding our volunteer base, organizational capacity, and seeking out new opportunities for programs in the future. We simultaneously ran programs at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility in South Burlington and the Lund Family Center.

What We’ve Accomplished:

CRCF Continues to Thrive: As of this coming February, we will have been continually operating a program at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility (CRCF) in South Burlington for two years. This achievement is thanks solely to our dedicated base of volunteers and talented lead instructors. At CRCF, Isabella Olson and Victoria Scozzaro led their students through what was widely seen as one of our most successful eight-week curriculum cycles thus far. The program culminated in a debate as to whether recovering opiate addicts should have access to maintenance drugs, such as methodone or suboxone. With a topic so close to home for many of the women in the facility, the four speakers each recited impassioned arguments that were deeply informed by their own personal experience while also highly detailed and factual. Additionally, several other instructors were able to run shorter cycles that focused more on impromptu debates in an effort to foster quicker critical thinking skills in our students.

SPEAK Runs First Program at Lund Family Center: Lund’s mission is to break cycles of poverty, addiction, and abuse by supporting pregnant and parenting teens, young adults, and adoptive families with integrated, compassionate services. SPEAK Inc. was honored to support this mission and promote the powerful voices of Lund's program participants by running our first ten-week session at Lund this fall. Led by SPEAK founder, Jessica Bullock, and experienced trainer and UVM debater, Charlotte Gliserman, the program culminated in a debate on the practical and ethical ramifications of cloning, as well as an independent student’s speech advocating for greater participant choice in Lund's curriculum. It was a great program and a great deal of fun; we look forward to providing continued programs at Lund in the future!

SPEAK in the News: Yes, We SPEAK Medicine! The UVM College of Medicine's blog, UVM Medicine, recently published a piece by Liam Donnelly. Liam, who had no prior debate experience before SPEAK, used the post as a platform to share his experiences participating in SPEAK's debate training program in Italy last spring and explaining how SPEAK students often debate highly technical health-related topics-- such as diet, cloning, and maintenance opioid therapy. Read more here: !

Help us welcome our new volunteers: This quarter, we were very sad to say “Farewell!” to several of our veteran volunteers. Both Ryan Tartre and Camara Hudson graduated from UVM in December and have since left the Burlington area; they are on to bigger and better adventures, and we are very proud of them! Ryan was one of our original six volunteers, and was instrumental in creating the learning-positive environment that we encourage in our CRCF program. Camara helped teach our first program at the Woodside Juvenile Correctional Facility, where she was able to utilize her experience with human development and her debating expertise to help make that program a resounding success. We wish both Ryan and Camara the best of luck as they move into the next stage of their lives and their new role in our organization: SPEAK Professional Liaisons!

We’re also lucky to be able to welcome a number of new volunteers to the SPEAK team this quarter. From UVM, we welcome Gillian Tilley, Erin Poll, George White, and Kiersten Brewton. From VLS, we’re fortunate to have Alexis Agredo, Charlotte Grose, Sara McClurg, and Pauline Waymel. Our new volunteers come to us with an exciting range of both debate and professional experiences that are sure to foster diverse perspectives in our classrooms. We’re very excited for all that they will bring to our programs over the next few years!

Where We’re Going:

Continuing our work at CRCF: SPEAK Instructors will be back at the Chittenden Regional Correctional Facility to work with our growing group of committed students. Our CRCF program provides us key opportunities to develop new volunteer leaders, as we have done over the past two years. Our long-term presence at the facility provides us with an added opportunity to use our established relationships with students to foster greater student leadership. Our instructors intend on giving some of our more senior students the opportunity to lead break out groups, facilitate discussions, and provide feedback to their peers in order to hone their own leadership skills.

Back to Woodside: Our first program working with the staff and students at the Woodside Juvenile Correctional Facility was a resounding success and we are fortunate to have been invited back to run a second program. We look forward to continuing to build our relationships with the educational staff at the center, who were instrumental to our previous success, while providing a strong foundation for the students to begin thinking critically about the world around them.

New Opportunities in the Windsor Area: Will Lowrey is currently engaging in outreach in the Windsor area to establish a new program that would be focused on serving a male population. Stay tuned for more details on a third potential program this Spring! This would be the first time that SPEAK has run three concurrent programs in Vermont, and it speaks to the strength and skills of our base of volunteers from both VLS and UVM.

SPEAK Inc. Helps Lead First Annual VT High School Mock Trial Competition: This spring, SPEAK Inc. is very fortunate to partner with the Honorable Geoffrey W. Crawford, the Vermont judicial community, Snelling Center For Government, Vermont Bar Association, VLS SPEAK Chapter, and Civics First CT, to organize the first annual Mock Trial Competition for high school students throughout the state. The competition will take place at Vermont Law School on April 8, 2017. Stay tuned for more information as we near the competition date!

As always, thank you for your continued support and dedication to SPEAK’s mission. We are proud to promote powerful voices and we look forward to partnering with you to continue this mission in the upcoming quarter! Please, never hesitate to contact Jessica Bullock ( with questions about our projects and programs, and feel free to share our website ( and handy “Donate” button with your friends and family!

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