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Our Mission

Recognizing that the arts have a unique power to engage and motivate children, the mission of Kids Excel El Paso (KEEP) is to help children develop discipline, a standard of excellence, and self-confidence that will positively impact their education and all aspects of their lives - one dance step at a time.



Helps children learn that they can reach their full potential with hard work and commitment.


Encourages important peer respect and teambuilding skills through constant reinforcement of positive social behaviors.


Provides an opportunity for each child to express themself creatively and “shine” in the glow of the Kids Excel spotlight.


What We Do

Our mission as an organization and the entirety of our programming is devoted to positively impacting the development of young students through an exciting and unique arts education model. The children at the schools we serve average 81% Minority, 71% Economically Disadvantaged, 67% At-Risk, and 69% Limited English Proficient. As a consequence of their socio-economic demographics, many of our students are marginalized in terms of societal expectations, extra-curricular opportunities, and support, all of which can lead to diminished self-esteem and scholastic underachievement. Kids Excel programming aims to enhance the educational experience of these children by providing students with access to high-quality arts instruction.

Over the 2023-2024 school year, we will conduct an average of 50 classes per week, meeting during the school day as part of the curriculum. A Teaching Artist and Musician who has been extensively trained in the NDI methodology teaches each class. Students participating in KEEP’s programming experience a fast-paced, challenging, inclusive, and fun approach to learning dance technique and the meaning of excellence.

KEEP’s Arts Education Outreach Program is conducted on the campus of each of its 21 partner schools. Because in-school classes are held for the entire fourth-grade level as part of the school day, children who might not have the resources to participate in extra-curricular arts activities have the opportunity to expand their horizons and experience quality dance and music education.


Please make your donation online by clicking the button or by mailing your donation to:

Kids Excel El Paso  |  P.O. Box 920144  |  El Paso, Texas 79902

Our Story

Kids Excel was founded in 2004 by native El Pasoan and long-time friend of Jacques d’Amboise, Stephen L. Feinberg. In 1976, Mr. d’Amboise, a former principal dancer for the New York City Ballet, founded the National Dance Institute in Harlem, New York. The project was an amazing success and slowly spread to communities across the country and, eventually, around the world.
Realizing that government funding for arts in public schools was continually decreasing, Mr. Feinberg was determined to address the “arts opportunity gap” and provide high-quality arts education for at-risk children in his hometown of El Paso. Feinberg provided the seed money for the El Paso Dance Institute (as it was initially called) to provide one year of programming to three El Paso schools. The program quickly won support from arts professionals and leaders in the business community and a group soon convened to prepare the institute’s non-profit status.

Over the first year, the program was overseen by Gemtria St. Clair who was then serving as Managing Director of the National Dance Institute in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Migrating periodically to El Paso, Gemtria helped bring together a board of directors and train and hire teaching artists and musicians. The following year, she and her husband, Rod Linguri, who would serve as Music Director for KEEP, moved to El Paso to run the program full-time. Gemtria and Rod managed Kids Excel until 2013, enjoying amazing success and unprecedented program growth. When they left El Paso in 2013, Kids Excel was serving nearly 3,000 children in 30 schools.


Since that time, Kids Excel has endured, touching the lives of more than 38,000 children in El Paso. Today, we maintain a waiting list of schools in our partner districts and constantly field inquiries from charter schools and other independent educational institutions. It is our hope and vision to one day be able to serve every child in El Paso County.


Quality Arts Education

Over the last 20 years, KEEP has grown to meet the demand for its programming and will serve more than 1,600 children in 21 El Paso schools via in-school instruction over the course of the 2023-2024 school year.  Since inception, we have served 38,000 children, over 1,500 classroom teachers, and nearly 400,000 audience members.

Using the award-winning National Dance Institute (NDI) teaching techniques created nearly 50 years ago by former New York City Ballet principal dancer and MacArthur Fellow, Jacques d’Amboise, our energetic and dynamic curriculum teaches children the fundamental values of determination, discipline, and excellence. Each week, in gymnasiums and cafeterias throughout El Paso, thousands of lives are transformed through the magic of music and dance.

All Kids Excel in-school programs are free to children and their families.


KEEP's pedagogy encourages children to work hard in everything they do and experience the benefits of their hard work in return. Students learn discipline that allows them to focus which carries into their everyday lives.


Students learn that mistakes are a normal part of the learning process. KEEP encourages success through repetitive instruction and individual excellence.


Each student learns that their personal best differs from their classmates. Students learn to support each other and create a team, to work hard while having fun, and to have confidence to try new things.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Accessibility


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