Inspiring Hope and Transforming Lives

About Us


Who We Are

The Dr. James Polk Academy provides programming for students, ages 7-18, with an emphasis on under-served youth with limited exposure to the arts. Research suggests that youth in this age group who experience real-life value in education are less likely to drop out of school and are more likely to become good citizens and contributing members of society. 

What We Do

By presenting creative learning opportunities, the Academy will target such young people using real, applied research and experience to assist in developing their artistic abilities and long-term appreciation for the arts.

The Academy will also offer master classes and workshops in a variety of disciplines that will be open to the public as well as Academy students. 

Our collaboration with various non-profits will attract regional as well as national talent that appeals to students and the public alike. 

About Dr. Polk

Dr. James Polk was born into a musical family and grew up in Corpus Christi TX.  During his school years he excelled in all his music classes. He attended Huston-Tilloston College, graduating in 1962 with a B.A. in Music Education.  He later received a M.S. degree in Music and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Huston-Tillotson College in 1995.

In 1978 Dr Polk joined the Ray Charles Orchestra as an organist/pianist, writer, arranger and conductor. Two songs that he arranged “Ain’t It So” and “I wish You Were Here Tonight” were nominated for Grammy Awards.  He also arranged the Ray Charles Christmas CD.

Dr. Polk retired from teaching in 2006, receiving his status of Professor Emeritus of Jazz Studies.  Today, he continues to perform at various venues throughout the state of Texas.

Mission and Vision


To empower youth by providing high quality programs that foster artistic development and performance, enrich lives through leadership development and mentorship, preserve cultural heritage, offer opportunities to embrace a lifelong appreciation of the arts, inspire hope and transform lives.  



To inspire a community of youth enrichment through artistic development and appreciation of the arts.


Core Values



We believe that everyone needs a mentor—someone to trust, to share honestly with, and to enables us to be accountable to ourselves. We need spaces where we can be ourselves, to have our own ideas and vision. 


The diverse voices of young people drive the direction of our programs and our organization. 


We believe everyone is ready to inspire or be inspired, that we all have something to teach and to learn. 


We believe everyone can become a leader when given the opportunity to lead with direction and support, 

DJPA Programs



 The Colours Program engages young Black women (9th - 12th grade) by empowering them with skills to become strong, productive global citizens. The Program connects youth with positive mentors who offer support, suggestions, positive reinforcement and constructive examples of successful women. 

Shining Stars


Shining Star participants learn vocal performance skills during weekly lessons with DJPA staff in preparation for performances at local events.  



The Dr. James Polk Academy offers a drumline program for 25 underserved 6th – 12 graders in Austin, Texas.  Drumline participants learn the skill of playing a percussion instrument as part of a community of musicians, sharing the joy of making music together.  

Youth Community Orchestra


The YCO accepts musically talented 9th – 12th graders who have at least 2 years of experience playing in orchestra and/or studying the instrument. The YCO meets year-round, primarily on Saturdays and for a summer camp each June.   

Piano Scholars


The Dr. James Polk Academy offers Piano Scholars, a program to improve academic success of low-income students (grades 1 – 4) in Austin, Texas that combines academic support (tutoring/ homework assistance) with group piano lessons. Participants meet 4 times per week for tutoring, piano lessons and practice sessions.  

Help Our Cause

Your support and contributions will enable us to meet our goals. Your generous donation will fund our mission.

Pay with PayPal or a debit/credit card

Volunteer Opportunities

Contact Us

For inquiries about Dr. James Polk Academy activities, please contact us  at

We will get back to you soon!

Dr. James Polk Academy of Arts & Technology

P O Box 144562, Austin, TX 78714 (512) 817-0400

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