This post announces my intent to establish a National Academic Competition Association as a national non-profit organization with the express purpose of promoting the growth and development of academic quiz teams across the United States. This is in the very early stages of development and will take a while to come to full fruition. That having been said, here's where I'm thinking of going with this:
1. Providing an Easy Way for Teams to Fundraise
It is obvious that one of the reasons either schools don't have a quiz bowl team, or that they don't have enough financial backing to compete in as many tournaments as they would like. Many teams also don't know how to begin fundraising systematically, or are daunted by the prospect of it. One way in which this can be made much easier would be for NACA to provide an online platform for people to process tax deductible contributions that can go to support teams. See www.donorschoose.org
and imagine that your quiz bowl coach goes online and posts about your team's needs. Now parents, family members, and alumni (wait, you haven't set up an alumni association for your school's team yet and asked alumni for contributions?) local businesses (you can raise thousands this way), teachers, and random strangers can help your team get funds to go to nationals, get a new buzzer system, or just contribute to the team's general fund. And they get the all important tax break for it. I don't mean to get morbid, but this could even process estate donations.
2. Setting Up Free Tournaments For Schools Who Haven't Played
In addition to NACA processing donations for teams, people could donate to NACA itself. These contributions could go, for example, to set up free tournaments for schools that have never played any tournament before. They could be really small in scale; maybe just 3 schools with 2 teams each. But that could help hook them in. NACA might even be able to arrange some prize money that could go to the purchase of a buzzer system for the winning team.
3. Setting Up a Tournament or League in Disadvantaged Areas
At some point in the next ten years, I am planning on setting up a non-profit national competition with the purpose of bringing quiz bowl into disadvantaged schools around the USA as a way to help promote academic achievement. If anyone wants to help me with this eventually, let me know. In the meantime, NACA could help set up leagues or tournaments in urban areas, rural areas, and Indian Reservations.
4. Helping to Lobby Policy Makers
Quiz Bowl meets K Street - minus the venality! Seriously, though, I am in the process of setting up a non-profit New Mexico Senators' Quiz Bowl. Once this gets off the ground, I will look to approach other senators about the idea of doing similar leagues in other states. Moreover, though, having an official national organization can help with giving legitimacy to talking to politicians at all levels about support for quiz bowl.
5. Having a National Email Newsletter
I am interested in putting together a national newsletter and webcast about the state of quiz bowl. This can help keep everyone in touch about important developments, debates, etc., including people who don't as often peruse the forums.
6. Helping to Organize States That Aren't Organized Yet
I'm doing this for New Mexico, and will soon turn my attention to getting New Jersey organized - meaning setting up state organizations that hold tournaments, conventions, awards dinners, hold tryouts for NASAT, publish state newsletters, and especially reach out to new schools. Leaving aside NM and NJ, though, there are lots of other states where quiz bowl ranges from non-existent to alive and kicking, but not organized that could benefit from this. In certain places, it may make sense to organize on a regional level; that would be fine too.
7. Providing a Way to Help Formalize the National Academic Competition Awards
See my other post from this evening. The prize money would still be sponsored technically by NHBB, but NACA could be the organization that effectively oversees this.
What I DON'T want NACA to become is a closed club solely for schools that currently limit their participation to "good quizbowl" tournaments. Numerous conversations with people around the country have made it abundantly clear to me that many schools are really put off by the notion that if they don't do "good quizbowl" they are frauds/charlatans/corrupting the youth of America.
At the same time, I think that many, if not most, schools are certainly open to the principles that "good quizbowl" tournaments run under, even if they don't currently actively participate in such tournaments. If NACA limited itself to "good quizbowl" schools, it wouldn't have anywhere near the outreach potential that it could. Tournaments that NACA would help organize would certainly incorporate pyramidal writing, fair questions, etc. but I really would love to see NACA bridge the gap that separates the teams that actively seek out pyramidal tournaments from those that don't.
Please note that NACA is thus not some sort of Trojan horse for bad quizbowl practices. In fact, by being sensitive to matters of tone and that dreaded word "civility" it would ultimately bring in far more teams into the pyramidal style of play, and other sensible practices that have been developing over the last fifteen years and continue to do so. The bottom line is that while quizbowl continues to grow each year, the number of schools that compete in pyramidal tournaments on a regular basis is a very small fraction of all American high schools. Reaching out to new schools and being friendly and welcoming to schools that have some form of quiz bowl team but don't regularly do pyramidal events is a much better way to ultimately benefit everyone as opposed to disparaging such schools.
Here's the best part about NACA: After the time I was on Jeopardy I put aside a significant amount of my winnings into a charitable giving account at Fidelity. That meant that I got the initial tax write-off, but didn't immediately have to specify where the money was spent. I am not, however, ever able to withdraw that money for my own use - it must go to a 501c3. Providing that it does not conflict with any conflict-of-interest laws (and the person with whom I spoke at Fidelity indicated it wouldn't), I am willing to contribute $30,000 to funding NACA's start-up and logistical expenses. That would mean that any money donated to NACA would go 100% towards supporting quiz bowl, and not a dime to administrative costs. With some of the extra money (since it shouldn't cost $30,000 to fund NACA's start up and administrative expenses, at least not for some years) I would want it to go towards supporting the first NACA free tournaments for new schools or schools in disadvantaged areas. I would stipulate in any case that no money I would ever contribute to NACA could be used towards NHBB expenses or tournament fees. Moreover, if for whatever reason I cannot donate this money to NACA, I will donate it to whatever other quiz bowl 501c3s exist at a state level to support quiz bowl wherever possible, and would then hope that others can come through at least with the start up expenses.
Finally, in terms of getting this off the ground logistically speaking, I am working with a close friend of mine on this who is a corporate attorney for one of the top legal firms in New York and Washington. He has agreed to take on NACA as a pro bono case, and will help with all the legal filings. That said, there may still be fees involved before we are able to launch, and I can make no guarantees as to the timeline when NACA will be operational, other than that I hope it is before the end of this academic year. It takes a while to get IRS approval, though, as well as the approval to accept donations from each state.
Please post in this thread with your ideas about NACA - it's not like I don't have a million other irons in the fire, but an organization like this is sorely needed, and I am willing to do what it takes to get this off the ground. This is going to take a while to happen, but it will get done, and in the meantime, I'm eager to hear everyone's thoughts.