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Music School of Delaware receives $10M donation to fund scholarships

Delaware Public Media

The Music School of Delaware receives the largest gift in its nearly 100-year history.

The school is getting $10 million from a Trust established by Mary Ellen Northrop.

John du Pont is the chair of the board of directors at the Music School and describes the history of the gift, “Back - I believe in 2013 - Mary Ellen Northrop was a lady who contacted our former development director and through various contacts over the phone, emails, etc. - had said that she’d like to do something for the school. Sadly, we never got to meet with her in-person.”

When Northrop died in June 2021 - she directed the money be placed in the Mary Ellen Northrop Endowed Fund for Music Education to provide scholarships to qualifying students in public, private or parochial schools - but not charter schools.

“These scholarships are for children from preschool to grade 12, eligible to be applied to tuition, instrument purchase or rental - for all instrument and voice lessons, except for guitar," said Larry Hamermesh - the treasurer of the Music School’s board of directors. "Her Trust specifically excludes guitar instruction.”

Hamermesh says the Music School will find a way to cover guitar instruction too.

The scholarships can provide a maximum of $5,000 per year in the first year. It also authorizes a second year to cover as much as 50% of costs up to $5,000.

The scholarships are limited to students with a family income of less than $150,000.

The trust should be able to fund 80-plus scholarships each year. The hope is that there is enough of a return on the $10 million to begin funding scholarships this fall.

Hamermesh says Music School staff will spend the next few months encouraging people to apply for the scholarships.

Delaware Public Media' s arts coverage is made possible, in part, by support from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency dedicated to nurturing and supporting the arts in Delaware, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.