About Duke Ellington School of the Arts Project (DESAP)
In 1999, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, The George Washington University, and The Ellington Fund, formalized their long-time collaboration into the Duke Ellington School of the Arts Project (DESAP), a non-profit organization. Shortly thereafter, in recognition of the leading role in arts education that Duke Ellington School of the Arts has traditionally played and the importance of a fully integrated academic and arts curriculum, DC Public Schools entered into an agreement with DESAP to manage and operate the school in a unique partnership with DCPS.
DESAP manages, operates, and oversees The Duke Ellington School for the Arts, develops and implements creative and innovative academic and artistic programs of education, and works to improve and enhance the educational experience of public school students in the District of Columbia and enrich the communities served by the District of Columbia public schools.
The goal of DESAP is to provide high school students with an educational experience that includes college preparatory academics, pre-professional artistic training, and access to the cultural and intellectual resources of the District of Columbia.
The DESAP Board of Directors consists of representatives from each of the three partners, the school, and the Ellington Community (i.e., current parents or alumni). Ex officio members include the DCPS Superintendent, the SHADE President, and Ellington’s Principal.
DESAP Board of Directors
Ellingtn Fund Representative
Penny Hollis, CAMP Chair
George Washington University
Renee McPhatter, Esq.
George Washington UniversityRepresentative
George Washington University
Ellington Fund Representative
Edrick D. Rhodes
Kennedy Center Representative
DESAP Partner Organizations
DCPS is largely responsible for providing 70-80% of the operating budget for Duke Ellington School of the Arts. Our academic curriculum follows the DCPS standards of learning and many of our staff are committed veterans of the DCPS system. Upon graduation, Ellington students receive a standard DCPS diploma and an arts certificate. With this partnership, we benefit financially and through the provision of both professional development and current teaching methods and resources.
The Kennedy Center is an influential partner for Ellington, providing much needed resources in performance space, opportunities for performance, production assistance and annually funding a series of master classes, professional development lectures, and other educational opportunities to enhance the teaching and curriculum offered at Duke Ellington. Ellington students regularly attend and are often sought after to perform at the Kennedy Center, with multiple appearances at Millennium Stage, the Performance Series of Legends, and various other shows. Faculty have also produced shows at the Kennedy Center and attended various clinics and workshops. Many renowned artists that perform at the Kennedy Center often share their talent by working with Ellington students in clinics/master classes/workshops (funded by the Education department at the Kennedy Center). As part of the partnership, three Kennedy Center representatives serve on the DESAP board.
GWU provides collaborations with different departments, sponsors Ellington events, and provides counsel on governance. The programmatic resources and opportunities provided for our students supports our mission and ensures the success of our students. Like the Kennedy Center, three GWU representatives serve on the DESAP board.