Latest news from Art from Ashes!

AfA Youth Write Dreams on a Prayer Wheel

Prayer Wheel (in progress)by Courtney Chandler

On July 11, 2016, Art from Ashes partnered with Arts Street and artist Deborah Jang to facilitate a workshop dedicated to a Denver-based community art project called Turn It Around. As a collaborative effort for this project, the group of youth at Arts Street and AfA’s drop-in workshops wrote oodles of prayers, in the form of 3-minute poems and drawings, expressing their hopes and aspirations for the betterment of our community and furthering racial equality.

Jang created three interactive sculptures inspired by Tibetan prayer wheels for her Turn It Around project, funded by Art Students League of Denver. Each hand-written youth poem was physically placed on the inside of one of the prayer wheel sculptures, which was just installed on February 10, 2017 at the light-rail station located at 10th Avenue and Osage Street—half a block away from AfA’s new office!

Next time you stop by our agency, be sure to spin the prayer wheel and spread our youth’s poetic love for our community.

Granted A Great Honor

by Jessica Jarrard

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 already applied for six grants from a variety of funders including state, federal, nonprofit, and foundation grantors.

AfA has already received three grant awards this year from 2A, TGYS, and a new local funder, Arts in Society. In February, AfA applied for the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award (NAHYP) and was recognized again by NAHYP as one of the nation’s Top 50 Arts Agencies.

As a result of our consistent recognition by this prestigious organization, on May 3, 2017, AfA 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 by 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 our valued community sponsors, especially SCFD, 2A, TGYS, and Arts in Society, whose support allows us to continue providing youth-focused creative empowerment programs in our community.

AfA Poet Recognized With Mayor’s Youth Award

Rachel Icolari, an Art from Ashes (AfA) workshop participant, facilitator, and youth representative to the agency’s board, was presented the Mayor’s Youth Award on March 22, 2017.

Each year, the City of Denver invites youth organizations to put forward nominations. The AfA staff and board members were eager to nominate Rachel, an amazing youth who discovered AfA while living in a residential treatment center. Rachel regularly attends the Wednesday drop-in workshops at AfA’s Denver Lincoln Park location and she helps facilitate AfA’s First Friday poetry 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 through her participation in AfA workshops. Rachel says that instead of dropping out, she is now “going to college after I graduate and will be majoring in Special Education with a minor in Creative Writing.”

Rachel met Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock during the awards ceremony and was recognized for numerous personal achievements.

Way to go, Rachel!

AfA Partners With DU Students

Programs_ApostropheHover_160x100Exciting 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!

Wednesday Drop-In Update!

Drop-In Flyer

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 new location in the Lincoln Park neighborhood.

Do you like poetry? Enjoy the spoken word? Might want to be rapper? Just like to write? Know a young person who does? Every Wednesday from 4:30 to 6:30 pm, AfA provides Phoenix Rising drop-in workshops for youth ages 12 to 24 at 1310 W. 10th Ave in Denver only half a block north of the Osage Light Rail Station.

Pizza, pens, and journals are all provided free of charge. Each workshop also features a guest poet from the community, such as Angela Nicole and Irina Bogomolova, as well as more nationally known poets like Kid Astronavt, formerly of Air Dubai, and rapper Lily Fangz.

Art from Ashes is a safe place, always has been, always will be. In an effort to be more accommodating to some of the youth who need a safe place before the drop-in starts, AfA will be open for youth on Wednesdays starting at 2 pm.

The new Wednesday drop-in schedule is as follows:
2:00 PM.: Doors open for youth
2:30 PM: Art activities
4:00 PM: Clean up
4:30 PM: Pizza
4:45 PM: Youth empowerment workshop with guest artist
6:30 PM: Wrap up

Check out our YouTube channel to hear some creative genius from past Wednesday night drop-ins.


2017 Calendar!

calendar-cover It’s finally here! The 2017 Art from Ashes calendar is a collaboration between Colorado artists and youth poets, coordinated by Drawing on Air facilitator and Art from Ashes Director of Programs Courtney Chandler!

Over the last 13 years, Art from Ashes has seen more than 10,000 youth come through our creative expression workshops throughout Colorado. We have collected several thousand poems that express life situations and vulnerable emotions, written in only three minutes. Their words often reflect the pain and suffering many have experienced in their young lives, and also expose the power and wisdom they’ve gained through their art. From these compelling poems, we had the difficult task of selecting only a few pieces that illustrate the incredible transformation our youth experience as a result of our creative empowerment program, Phoenix Rising.

In 2Courtney Chandler016, Art from Ashes collaborated with 13 distinguished visual artists in the Colorado community to produce this calendar. We asked the artists to create imagery that epitomized the powerful poetry written by these youth.

We would love to thank you for your donation of $25 or higher with this beautiful calendar. The donation will go towards the Drawing on Air youth empowerment program.

