Ellington Fund

Supporting Duke Ellington School of the Arts Since 1979

Washington, DC   |


Based in Washington, DC, The Ellington Fund (The Fund) is the charitable arm of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts (DESA). The mission of The Fund is to support programs at DESA that are not fully funded by the DC Public School System (DCPS). The Fund provides critical services as it seeks to bridge the gap between DCPS budget allocations and the actual cost of DESA's dual arts/academic curriculum. Together with the school, The Fund supports over 560 high school students who come from all Wards of the District, with many not being able to otherwise afford the costs of an arts education. Ellington has a 100% graduation rate and 91% college acceptance rate, which is remarkable, as many of our students enter 9th grade at or below reading and math proficiency levels.

Ruling year info


Principal and Head of School

Ms. Sandi Logan

Main address

3500 R Street NW

Washington, DC 20007 USA

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NTEE code info

Arts Education/Schools (A25)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Established in 1978, The Ellington Fund’s mission is to sponsor, maintain and financially support the various programs and activities including curriculum programs, student support functions, art and academic disciplines and courses, productions, exhibits, concerts, workshops and educational seminars, and to provide scholarship assistance to graduates of the Duke Ellington School in pursuit of college or professional careers. We aim to empower students and faculty, expand the breadth and depth of programming, and sustain the long-term social impact and fiscal health of programs at Duke Ellington School of the Arts (DESA). Given that our student population draws significantly from the most underserved Wards of the District, the impact that Ellington can have on their future is dramatic and ensuring equitable access to a life-changing arts education is one of DESA’s chief goals.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

The Ellington Fund

The Ellington Fund underwrites the following programs at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts: Shepherding Program (a unique counseling program); technology acquisition, implementation, training and maintenance; Museum Studies; scholarships; per student financial allocations to each art department; financial allocations to the School's administration.

Population(s) Served
Ethnic and racial groups

Where we work

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

There have been dozens of large-scale studies showing that an integrated curriculum of the sciences, humanities, and arts helps students excel in all areas of K-12 learning. The President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities reports that youth who participate in the arts are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement and have higher GPAs and SAT scores. Students are also more likely to be engaged and cooperative with teachers and peers, experience greater self-confidence, and better express their ideas. The National Endowment for the Arts reports that low-income students who have access to the arts also tend to have better academic results than their peers. Low-income students who participate in arts education maintain better attendance records, stay more engaged in school, and are more likely to volunteer in their community than non-arts counterparts.

The Ellington Fund seeks to bridge the gap between DC Public Schools’ (DCPS) annual budget allocation and the true operating cost of Duke Ellington School of the Arts’ (DESA) dual-curriculum program - a gap which, unfortunately, is ever widening. As the first public high school dedicated to the visual, performing, and media arts in Washington, DC, DESA is dedicated to ensuring that the District’s most talented young people gain this exposure regardless of their personal circumstances. Therefore, our primary focus and greatest achievement remains the success of our students. We are proud of our designation as a four-star school, as we are the only one without an academic entrance exam. We stand tall as a model of what it means to close the achievement gap, as demonstrated by student test scores remaining high when segmented by ethnicity. Further, 95% of our graduating seniors are accepted into college – with 103 of the 2018 graduating seniors receiving over $9.5 million in scholarships to study at top-tier colleges and conservatories.

Duke Ellington School of the Arts (DESA) is a DC public school whose mission is to nurture and inspire passion for arts and learning in talented students who might not otherwise have the means to develop their artistic skills. Through the school’s eight artistic departments—Dance, Instrumental Music, Visual Art, Literary Media and Communications, Museum Studies, Technical Design and Production, Theatre, and Vocal Music—DESA is able to offer opportunities for our students to achieve artistic and academic success, as well as prepare them for post-secondary education and beyond.

We ensure that our students are prepared for post-secondary education and careers by offering a challenging college preparatory academic program—alongside our pre-professional intensive arts training—and offer guidance, mentoring, and support through our four-year matriculation program. Additionally, our students are provided with the resources and opportunities to participate in the DC arts community by: learning through in-class instruction from DESA’s exemplary faculty and guest artists, comprised of some of the area’s most prominent musicians and artists; receiving internships and participating in field trips to and with leading arts organizations in the area; and, by showcasing their own work at DESA and at off-site locations through exhibitions, performances, and more for peers and the general public. We work to train diverse artists of tomorrow who represent the rich cultural tapestry of DC to propel the stories, history, and culture of their communities through art.

