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The Kennedy Center
DC Partnership Schools Initiative with DCPS

DC Partnership Schools Initiative

Students studding art

Public schools in Washington, D.C. have limited financial resources to support arts education for students, and collectively, 80% of Washington, D.C. public schools are Title I reflecting enrollment of impoverished children with little or no access to the arts outside of school. The Kennedy Center has committed to supporting arts education in Washington, D.C. public schools through its DC Partnership Schools Initiative. Select public and charter elementary, middle, and high schools across all 8 wards of the city have been invited to participate in the 2019-2020 Partnership. Partnership schools are led through a strategic planning process to develop a customized arts education program inclusive of Kennedy Center resources and programs that are aligned to the curriculum, including artists in schools, professional learning for teachers, and attendance at Kennedy Center performances and events. Participation in the program is by invitation.

Partnership schools participate in:

Artists in Schools

Through the artists in schools area, teachers collaborate with a local Kennedy Center trained artist for in-depth, multiple session arts integrated residency, and artists presented at the Kennedy Center are engaged to lead workshops, master classes and demonstrations in partnership schools each year.

In-Depth Residency Program

In-Depth Residency of a teach with students

Artists in Schools

Residency programs are sequential classroom sessions led by teaching artists integrating an art form with other curriculum, or focusing on student learning in the art form. There are two types of residency programs, the student centered residency program and the professional development residency.

In the student centered residency program, the focus is on increasing student understanding in and through the arts, and modeling effective arts integration for teachers.

In the professional development residency, the focus is on increasing the capacity of the teacher to integrate the arts into their own curriculum.

Artists who lead residency programs participate in a rigorous application and review process, including participation in Kennedy Center professional development specialized for teaching artists.

For more information on Teaching Artists working with DC Partnership Schools, please view the Teaching Artists Biographies.

In School Performing Artist Program

Artists in Schools

Students from partnership schools have access to numerous in school programs during the school year. This includes the National Symphony Orchestra's In-School ensemble sessions, Washington National Opera's Young Artist visits, and master classes, workshops and demonstrations by artists presented at the Kennedy Center. Programs represent all disciplines including dance, theater and music from artists presented at the Kennedy Center.

Performance Attendance Opportunities

Student Groups

Children singing

Elementary and secondary schools receive tickets and transportation to attend daytime performances at the Kennedy Center.


Each participating school may select evening and weekend performances to encourage students and their family members to attend evening or weekend performances at the Kennedy Center.

Professional Development for Teachers and Administrators


Teachers from participating schools attend Kennedy Center Professional Development Workshops for Teachers held at their school site or at the Kennedy Center. For a list of professional development workshops available to teachers in the greater Washington metro area, please visit


Participating school principals attend the Kennedy Center Principals' Arts Education Forum meetings and events to receive current information about arts advocacy, research in arts education, arts integration, and ways to strengthen school arts programs.

Duke Ellington School Partnership

Duke Ellington students in a ballet class

The Duke Ellington School of the Arts is a nationally recognized high school in the District of Columbia that offers college preparatory academic instruction and pre-professional training in the performing, visual and fine arts. Major areas of study at the school include Dance, Instrumental Music, Literary Media, Museum Studies Technical Design and Production, Theater, Visual Arts and Vocal Music.

The school is managed and operated by The Kennedy Center, George Washington University and the Ellington Fund under a contract with District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) titled the Duke Ellington School of the Arts Project. As a member of the partnership, Kennedy Center provides typically 60 or more events during the year to support the curricula through master classes/clinics, lecture/demonstrations, performances at the Kennedy Center, and professional learning for educators.

Additionally, the Kennedy Center is the site for the Duke Ellington School's annual Legends concert series, which allows Ellington students to study with and present a concert with an established and proven artist. Legends to date included Dave Chappelle, Denyce Graves, Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind and Fire, and Smokey Robinson, and Sting.

To learn more about the Duke Ellington School, please visit the Duke Ellington School of the Arts website.

About the DC Arts and Humanities Collaborative

The DC Arts and Humanities Education Collaborative, Inc., is a member institution of 70 arts and cultural institutions dedicated to providing arts education resources to DC public and charter schools. The mission of the Collaborative is "to strengthen and promote the arts and humanities as basic and integral to a high-quality education for all students." The Arts for Every Student initiative of the Collaborative provides complimentary tickets and transportation to children enrolled in DC public and public charter schools to attend performances and exhibits. The Kennedy Center is a founding and lead member of the Collaborative, and sponsors the 5th Grade Initiative, which provides access for every fifth-grader in DC public and charter schools the opportunity to attend a performance at the Kennedy Center through the Collaborative. In addition, through the Collaborative, 25 educators are able to attend a professional learning workshop at the Kennedy Center each year. To access the 5th Grade Initiative and complimentary teacher professional learning workshops, please contact the Tracey Alperstein, Program Manager at the DC Arts and Humanities Education Collaborative at 202.879.9327 or email, or visit
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"The residency artist is a great motivator and really encourages the students to use their imagination to design and create."
- Teacher

"I have learned that you have to be very respectful and you have to work together to make a great show (Which we did!)"
- Student

"Thank you for allowing [my child] to participate. This experience aided in [his] rehabilitation mentally and physically. It gave him more confidence and self-esteem."
- Parent