You can donate through or through PayPal or by mail: Art from Ashes • 1310 West 10th Ave. • Denver, CO 80204

Or stop by the office and say hi! We’d love to thank you in person and show you our new space at the corner of 10th and Navajo.

Stay tuned for an art gallery opening at our new space on the corner of Navajo and 10th Avenue featuring some of the artists and our youth poets!



Our surveys show our results. We provide more than poetry workshops, Art from Ashes shows young people that through the power of their creative genius, all things are possible in their lives.

Download a pdf of our 2015 evaluation results

AfA’s pre and post surveys, conducted on youth in the Phoenix Rising program since 2009, show that the workshops develop youth connections to their communities and produce in youth a deeper belief in themselves and their potential, leading to improved social and emotional skills and behavior.

In 2015, surveys demonstrated

  • a 9% increase in youth who say they try hard in school
  • a 60% increase in youth who say they are good at setting goals
  • a 209% increase in youth who say they see themselves as poets
  • a 56% increase in youth who say they believe young people can be poets
  • a 73% increase in youth who say they spend time doing poetry

AfA’s youth empowerment programs are fundamental to providing the self-value and motivation necessary for youth to take advantage of educational opportunities, job and career counseling, drug and alcohol rehab, and mental health services.

The value of the program is regularly recognized by the community it serves, as evidenced by this recent testimonial: “I can’t thank you enough…The work that you do is helping to transform our school and inspire our students more than you may know.”
— Brian Sleevi, creative writing teacher at The New America School in Thornton, Colorado.

AfA’s evaluation results are integrated into ongoing curriculum design enhancement and program implementation, improved staff training, and communication of program results to community partners and funders.

AfA’s surveys include space for personal testimonials about the program. When asked what change, if any, they saw in their life as a result of this program, youth responses included:

  • “I have creative genius in me, and people want to hear it spoken.”
  • “Art from Ashes has helped me get into writing and finding the passion that had lay within.”
  • “I see a huge change. I didn’t know I could be the creative. In a way, I didn’t know how much I have in me.
  • “I will have more faith in myself when it comes to making important decisions in life.”

SCFD Grants

SCFD LogoArt from Ashes has received grants from the Denver County Cultural Council, the Adams County Cultural Council, the Arapahoe County Cultural Council and the Douglas County Cultural Council to support workshops in those specific counties in 2018.

Thank you to the citizens of the SCFD counties who voted to continue SCFD funding!  See below for how much your decision to spend 1/10th of 1 penny impacts Colorado!

The Colorado Business Committee for the Arts analyzed the economic impact of arts organizations assisted by SCFD funding:

  • Economic activity: $1.8 billion
  • Cultural tourism: $367 million; capital expenditures: $55 million; federal grants: $90.8 million
  • Total jobs: 10,731 (This covers a broad array of positions, from curator to accountant to zookeeper to jazz teacher)
  • Total payroll: $165.2 million
  • Total seat sales and payroll taxes: $19.8 million
  • Total contributions: $176.4 million
  • Total attendance: 13.9 million (The average metro resident had 4.5 art experiences in 2015.)
  • Total outreach to children: 3.9 million
  • Total volunteers 42,415 (Hours spent volunteering reached 2,031,073.)
  • SCFD distributions: $53.2 million.

-Sonya Ellingboe, Castle Rock News-Press

We Moved!


10th-navajoFor 13 years Art from Ashes has proclaimed the power of words — a power that is evident in the transformed lives of the youth we serve. This year, and especially these past several weeks, we have seen the power of hateful words to be very real, especially in the political arena. And that negative power hit home for Art from Ashes in a very real way, too. The rhetoric of fear has infected our relationship with our landlord. Formerly an ally, he has made it clear he can no longer support our stand for racial justice. Because of this tension and his unreasonable demand for a $1000 a month rent increase, we cannot continue to serve the youth in our current space.

Fear breeds fear, and we were terrified. We had no idea where to go so quickly or where we would find a place our small agency could afford. Art from Ashes staff and volunteers helped turn 853 Inca St from an ugly warehouse to the warm and comfortable place is has been for us, for the volunteers, for the community, and most importantly, for the youth for nearly 10 years.

But Art from Ashes handles fear with faith.

We had faith in our community, and our community rose to the occasion. The Denver Housing Authority is providing a welcoming home for our diverse population. We will be moving into the space at 10th and Navajo on December 29th–30th!newspace-2

The young people impacted by bigotry and abuse need us more than ever, because they also are angry, afraid and feeling unheard. Thanks to your vital support over the years, the generosity of our funders, the hard work of our staff, board and volunteers, and the good people at Denver Housing Authority, AfA will continue to give the youth the opportunity to be heard, because we know their creative power will transform the world for good.

Some think our country is moving backward, but Art from Ashes is pushing forward. Will you move forward with us?

Please let us know if you are willing to support our work with youth (in a new place in a new year!)

Thank you to all our volunteers for helping us move! Look forward to our upcoming “Illuminate” homewarming, gallery opening, and youth performance!