The Excellence of Ellington: 
An Evening With Dave Chappelle

Ellington Community Members, Donors and Sponsors and Friends are invited to attend!

On June 20, DESA will name the  performance arts theatre at Ellington after one of its most noted alumni — comedian and actor Dave Chappelle.  The event will include an unveiling, theater dedication, and a production filled with surprises for Dave and the audience.   The naming comes in appreciation for his ongoing commitment and service to the school and advocacy for the arts.  Ellington's co-founder Peggy Cooper Cafritz was a fierce believer in the transformative power of the arts and it was her hope that Chappelle would use his platform to bring more resources and attention to the school.


This event kicks off Ellington’s Million Dollar Challenge. Over the next 12 months, Ellington and Dave Chappelle challenge YOU to help us raise $2 million to help cover the pre-professional arts training not funded by the School District’s budget.
  • 99% of students graduate in four years (versus DC average of 71%)
  • Nationally-rated top 15% of High Schools by US News and World Report
  • 98% of graduates enroll in an institution of higher learning (versus DC average of 59%)
  • Over 87% of Ellington students are Black, Brown, or Asian


The Excellence of Ellington:
An Evening with Dave Chappelle 


Monday, June 20, 2022
7:00 - 9:00 pm

Duke Ellington School of the Arts
3500 R Street NW
Washington, DC 20007

(Additional details with ticket confirmation)


cLASS OF 1991
Dave Chappelle is an American comedian, screenwriter, television and film producer, actor and most importantly, a graduate of Duke Ellington School of the Arts. Recognized as one of the greatest comedians of all time, Chappelle was awarded the prestigious Mark Twain Prize for American Humor from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2019. Chappelle’s work in stand-up comedy, writing, producing, and acting has earned him more than 30 nominations and awards in television and film for projects that include his groundbreaking sketch comedy television series, Chappelle’s Show, guest appearances on Saturday Night Live, and his 4x Emmy Award-winning comedy specials. In audio content, Chappelle has won the Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album three years in a row, 2018 through 2020. In 2017, Netflix cited Dave Chappelle: Collection 1 as the most-viewed comedy special ever on their network.

Duke Ellington School of the Arts

Duke Ellington School of the Arts (DESA) was established in 1974 by two African-American artists: philanthropist and art collector Peggy Cooper Cafritz and dancer and choreographer Mike Malone. DESA's vision then and now is to provide equitable access to a college preparatory life-changing arts education.


The Theatre at Duke Ellington School of the Arts sits at the center of an award-winning design and modernization project which, in 2017, transformed the aging 1890’s National Landmark into the District’s showpiece for academic, visual and performing arts education. 

With modern elements woven throughout the historic fabric, DESA is a place for learning unlike any other. The educational environment revolves around a four-story sky-lit atrium, with an iconic 800-seat theatre suspended in the middle, serving as the metaphoric heartbeat of the famed institution.

Donor Opportunities

Ellington is the sole public high school to provide a dual arts-academic education in Washington, DC. Yet, most people don’t know that the school's transformative pre-professional arts and academic curriculum is only partially funded by the District. This funding gap creates significant disparities in teacher compensation and resources for its talented students. Private financial support of Ellington and its programming is critical to the preservation and continued success of the school.

Individual Donors

Whether you’re a Game Changer, Influencer, Supporter, or Friend, there are numerous ways to support Ellington and exciting benefits to giving! 

Individual donor packages range from $5000-$25,000 and the various donor benefits include:
  • Seat Naming opportunity in Chappelle Theatre
  • Priority Ad Placement in Annual Ellington Fund benefit souvenir program
  • Tickets to VIP reception
  • Reserved tickets to Chappelle Theatre Dedication Ceremony
  • Logo and name listed on event microsite and the school’s website
  • Name listed in Annual Ellington Fund benefit souvenir program
I'll Donate

Sponsors: Corporations & Foundations

The Diamond and metal-level sponsorships ranging from $100,000-$500,000 are a great way for Corporations and Foundations to create a sustainable impact on the next generation of artists and global citizens.

Diamond Presenting; Platinum Title; Gold, Silver, and Bronze level sponsorships are payable over five years and benefits can be customized to include promotional opportunities that align with your business values: 
  • Premium level placement on donor wall located outside of Chappelle Theatre
  • Naming Rights to the following available options: Greenroom, Stage Wings, Theatre Seats, Rehearsal Space and Dressing Rooms
  • Broadcast distribution opportunities
  • Host annual brand-specific student outreach & training initiative
  • Onsite branded activation e.g. cafe, photo booth, media screens, etc.
  • Remarks from stage at Annual Ellington Fund Benefit
  • Full-page ad in benefit souvenir program
  • Presenting Sponsor will be referenced in press and promotional materials
Donations to Ellington Fund are tax-deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.  Contact our Development Officer, Jackie Love-Baker at: for more details.
I'll Sponsor

Donors and Sponsors
Thank You for Your Generous Support!

