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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.

Kelli Steele has over 30 years of experience covering news in Delaware, Baltimore, Winchester, Virginia, Phoenix, Arizona and San Diego, California.