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What is the purpose of the Debutante Program?

First and foremost, this is a program honoring a select number of outstanding young women. Those who participate in the Debutante Program of Sarasota and Manatee Counties benefit from their connection to a select group of women who are high achievers and invaluable resources for life. Regardless of a Debutante’s chosen path in life, she will forever have access to former Debutante’s who can serve as mentors, friends and role models.  

Second, involvement in the program provides a fun and memorable year, highlighted by The Debutante Ball. The proceeds from the Ball benefit the youth programs of the Sarasota Orchestra. These funds provide scholarships, lessons and instrument rentals for children in need who seek the enrichment of great music.

Finally, it provides a lifetime of invaluable access to all Post Debutantes where friendships thrive and opportunities for mentoring, connections and networking abound. This relationship, with the benefits it affords, is like no other. 

What are the criteria for becoming a Debutante?

Becoming a Debutante is a great honor, extended to a very limited number of young women in Sarasota and Manatee Counties each year. Those chosen for our program are exceptional young women, successful in their endeavors, role models to peers, and are future leaders of our community. Being a Debutante is an honor that recognizes achievements and accomplishments. It tells college admissions officers, and future employers, that the Post Debutante is active as a leader in her school and community, and is a highly respected individual who is committed to programs which serve others.


Prospective Debutantes are invited by written invitation from the Debutante Committee.  The criteria for selecting Debutantes are:


  1. The family of each young woman must maintain its primary residence, or the young woman must be attending school, in either Sarasota or Manatee County.

  2. Nominees will receive their invitation in their junior year of high school. The Debutante Season begins in the winter of her junior year in high school and ends with the Debutante Ball in December of her senior year.

  3. A nominee for the Debutante Program shall be an exceptional young woman, successful and accomplished in all her endeavors (school, work, community services); a highly respected role model and leader, with a commitment to community service; one who exhibits good moral character as evidenced by mature, appropriate behavior in and outside of school; and demonstrates future leadership potential as evidenced by her involvement in school, community and/or place of worship.

  4. Each young woman shall be recommended and supported by at least two members of the Debutante Committee (past or present), Advisory Committee, Debutante families (present or past) and/or members of the community familiar with the criteria for the Debutante Program.

What happens during the Debutante Year?

The Debutantes, their families and their chosen escorts enjoy a year where connections are created and new friendships are made.   

  • Fun social events hosted by the committee and the families honoring all Debutantes.  

  • Debutantes participate in a community service project in which they assist the youth of the Sarasota Orchestra.  

  • Special offerings on such topics as personal development, etiquette, tips for college and professional interviews, and a new look at social media offer Debutantes a distinctive advantage so that they will feel comfortable and confident in any social, collegiate or professional situation. Networking connections are introduced via our 600+ Post Debutantes.

  • Events for Debutantes and their mothers.

  • Debutantes and their fathers participate in group waltz lessons to prepare them for the most meaningful, touching and memorable moment when they waltz together at The Debutante Ball in December … always reported as the highlight of the year by the dads and Debs! 

It is a year of interaction for everyone involved, with opportunities to network and make lasting friendships.  It is also a time when the Debutante and her parents can spend quality time together in the year before she leaves for college. Past participants always report that the entire experience provided fond memories to last a lifetime.  It truly is a program, and an opportunity, like no other. 

What is the time commitment for participation in the Debutante Program?

Participation in the Debutante Program does not require a huge time commitment.  Since the Debutante Year generally extends from January through December, a full calendar year, the few mandatory aspects of the program are spread out so that  involvement requires no more than a couple hours per month … and not even every month.  We understand that Debutantes are very busy young women, which is why they have been chosen!  All past participants have found that participation fits easily into their already busy schedules.

What are the costs associated with participation in the Debutante Program?

The financial commitment for participation is far less than most expect for a program of this caliber with the exceptional experience and advantages it provides to all participants.  Modifications to a family's financial commitment can change from one year to the next. 

1.  Pledge of Commitment: Each Debutante family makes an initial contribution (also known as a ‘Pledge of Commitment’) of $2,700 (Including Tuxedo's) upon accepting the invitation to participate. This contribution, payable by check or charge card, covers basic program expenses such as waltz lessons, program materials and printing, flowers, etc.

2.  Debutante Ball Expenses:  Each Debutante family's financial responsibility for Debutante Ball tickets is $3300.   This includes tickets for the Debutante, her escorts, and her parents. The Debutante family decides how to approach this financial obligation. The family's guests can pay for their Ball tickets, or they can be paid for by the Debutante family.  Regardless, the Debutante family is ultimately responsible, and payment of the ticket commitment is due in December.

3.  The remaining costs associated with the Program are listed below, and are totally at each family’s discretion.  
    a.  Debutante's Attire for The Debutante Ball:  For The Ball, each Debutante must wear a white ball gown and requisite pearls, gloves, shoes, crinoline and earrings. We have many Post-Debutante families willing to loan their gowns, or sell them at a reduced cost. Some Debutantes have chosen to wear "legacy" gowns - those borrowed from Post-Debutantes. If the family chooses to purchase a gown, gloves, shoes and crinoline, all can be found at local consignment shops, bridal salons, online, or at formal-wear stores. Pearls and earrings do not have to be cultured, and can be purchased very reasonably.   

    b.  Father's and Escorts' Attire for The Debutante Ball:  There is a cost for the father and two escorts to rent the mandatory formal tuxedo (white tie and tails).  The Committee works with a specific formal-wear supplier, negotiating for fathers and escorts a most reasonable rental rate of $165 per person (included in Pledge of Commitment, which includes the tuxedo and all accessories including shoes.

    c.  Debutante Family-Hosted Event:  Each Debutante family hosts an event honoring all the Debutantes.  What do these events look like?  They are fun, multi-generational events that suit a family’s style, the purpose of which is to celebrate all our outstanding Debutantes.  They need not be “MTV My Sweet 16” caliber soirees, neither do they need to be excessive or costly.  Guest lists can include just the group involved with the current year’s Debutante program, or be expanded to include extended family and friends.  Most often, families team up (three to five families have teamed up to host each event), to keep their event "budget-friendly."  While it is hard to put a firm dollar value on this aspect of the program, the Committee is ready to provide assistance to a family in planning a very reasonable event ~ including venues, budgets, etc. This social aspect of the program is as fun and beneficial for the parents as it is for the youth involved.

In summary – the program can be affordable for families, as costs are spaced out over a twelve month time period.  

Frequently Asked Questions

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