Des Lee Mission Fine Arts Collaborative Statement

The E. Desmond Lee Fine Arts Education Collaborative seeks to develop and expand a national model for collaborative efforts that serves the advancement of fine arts education through broad, collective impact structures.

Organization Objectives

The E. Desmond Lee Fine Arts Education Collaborative seeks to develop and expand a national model for collaborative efforts that serve the advancement of fine arts education through broad, collective impact structures.

  • To provide educational fine arts programs, concerts, clinics, masterclasses and other educational experiences for participating schools

  • To increase and enhance arts education programming for an ethnically and culturally diverse population where a majority of students qualify for free or reduced-cost meals.

  • To provide support and encouragement for music educators and other fine arts educators in all stages of career development through professional development, facilitated mentoring support, and online resources

  • To encourage community dialogue and understanding through participation in fine arts events and programs.

E. Desmond Lee, philanthropist

A commitment to helping others was a prime motivational force in Des Lee’s life. Born into a family of modest means during the Great Depression, Lee’s family may not have had a lot of money, but they did have a happy home life. Serving as an inspiration and role model for success through education was Lee’s father, Edgar D. Lee, who served as president of the Christian College in Columbia, Missouri, from 1917-1934. Today the school is known as Columbia College.

As a young man, Des Lee enjoyed success as both a football and basketball player, where his determination to compete and succeed was formed. Drafted into the military during World War II, Lee’s first assignment was to command a unit of African American troops in the South. There he witnessed first-hand the ugliness of racism and discrimination. As a businessman and entrepreneur building a successful international company, Lee always had time for his family and his employees. His relationship with his employees was exemplary and continues to serve as an example in labor-management relations.