The Delta Blues Education Fund was founded in November, 1992 with the mission statement "to bring together the children and master musicians of the Mississippi Delta for the continuation of the Delta Blues tradition." Approximately eighty-seven percent of its budget is used to pay master Delta Blues artists (and for direct support materials such as musical instruments).
The important musical genre the Delta Blues was born in the community and geographic region served by the DBEP. Even though Deltanatives Muddy waters, B.B. King, Howlin' Wolf, Albert King, John Lee Hooker, and others left for more promising opportunities elsewhere, hundreds of other artists stayed behind and keep the tradition alive at home where it is played at weddings, house parties, fish fries, juke joints and festivals.
Ninety-five percent of the DBEP's apprentices are Black, and most have Native American heritage. Most come from impoverished families, and are between the ages of 9 and 15. Many of the best apprentices are considered "at risk" children in the local school systems. The Delta Community served by the DBEP is sixty-five percent African-American, and predominately rural/agricultural based.
Graduates of the DBEP include Howard Stovall, Billy Gibson, Arthneice "Gas Man" Jones, Harvell & Dione Thomas, Anthony Sherard, Venessia Young, Artrelle Earl, Lee Williams, Fred Hicks and John Ruskey.