Art from Ashes has the pleasure of working with young people across the Denver Metro area, providing creative youth empowerment programs on site at our location in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, right off the 10th and Osage Light Rail.
Do you need a safe, nonjudgmental place to be creative? Do you like poetry and art? Enjoy spoken word? Might want to be rapper? Just like to write or draw or paint? Know a young person who does?
Every Wednesday our doors are open to young people age 12 to 24 for Creative Time from 2.30 to 4.30 pm followed by Phoenix Rising poetry and spoken word workshops. IT’S ALL FREE TO YOUTH, including writing and art materials, food, beverages, guest poets and artist performances, and pizza!
The Wednesday drop-in schedule is as follows:
2:30 PM: Art activities, comfy couches, snacks and beverages
4:00 PM: Clean up 4:30 PM: Pizza 4:45 PM: Youth empowerment workshop with guest artist 6:30 PM: Wrap up
Our founding director, Catherine O’Neill Thorn, was recently featured as the keynote speaker for Creative Mornings-Denver! Creative Mornings is a breakfast lecture series for the creative community that has chapters all over the world, and Catherine was chosen to speak on Genius… kind of our wheelhouse. The video includes two youth poets and a writing prompt you can try!
“Art from Ashes Executive Director and Poet Catherine O’Neill Thorn talks about how her organization helps young people who have experienced pain recover by finding their creative genius through poetry.
“At Art from Ashes, Catherine O’Neill Thorn and her team believe that each person is born a creative genius. Yet young people who have experienced abuse, poverty, racism and other forms of trauma struggle with self-worth and hopelessness because of their negative experiences. Come to hear from some of the artists who’ve gone through her program and learn how AfA’s team facilitate the awareness of an identity based on creative power, and from the ashes of despair, like a phoenix, youth learn to speak transformation into their lives through poetry and art.”
The NAHYP is a program of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities™—in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services™—to showcase cultural excellence and enhance the availability of out-of-school arts and humanities programs to children and young people.
Since AfA has consistently been recognized by this prestigious organization, we received a letter from the National Endowment for the Humanities encouraging us to apply for their Challenge Grant. After several conversations with the federal agency and over 100 hours of work on behalf of several members of the grant team, we applied for a two-year federal grant in May.
On June 9 Art from Ashes, guest artists, and more than 50 supportive donors gathered at the Grant-Humphreys Mansion in Denver to celebrate the importance of creativity in substance-abuse prevention and recovery.
The gala fundraiser, Recover Your Creative Genius, grew out of AfA’s success working addiction and substance abuse prevention and intervention. It was organized in large part by Liz Kane of Centennial Peaks Hospital, Rourke Weaver of Red Rock Recovery Center, with support from Wesley Hooks of Sandstone Care. Many of the young people we serve have been affected by substance abuse, and our youth empowerment programs demonstrate the importance of creative expression for personal transformation.
Keynote speaker Austin Eubanks spoke about his journey from Columbine survivor through addiction to his current work as an addiction expert. Guest artists Sur Ellz and Kid Astronavt joined AfA youth poet Savannah Ray Arterburn to provide an incredibly moving performance. Boss Sauce provided appetizers and a lavish three-course meal, and AfA board members, volunteers and staff contributed wine.
AfA Board President Lewis Lease and Executive Director Catherine O’Neill Thorn discussed the importance of AfA in our community and also thanked the attendees for supporting our programs with their generosity.
On May 23, Art from Ashes was one of six charities chosen by the Young AmeriTowne youth board members to receive a donation at a lovely ceremony at Young American’s Bank in Lakewood. Over the course of the year, everyone was invited to donate personal funds or business profits at the donation station. The Community First Foundation agreed to match $.10 to each AmeriTowne dollar donated. We are especially grateful to the incredible youth from Young AmeriTowne for choosing our organization!
