The Shiloh Debutante Program (hereafter known as “SDP”) is an outreach ministry of the historic Shiloh Baptist Church of Washington, DC. Faith-based in its operation and administration, the SDP is an enrichment program for teen girls wishing to prepare for college and careers and enter contemporary society. At the core of our program are rites of passage workshops designed to provide opportunities for girls to discuss, learn and practice essential life skills with grace and poise. Workshop facilitators create experiences and activities that help girls develop or refine character, self-esteem and interpersonal skills.

Workshops are capped with biblical lessons and take-home messages on morality, integrity, obedience, prayer, grace, mercy and forgiveness, virtues we feel will empower our girls to cope with the challenges of today’s society. An additional program benefit is the opportunity for our participants to earn scholarships through family-directed fundraising activities. This nine-month program of antiquity culminates in a grand ball, where debutantes showcase skills learned and are celebrated for their academic accomplishments.

We have selected for our theme an adage that we feel captures the essence of our program: It’s not where you start, but where you finish. We have embraced butterfly as our mascot. Its life cycle symbolizes the steady and wonderfully transforming experience girls receive as participants in this rites of passage program.

Our Purpose


The SDP committee envisions a world of equality and opportunity for all girls. We strive to help develop teen girls who will hold themselves in high regard by building character and self-esteem, improving academic performance, increasing commitment to community service and developing interpersonal relationships.


Using real-world experience and accomplished adult mentors, the mission of the SDP is to inspire teen girls to graduate from high school, pursue higher education and become productive, caring and educated adults. In addition, the program will promote abstinence from sex, drugs, smoking and violence through the teachings of God’s Word.


The SDP will strive to
The ultimate goal of this faith-based program is to elevate and motivate our debutantes to live God’s purpose and plan for their lives, to walk by the Word and to enjoy the journey!


The SDP will aim to have 100% of debutantes:


The SDP does not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, disability or religious affiliation in the administration of it program and events.


There are three classes of SDP debutantes:



The rites of passage workshops begin with a 45-min Bible study taught by ministers or laypersons from the historic Shiloh Baptist Church of Washington, DC. Bible lessons are followed by lessons in American Sign Language (ASL). ASL has been an integral part of the Shiloh community for over 100 years. Participants learn to sign “The Doxology”, a short hymn of praises to God. It is the committee’s aim to raise awareness, to help debutantes develop an appreciation for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community and to potentially inspire interests in learning the art of sign language.
Community service is also a major component of the SDP. Through community service, we aim to promote and cultivate our participants’ awareness of and inspire an appreciation for giving of one’s self in service to others.
Following lessons in ASL, rites of passage workshops are facilitated by persons with expertise in the following areas:



The SDP committee expects its debutantes to pursue a post-secondary education. To help meet this expectation, the program includes a fundraising component that requires all debutantes to raise funds to earn a debutante scholarship. The committee expects debutantes to participate in fundraising activities according to the program’s policy. 

The fundraising season convenes in August and culminates in April of the following year. Realistic and attainable fundraising targets have been set for our participants; however, the SDP committee encourages families to raise funds beyond the minimum targets so debutantes may receive a sizeable scholarship. 

  • Senior debs must commit to raising a minimum of $2,000; 
  • junior debs, a minimum of $1,500; and 
  • pre-debs, a minimum of $1,000. 

The size of a debutante’s scholarship depends on her family’s fundraising efforts.

Debutante Ball

After nine weeks of studying God’s Word, attending rites of passage workshops, participating in community service projects and creative fundraising activities, the SDP season culminates in an elegant ball. Although the purpose of the debutante ball has changed over the years, this faith-based program upholds the traditions, grace and splendor of the debutante ball of yesterday. Elegant gowns, gloves, receiving lines, escorts and the famous curtsy remain beloved customs of the cotillion. 

Debutantes are presented to society and their workshops and fundraising successes are celebrated. Clad in elegant princess gowns, the debutantes will ballroom dance with their fathers and teen escorts. The evening concludes in the crowing of the queen.

Calendar of Events


Due to COVID-19, the Shiloh Debutante Program Committee will host a virtual program. However, due to the nature and objective of certain workshops, the committee will host in-person workshops, during which time the committee will adhere to Center for Disease Control and District of Columbia COVID-19 safe practices. All workshops and activities will be held on Saturdays from 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. unless otherwise indicated,
DateWorkshops and Activities DetailNotes
September 12Bible lesson / Sign “The Doxology”
“College Preparedness”
September 26Bible lesson / Sign Language
“Basic Rules of Etiquette” (dining/social)
In person/extended
October 3

Bible lesson / Sign Language
“Netiquette” (Social Networking Etiquette)
“Basic Financial Literacy for Teens”
Friday, October 16

Sign Language
Sleepover: “Teen Yoga and Mindfulness”
November 7Bible lesson / Sign Language
“Civic Engagement and Responsibility”
“Teen Environmental Stewardship”
Sunday, November 29Worship @ ShilohLivestream
December Winter Break Virtual community service project(s) and activities with POCs*
January 9, 2021Bible lesson / Virtual tourNational Museum of African American History and Culture
January 30Bible lesson / Virtual tourAfrican American Civil War Memorial Museum
February 20Bible lesson / Virtual tourBethune House Nat’l Historic House
C. G. Woodson Nat’l Historic Site
February 28

HBCU Sunday

March 6

End-of-Year Review
Souvenir journal photo sessions
Prep toiletries for community service
In person

March 20

ALL participants

April 3

Debs, fathers, teen escorts

April 17

Debs, fathers, teen escorts
May 1

Debs, fathers, teen escorts
May 2 (Deb Tea)

ALL participants

May 8

Debs, fathers, teen escorts

May 15

ALL participants

May 19 (Wed)

6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Debs, fathers, teen escorts
May 22
ALL participants

May 26 (Wed)

6:30 p.m. 8:30 p.m.
Debs, fathers, teen escorts
FINAL dance rehearsal
May 29
ALL participants: Debutante BallArrival by noon

SDP Application

Minimum Requirements

At the beginning of fall 2020, a prospective senior debutante must be a senior in high school or a college freshman (attending a local university), no more than 18 years of age; a junior debutante must be a high school junior or a sophomore; and a pre-debutante must be a freshman in high school, and at least age 14 by October.

All applicants must:

Applications for the 2021-2022 program-year will be available March 1, 2021.

Executive Committee

1500 Ninth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20001-3318

Rev. Wallace Charles Smith, DMin, Senior Minister
www.shilohbaptist.org, 202-232-4288