Fifty years after its founding, Duke Ellington School for the Arts continues to nurture a passion for arts in the Districtís youth ó regardless of background, ability to pay, or previous training. In a rigorous, college preparatory setting, and led by educators of color, the predominantly African American students at DESA explore life-changing arts experiences: theater, music, dance, and technical design; painting, sculpture, and photography; spoken word, playwriting, and production. The Ellington Fund provides critical support for this work, including counseling, tutoring, and college guidance to prepare 565 talented young artists for higher education and careers. DESA sets high expectations and, with help from the Fund, students rise to meet them: last year, 98% graduated and 100% achieved college acceptance with over $9 million in scholarships. Your investment nurtures young talents and minds alike.

Headquarters: DC-Ward 2

Where They Operate: DC-Ward 1; DC-Ward 2; DC-Ward 3; DC-Ward 4; DC-Ward 5; DC-Ward 6; DC-Ward 7; DC-Ward 8; Our students come from every ward in the city with 48% living in the most underserved wards - 5, 7 and 8.

Age Groups Served: Youth (5-11); Pre-teen/teen (12-17)

Population(s) Served: Individuals who identify as LGBTQ; Low- to Moderate-Income Community Members; Women/Girls; Students

Schools They Work In: Duke Ellington School of the Arts

  • Number of students we serve annually:   570
  • Performances/exhibits/art classes, etc. offered annually:  
    Over 50 performances and exhibitions each school year
  • High school graduation rate (or GED completion rate) of our students:   97% (2021)
  • College acceptance rate of our students:   97% (2021)

Awards & Recognition

Designated as a 2016-2018 "Exemplary School" by Arts Schools Network (2016)

College Board Award for Excellence and Innovation in the Arts, Equity through Arts category (2015)


Budget (FY2023)

  • $3 million or higher
  • The current budget for The Ellington Fund is: $1 million to $3 million
  • $500k to $1 million
  • Less than $500k

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