Young AmeriTowne is an organization that offers teachers of 4th and 5th graders a program that helps students learn about business, economics, and free enterprise. Every year they choose six new charities to receive AmeriTowne dollars, a play currency used to represent real money. Young AmeriTowne has over 11,000 youth participating at the Belmar location and over 25,000 students overall in their flagship program.
We are incredibly excited to announce that we have received a significant donation from the Noon Whistle Fund! The Noon Whistle Fund is a family foundation whose members came all the way from Chicago this month to visit our office here in Denver. We ran through our Love Synesthesia prompt together, showing them how transformative our curriculum is for young people. Not only did they provide us with our requested amount, but they informed us a few days after their visit that they were so impressed with our program, they would be increasing it by 72% to provide additional staff support!
The Noon Whistle created their donor-advised fund in order to give back to many communities, wherever they may be. They do not have a website and don’t want to provide any contact information. The family members who comprise the foundation are kind and caring people, and we are so very thankful for their generosity. Because of support like this, we can all breathe more deeply, the load a little lighter.
Art from Ashes (AfA) is grateful to have an amazing team of volunteer grant writers, editors, and researchers who donate their time and talents to help AfA generate funding for our creative youth empowerment programs. This year, the volunteer grant team has applied for seven grants from a variety of funders including state, federal, nonprofit, and foundation grantors. AfA has already received four grant awards so far this year AND a great honor:
Denver Active 20-30 Children’s Foundation
Office of Children’s Affairs Healthy Lifestyles for Youth
The Tony Grampsas Youth Services Award (TGYS)
Arts in Society (a new funder for us)
In February, AfA applied for the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award and once again, we have been recognized as one of the top 50 youth arts organizations in the country. The NAHYP is a program of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities™—in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services™—to showcase cultural excellence and enhance the availability of out-of-school arts and humanities programs to children and young people. Since AfA has consistently been recognized by this prestigious organization, we received a letter from the National Endowment for the Humanities encouraging us to apply for their Challenge Grant. After several conversations with the federal agency and over 100 hours of work on behalf of several members of the grant team, we applied for a two-year federal grant in May.
Thank you to the dedicated members of the AfA grant team, and many thanks to community sponsors, like SCFD, 2A, TGYS, and Arts in Society, who allow us to continue providing creative youth empowerment programs for the youth in our community!
Rachel Icolari, 18, a long-time Art from Ashes workshop participant, facilitator-in-training, and youth representative to the agency’s board of directors, was presented the 2017 Mayor’s Youth Award on March 17. Each year, the City of Denver asks individuals in the community to submit nominations for the award. AfA staff and board members were eager to nominate Rachel, an amazing youth who discovered AfA while in residential treatment. Rachel regularly attends the Wednesday drop-in workshops at AfA’s location in the Lincoln Park neighborhood and helps facilitate the First Friday workshops.
“Art from Ashes has completely changed my life,” Rachel says. “I was thinking of dropping out of school, but after I started going to the workshops every week, I decided that wasn’t a good idea because I was shown that I have a future.” Rachel no longer wants to drop out of school after experiencing connection, expression, and transformation at AfA. Instead, Rachel says “I am going to college after I graduate and will be majoring in special education with a minor in creative writing.”
Rachel met the Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock during the awards ceremony and was recognized for numerous personal achievements. Way to go, Rachel!
Watch the Video! (at 43:06)
Exciting things to come! Staff members Courtney Chandler and Veronica Holyfield have been in collaboration with students from the Daniel’s School of Business at the University of Denver. As part of their master’s program scope of work, classes have dispatched into groups and sought out local non-profit organizations in need as part of their social good challenge.
Art from Ashes has been selected as one of the lucky recipients of this support of business-minded ingenuity with specialization in marketing and development strategy. Currently under construction is a revamping of the corporate workshop concept Apostrophe Factor 2.0, which is set to launch trials in spring.
We’re looking forward to seeing success in sponsorship through business alliances while utilizing the spectacular Phoenix Rising and Drawing on Air curriculum!
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