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The Ellington Fund is an all-volunteer board of directors that raises over $1.5 million dollars for DESA each year. It also awards over $60,000 in scholarships to deserving DESA students. Here are scholarship funds and the 2023 awardees. As always, thank you to the generous and thoughtful families that set up these funds!

CAFRITZ AWARDS ($10,000 each) Peggy Cooper Cafritz, co-founder of DESA, began this scholarship endowment to support outstanding DESA students in their college pursuits.

Deshawn Brooks (Cinematic Arts & Media Production) – Morehouse College A rather quiet, respectful, and modest individual, Deshawn loves his school and is one of the kindest individuals anyone will ever meet. He cherishes this school community that has been a village for him and family like he never knew he needed. Sanaa Stringfield (Dance) - Spelman College Having served as the vice president of this year’s senior class and student leader of the Newspaper Club, Sanaa is more than qualified for this award. She is a woman of high moral character and known amongst her classmates as someone who simply “gets the job done” and means what she says. Sanaa is also a member of the National Honor Society. Destiny Marable (Dance) - American Musical and Dramatic Academy Destiny is one of the strongest performers in her department and one of the greatest humanitarians in her entire class. Her smile always shines through. Since the first day she stepped foot into the halls of Ellington Destiny has been the Ellington mission personified. She topples every hurdle that stands in her way. She is a young woman of integrity and is always committed to giving her best.

TODD ECKHARDT MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP ($4,000) Todd was the beloved bass player and song writer for the Washington, DC based SKA Band, the Pie Tasters for seven years. When he passed away in 2001, his parents wanted to ensure other young musicians got the chance to pursue their love of music.

Gilderson Vasquez-Lopez (Instrumental Music) - American University Gilderson, who possesses remarkable musicianship and is serious about his craft, is a star performer in the Instrumental Music Department. He is one of the highest earning seniors in scholarships in this year’s graduating class. LAUREN MICHAUD MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP ($4,000) Lauren was an artist and DESA alum (Visual Arts, Class of 1998) who passed away in 2019. Her parents, Joele and Fred Michaud, generously set us this endowment to support future Visual Arts graduates in their post-secondary education pursuits. McKaila Greenfield (Visual Arts) - Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) McKaila is driven and one exceptional human being. She is uber-talented and loves to help others.

JANET B. RUBIN AWARD ($3,500) One of the school's earliest patrons, Janet helped raise money for the Workshops for Careers in the Arts, which led to the school's creation in 1974. She went on to serve as president of the board of directors of the Ellington Fund and continued raising money until she passed away in 2003. Emmette Hill, III (Museum Studies) - Morehouse College Emmette is a responsible young man. Diligent with submitting assignments and following through. He doesn’t like to give up. And although he, like so many of us, deals with his own issues, he has such a huge heart for others. His smile will light up a dark room.

JAY BERMAN SCHOLARSHIP ($2,500) In 1999, Jay started this fund upon his retirement from the Recording Industry Association of America. The scholarship funds two music scholars each year.

Jalynn Pinkney (Vocal Music) - Claflin University Jalynn has recently completed her 2nd full year in the Voices in Motion Show Choir where she has been a standout soloist and one of the most dependable seniors in the Vocal Music Department. An incredibly hard worker and a consummate professional. Jalynn was also ranked #1 in this year’s series of Senior Honors Recital.

Sofia Smith (Instrumental Music) - Howard University Sophia Smith is a member of the National Honors Society, the Jazz Combo and the Radical Elite Marching Band. She is one of the strongest trumpet players in the department. Howard University will be extremely fortunate to have her as a Bison.


Giselle Clovis (Technical Design & Production) – Clark Atlanta University Not only has Giselle been a high-performing students in her academics and arts since 9th grade year, she’s also been inducted as a member of the National Honor Society. And last Fall, Giselle was featured in her very first runway show for New York Fashion Week. She designed and constructed two gowns for the RISE Survivor Fashion Show at the Museum of Modern Art. The 2022 show helped shine a light on sexual survivors’ rights, with a goal of celebrating all of those who advocate for survivors worldwide. Giselle's designs were worn by Emmy-nominated actress Emily Calandrelli.

Edwin Miranda Fuentes (Instrumental Music) – University of the District of Columbia Not only has Edwin been one of the more standout musicians of the Instrumental Department over these past two years, but this past Fall he was also acknowledged as the inaugural award recipient Grünbaum Fischer Foundation established in November 2022.


Akari Sinton (Visual Arts) - Gap year Akari is an excellent student and linguist! Brilliant mind, talented, capable. She’s very much a quiet storm. She’s also adaptable (important attribute to have as an artist).


Jonathan Hobbs (Vocal Music) - University of Cincinnati Izaiah Cole (Dance) - University of Maryland Eastern Shore Jamillya Henry (Technical Design & Production) - Stevenson University Bailey Allen (Museum Studies) - Temple University

Each of these recipients not only possess an incredibly commendable spirit of Ellington. But they too are a true representation of the Ellington CREED. They are leaders, passionate, collaborators, and more than generous in how they serve their school community and give back to others. SCHOOL SPIRIT AWARD ($250 each)

Mikiyass Mulugeta (Cinematic Arts & Media Production) – Fordham University Affectionately known by his entire Ellington family as “Mickey”, he has served as the Class of 2023’s president, and also a resounding voice for the Ellington student body aiding in the fight to keep Ellington alive in the ways envisioned by Co-Founders Mike Malone and Peggy Cooper Cafritz.

Megdelawit Doni (Museum Studies) - New York University A young lady of high moral character and zeal, “Meggy” as she is called by her teachers and peers is a true embodiment of Ellington. She comes to us from Ethiopia, absolutely loves being an Ellington student and is a star student in the Museum Studies Department.


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