In addition, we serve the entire District and wider community as a premier cultural institution. Since its founding in 1974, DESA has been not only a notable member of our own DC arts community, but also a catalyst in the conservation, celebration, and cultivation of artistic and cultural production nationwide.

Duke Ellington School of the Arts’ (DESA) dual-focused curriculum provides a thorough and comprehensive training program for students who wish to pursue professional-level careers in the arts. By cultivating critical thinking, self-discovery, and overall technical development, our arts departments promote skills and traits critical to students’ future academic and career success. The DESA academic program allows students to truly excel in creative problem solving, self-discipline, focus, collaboration, and productively receiving and responding to constructive feedback. 

Students who wish to enroll at Duke Ellington School of the Arts participate in a rigorous audition process and choose to concentrate their studies in one of eight pre-professional training programs during their four-year secondary education. DESA also offers summer intensives classes in many of our eight arts disciplines. The length of each discipline's program varies based upon demand and the funds available for support. With the intention of early exposure to and exploration through the arts, each discipline offers on average a four-week track for students beginning as early as age 5, up through age 14. Throughout the long-standing legacy of arts training programs that Duke Ellington School of the Arts has pioneered, our experience has shown that the earlier students begin their arts training, the more successful they will be as high school students here and beyond.

In the 2017-18 school year, DESA had 545 enrolled students (of whom approximately 32% male and 68% female) representing a racially and socio-economically diverse student body. 57% of DESA students resided in the most underserved parts of the city: Wards 5, 7 and 8. The student population was 72% African American, 14% White, 9% Latinx, 3% Native American and/or Other, and 2% Asian American. As a result of the geographic and racial diversity of DESA’s student population, students interfaced with peers of analogous and converse backgrounds in addition to engaging diverse audiences. Our projected enrollment figures for future incoming classes follow these trends. By investing in the education and hands-on training of future artists of color, we are working to create a more representative and inclusive artistic future.

Despite the consistently strong academic and artistic impact that DESA has on it’s students, The Ellington Fund’s need to raise funds to ensure the highest quality arts education has only grown in recent years with an increasing funding gap compared with the DCPS’ financial allocation. We at DESA see the truth of the arts education model in the success of the students we serve. While DCPS had a 2018 graduation rate of 68%, DESA distinctly had a graduation rate of 100% for 2018 and 2019. And, student test scores remain high even when segmented by ethnicity or socioeconomic background.

One important development for DESA was the renovation of our R Street campus, which added immeasurable value to the school community. This modernized facility provides students, faculty, staff, and community stakeholders with world-class learning resources and has transformed our aging historic national landmark into a premier facility that not only matches DESA’s national reputation but stands as an iconic representation of the city’s dedication to providing access to rigorous academic arts instruction. With our new facility, DESA is expanding its services as a community resource by engaging residents from across the District with performances, exhibitions, and events. This year we launched @35th&R, an ongoing series of free or low-cost events designed to engage the community in conversation around the influence of arts on the contemporary landscape.


Ellington Fund

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


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Ellington Fund

Board of directors
as of 12/12/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Ari Fitzgerald

Hogan Lovells

Annie Whatley

University of the District of Columbia

Sherri N. Blount

Edward L. Cohen

Lerner Enterprises

Priscilla K. Clarke

Brenda Morris, Esq.

Michelle Persaud

Julia Massimino, Esq.

Stacie Lee Banks

Lee's Flower & Card Shop

Michelle D. Bernard

Kathleen Buhle Biden


Francesca V. Craig

British Embassy

Matthew F. Gray

Brown Advisory

Marcus R. Johnson

FLO Brands

Stephanie Phillipps, Esq.

Arnold & Porter

Steve Rabinowitz

Blue Light Strategies

Amy Kauffman

Vice President, The Ellington Fund

Eliot Battle, M.D.

Cultura Dermatology & Plastic Surgery Center

Priscilla Clarke

Clarke and Associates, LLC

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 12/12/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Black/African American
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation


No data