Five-Year Commitment
$250,000+ Gold Sponsors:
Sacks Family Foundation 

$100,000+ Bronze Sponsors:
Dave Chappelle
Ari Fitzgerald & Maria Carmona
One-Time Commitment
$25,000+ Game Changers:
DC Housing Finance Agency
Kimsey Foundation
Miner Anderson Family Foundation

$15,000 Influencers:
T-Mobile USA, Inc.
Dr. Eliot and Sally Battle

$10,000 Supporters:
Annette M. & Theodore N. Lerner Family Foundation, Inc.
The George Washington University
Lee’s Flower Shop
The Gersh Agency
Abeer and Yousef Al Otaiba
Brenda Morris & Terek Green

$5,000 Friends:
DC Office of Cable Television, Film, Music & Entertainment
DC Lottery
Industrial Bank
Robert Daly, Jr. & Krishna Daly
Meg & Christian Clerc
Robert D. Horvath, Jr.
Melanie Folstad
Jenkins Brothers
Ellen & Paul McCabe
Melissa Wyers
Mary & Jeff Zients

Excellence of Ellington Alumni

Ellington is a hub for excellence and innovation. Ellington alumni have achieved exceptional success in the arts and art adjacent fields across the country and many have gone on to win Grammy, Tony, and Emmy awards.
  • Micaela Angela Davis, writer on African-American style, race, gender and hip-hop culture
  • Quique Aviles, DC poet, performer, and community activist
  • Christylez Bacon, a progressive hip-hop artist
  • Amy Bormet, Washington Women in Jazz Festival Founder
  • Maya Cunningham, Fulbright scholar, ethnomusicologist, Africanist/African Americanist scholar, a cultural activist, and Black music practitioner
  • Donnell Floyd, founding member of Go-Go band Rare Essence 
  • Denyce Graves, international opera mezzo soprano
  • Cory Hawkins,  Tony-nominated actor,  In The Heights and Straight Outta Compton
  • Sandra Jackson-DuMont, Director of Education at MOMA
  • Tracie Jade Jenkins, Executive Director at The Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation
  • Tracy Inman, dancer with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
  • Jamie Lawson, actress, Batman and Farewell Amor
  • Ari Lennox, Grammy-nominated musician and composer
  • Lamann Rucker, actor, Why Did I Get Married? and Greenleaf
  • Adam Serwer, Best-Selling Author and CNN Commentator
  • Meshell Ndegeocello, Grammy-award winner singer-songwriter, rapper, and bassist
  • Clifton Powell, actor and comedian, Ray and Next Friday
  • Sylver Logan Sharpe, a soul, jazz, gospel & blues singer
  • Stan Squirewell, visual artist 
  • Maimouna Youssef, Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter
  • YahZara, Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter
  • Ben Williams, Grammy-winning bassist
  • Hank Willis Thomas, Conceptual artist 
  • Samira Wiley, Emmy-nominated actress, Orange is the New Black and Handmaid’s Tale

Ellington Fund Board Members

This event is hosted by the Ellington Fund, the charitable arm of DESA, and all proceeds will go to support DESA's college-preparatory and transformative arts education.

Ari Q. Fitzgerald, Esq., Pres.
Brenda Morris, Esq., Vice Pres.
Amy Kauffman, Vice Pres.
Priscilla Clarke, Secretary 

Committee Chairs: 
Kathleen Buhle | Matthew Gray, MBA Annie Whatley | Jeanette S. McCune, Pres. of DESAP 

At-Large Members:  
Stacie Lee Banks  
Charles Barber, Esq. 
Eliot Battle, MD 
Michelle D. Bernard, Esq. 
Sherri N. Blount, Esq.
Zachary Cooper Cafritz | Edward L. Cohen  
Francesca V. Craig | Marcus R. Johnson
Julia Massimino | Robin Nunn, Esq.
Michelle A. Persaud, Esq. | Stephanie Phillipps, Esq. 
Steve Rabinowitz | Sylvia Davis White

Ex-Officio Members: 
Sandi M. Logan, Head of School and Principal
Amber Golden, SHADE President


To accept the Million Dollar Challenge or purchase tickets to the event contact our Development Officer, Jackie Love-Baker at: