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About Kids Excel

  /  About Kids Excel
About Us Teaching Excellence Through The Arts

Our Mission

Recognizing that the arts have a unique power to engage and inspire children, the mission of Kids Excel El Paso (KEEP) is to use its distinct dance programs 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 herself creatively and “shine” in the glow of the Kids Excel spotlight


Partner Schools in 2022-2023


Students Participating in 2022-2023

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 course of the 2022-2023 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 have been extensively trained in the NDI methodology teach 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.

KEEP Program Impact

Providing Quality Arts Education

Over the last 18 years, KEEP has grown to meet the demand for its programming and will serve more than 1,800 children in 21 El Paso schools via in-school instruction over the course of the 2022-2023 school year.  Since inception, we have served 33,000 children, 1,250 classroom teachers, and more than 375,000 audience

Using the award-winning National Dance Institute (NDI) teaching techniques created 45 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.

Work Hard

KEEP's pedogogy 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.

Never Give Up

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

Personal Best

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.

2004 Kids Excel

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 school 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 course of 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 30,000 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.


As a proud Associate of National Dance Institute (ANDI), Kids Excel is part of a global movement, working each day to make arts education a reality for all children.

KEEP Meeting the Demand

Program Expansion

For the 2022-2023 school year, KEEP has maintained its curriculum in 21 schools, and provided after-school programming on 3 campuses in EPISD, thereby serving a total of 21 schools, 1,500 students, 96 classroom teachers, and approximate 28,000 audience members.

If you are interested in becoming a Kids Excel partner school, the first thing you must do is secure a spot on the waiting list in your district. To be added to the list, please ask the Principal or other school administrator/representative to contact the main office of your district. For specific contact information please visit:




You can also contact Barbara Bustamante, Associate Director/Kids Excel, at:
barbara@kids-excel.org or (915)351-6999

El Paso Quality Arts Education

Partner Schools

Kids Excel classes are conducted on the campus of each of our 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. All Kids Excel in-school programs are free to children and their families.


2022-2023 Partner Schools
El Paso Independent School District

·Archie Duran
·Charles Q. Murphree

·Zach White


Canutillo Independent School District


Ysleta Independent School District
·Eastwood Heights
·North Loop



Charter Schools
·La Fe Preparatory School

2022-2023 Board of Directors

Our Board

Stephen Feinberg, Founding Chair
Dorsar Investments


Donald R. Margo, III, Chair
HUB International


Ruben Hernandez, Vice Chair
JP Morgan Chase


Agustin Montes, Treasurer
First National 1870


Elena Tejeda, Secretary
Community Volunteer


Kate Barber
Community Volunteer


Jack Chapman
WestStar Bank


Courtney Elam
Executive/Artistic Director


Peggy Feinberg
Community Volunteer


Leonard Goodman III
Goodman Financial


Beth Hahn
Community Volunteer


Romaree Herbert
Community Volunteer


Kristi Marcum
Bank of America/Merrill Lynch


Kirk Robison
Pizza Properties, Inc.


Tania Schwartz
Community Volunteer


Dee Dee Spier
Community Volunteer


Anthony Tomasheski
Boys and Girls Clubs of El Paso


Gene Wolf
Kemp Smith LLP


Ruben Guerra, Honorary Member
Guerra Investment Advisors


Cita Sanders, Honorary Member
Community Volunteer


Ellen Weinstein, Honorary Member
Artistic Director Emerita/Senior Advisor, National Dance Institute
Keep Behind the Scenes

Our Staff

Courtney Elam, Executive/Artistic Director


Administrative Staff

Erik Baray, Associate Director, Development
Barbara Bustamante, Associate Director, Programs
David Sierra, Business Manager


Artistic Leadership
Ismar Melchor, Music Director
Hector Rodriguez, Associate Music Director
Freddie Edwards, Special Teams Associate/Teaching Artist


Artistic Staff
Faith Brashear, Apprentice
Noe Cardenas, Musician
Brenda Delgado, Teaching Artist
Nancy Garcia, Apprentice
Allison Licon, Teaching Artist
Josh Lopez, Musician

Romanti Mata, Apprentice

Siggy McCollum, Apprentice

Ilse Perez, Apprentice

Hennah Rodriguez, Musician

Laura Scally, Teaching Artist
Simone Velazquez, Teaching Artist

Keep Community Partners

Our Amazing Friends

$20,000 +

Stephen Feinberg and Susan Foote

Peggy and Andy Feinberg

Hunt Family Foundation

Wilma D. Moleen Foundation

NIKE, Inc.

Paso Del Norte Foundation

SLF Foundation

United Way of El Paso County


$10,000 to $19,999

Cardwell Foundation

City of El Paso Museums & Cultural Affairs Dept.

Cesle & Mamie Dues Foundation

Susan & Ruben Guerra

Hervey Foundation

Paso del Norte Health Foundation

Judy and Kirk Robison



$5,000 to $9,999

J.B. Margaret Blaugrund Foundation

Bodman Family Foundation

Jan and Jack Chapman

El Paso Electric Company

Elizabeth and Don Margo

Sanders Family Foundation

Susan Schwartz

Shiloff Family Foundation

Elena and Nicholas Tejeda

Texas Commission on the Arts

WestStar Bank


$1,000 to $4,999

El Paso Community Foundation

Michelle and Robert Feuille

Beth and Harold Hahn

JPMorgan Chase

Nancy Laster and Ross Dahman

Kristi Marcum


Tania and Scott Schwartz

Dee Dee and Jeff Spier

J. Edward & Helen M.C. Stern Foundation


$500 to $999

Ginger and Rick Francis

Ruben Hernandez

Cecilia and Lance Levine

LMC Design Group

Monica and Keith Mahar


Up to $499

Nicole and Mark Ahmann

Amazon Smile

David Arfin

Bank of America

Kendra Bevill

Mary Fred Cobb

Myles Cohen

The Blowe Family

Barbara Bustamante

Amanda and Tyler Daniels

Rachel Davis

Kirsten and Greg DiDonna

Misty and Brett Duke

Freddie Edwards

Martha and Cliff Eisenberg

Courtney Elam

Jody and Asher Feinberg

Juana and Francisco Fernandez

Mimi Gladstein

Valerie Dahill Gluck

Mona and Howard Goldberg

Susie and Eddie Goldman

Marlene Gonzalez

Sara Gonzalez

Melinda and Arturo Gutierrez

Kay and Harris Hatfield

Jacob Heydemann

John Heydemann

Nancy Heydemann

Ellen Janay


Stuart Kahn

Ruth and Jeff Katz

Lynn Keller

Kendra Scott LLC

Amy King

Elaine and Robert Krasne

Joanne Levine

Gretchen Love

James McCarty

Ismar Melchor

Lynette and Agustin Montes

Network for Good

Andrea Nevins

Caroline and Chad North

Irene Oppenheimer

Melissa O’Rourke

Karla Rangel

Kristin Rhodes

Lorry and Johnny Rogers

Christine Scott

David Sierra

Adrian Slater

Sarah and Charles Spencer

Ann and William Spier

Anne and Jimmy Spier

Jacqueline and Curtis Spier

Kristin and Jason Spier

Susan Spier

Charles Taylor

Valley of the Sun United Way

Scott Walker

Amy Wheels

Helen and David Yancey




Cynthia Canales

William Caparis

Keep 2022-2023

Information For Funders

Annual Report

At Kids Excel El Paso, we believe in transparency, which is why we share our Annual Reports with our supporters, we invite you to take a look.

Form 990

501 (c) 3 Letter

Recent Audit

DEIA We Embrace Differences

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Accessibility

At Kids Excel, we are committed to creating an environment that honors the humanity of all people. We believe that diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) are fundamental principles that guide our work in the arts, and that the arts enable us to do our jobs best only when these values are their foundation. Placing DEIA at the center of our engagement with children, families, schools, artists, and other communities is essential to the vitality and integrity of our work and to the achievement of our core mission.

The KEEP staff and the children we serve are our most valuable assets. The collective sum of the individual differences, life experiences, knowledge, inventiveness, innovation, self-expression, unique capabilities and talent of our student dancers and our employees is significant part of our culture and our achievements.

We embrace and encourage differences in age, color, disability, ethnicity, family or marital status, gender identity or expression, language, national origin, physical and mental ability, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, veteran status, and other characteristics that make our employees and participants unique.

Kids Excel’s diversity initiatives are applicable—but not limited—to the implementation of our in-school programs, as well as our practices and policies on recruitment and selection; compensation and benefits; professional development and training; promotions; transfers; social and recreational programs; layoffs; terminations; and the ongoing development of a work environment built on the premise of gender and diversity equity that encourages and enforces:

  • Respectful communication and cooperation between all employees and partner schools.
  • Teamwork and employee participation, permitting the representation of all groups and perspectives.
  • Work/life balance through flexible work schedules to accommodate employees’ varying needs.
  • Board and employee involvement in the communities we serve to promote a greater understanding and respect for the diversity.

All Kids Excel employees and program participants have a responsibility to treat others with dignity and respect at all times. All employees are expected to exhibit conduct that reflects inclusion during work, at work functions on or off the work site, and at all other company- sponsored and participative events. All employees are also required to attend diversity awareness trainings to enhance their knowledge to fulfill this responsibility.