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Featured on Groupon! colorado gives day!
24 Hours to Give Where You Live

Please support Art from Ashes on Colorado Gives Day through ColoradoGives.org! Providing support through this site anytime until 11.59 pm on December 10th, allows us to benefit from an incentive fund provided by FirstBank and Community First Foundation. Just select the button "Schedule a donation for Colorado Gives Day 12/10/2013" when donating.

Donate online any time during the 24 hour period of December 10 to "give where you live!"


:: President's Award :: Colorado and Company #2! :: The Apostrophe factor!
:: Staff Updates :: Mayor's Youth Award! :: FREE Adult Workshops
:: Meet Aimee! :: Colorado Gives Day! :: Previous News

Art from Ashes considered one of the top 50 youth arts organizations in nation

AfA was named a Finalist for the prestigious President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities 2013 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award. In the certificate from the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities, Art from Ashes is noted as "one of the top arts and humanities-based programs in the country." The President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities "bridges the interests of federal agencies and the private sector, supports special projects that increase participation and excellence in the arts and humanities and helps incorporate these disciplines into White House objectives under our Honorary Chairperson First Lady Michelle Obama."

Read more below.


AfA youth poet and ED featured on Colorado and Company...twice!
On Tuesday, Sept. 3, Catherine O'Neill Thorn and youth poet Prinjastin Sykes were invited to be featured on Colorado and Company on 9News (see video below). You can see us again on Tuesday, Nov. 12 at 10 am, featuring another AfA youth poet, Wolf Girl! For those of you who won't be able to watch, we'll post the video as soon as it becomes available. WATCH VIDEO HERE


staff updates
from Jessica, Director of Programs, Phoenix Rising Poetry and Spoken Word, and Volunteer Coordinator (why yes, she is a bit busy):

Volunteer Update
Last month we welcomed 8 new ArtCurious volunteers: Amanda, Asia, Blair, Devin, Mara, Maria, Whitney, and Yanara!

We have another youth intern, in addition to our youth interns Wolf Girl, Solomon, and Shiloh! Her name is Lulu Casias and she is with us this school year through Mapleton Early College High School's internship program. She helps with a variety of office tasks including making gorgeous collage cards for various purposes.

We also recently had a group of temporary volunteers from a class at CU Denver. Seven students and their teacher have been working hard and made our 10th Anniversary Soiree a success! A big thanks goes out to Yvette Bueno Olson, Ben Gazaway, Dan Gormon, Emily Metscher, Erin Trinka, Lauren Harball, Lauren Horowitz, and Lee Tran!

The next volunteer meeting will be November 25th, 6 to 7:30pm. If you'd like to join the crew, fill out an application here.

Programs Update
While at Excelsior Youth Center, I had a girl pull me aside after we had completed our second of six workshops. She wanted to thank us for coming to do the workshops with them. She also wanted to make sure that I knew that even though they seems loud and sometimes like they were not paying attention, that this was the best they had been all week and that they really did enjoy our time there. It was a great reminder that no matter how difficult it can be to think that you are not getting through to the youth, that you really are. The seeds are just planted in different forms from youth to youth. Showing them we care and are there to listen to their voice is all they need. Read more here.

In October we had 23 youth workshops, kicking of the Fall semester.

New community partners include Compassion Road Academy, Aurora Central High School, and ACE Community Challenge School.

We had our First Friday performance this past week on November 1st. Our next First Friday performance will be on December 6th. The youth will perform at the Denver Art Society at 7pm and at I Can Jam Studios at 7:30pm.

We will also have two youth perform at The Dikeou Collection (18th and California) on November 17th at 6:30pm

To support Art from Ashes youth programs, click HERE!


from Lewis Lease, Programs Evaluator
For 9 weeks between June 24 and August 19, 2013, Art from Ashes facilitators led 8 Phoenix Rising poetry and spoken word workshops and 8 Casting Shadows creative play and theater workshops with 31 unduplicated youth participants for a total of 71 youth contacts at Rainbow Alley, a drop-in center for LGBTQ kids in downtown Denver.

LGBTQ youth are well-documented as a group of young people with a particularly high incidence of suicide and depression (Almeida, J., Johnson, R.M., Corliss, H.L., [2008]. Emotional Distress Among LGBT Youth: The Influence of Perceived Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, vol. 38, 1001-1014.). One protective factor against suicidality in adolescents is developing social connectedness, including increasing the number of trusted adults in contact with youth (Wyman, P.A., Hendricks Brown, C., LoMurray, M., (2010). An Outcome Evaluation of the Sources of Strength Suicide Prevention Program Delivered by Adolescent Peer Leaders in High Schools. American Journal of Public Health, vol 100, No. 9, 1653-1661.)

Youth participants in the workshops were asked to write down what change they saw in their life as a result of this program. One young person responded, "More connection with my community." Another replied, "More open and trusting with others, more confidence, motivation." Asked what they liked best about coming to the workshops, one of these respondents stated, "That you don't feel awkward at all and forget other things," while one more youth responded "I like seeing all the other people that like to come as well."

Art from Ashes gives struggling young people the opportunity to creatively express their inner being, to connect to caring adults and like-minded youth, and to transform themselves and their perceptions—discarding identities that are rooted in victimhood and forging a reality based in empowerment.

To support Art from Ashes youth programs, click HERE!


from Rick Strandlof, Social Media Coordinator (& so much more!)
Social Media Initiative :: We continue to roll out AfA social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Youtube, and Instagram. We have a social media intern, Shiloh Michels, who is really good with this. As a young person and consequently a digital native, she has really done a stellar job at engaging different segments of AfA's constituent demographics. She has done SO well in fact, that since interning here, she has been offered a job by a company to manage their social media efforts.

AfA Website :: Sean Mahoney and I are making major progress on formatting content for the 2014 site revamp. We acquired the services of a site design professional and are in the process of detailing a timeline for updated website rollout.

10th Anniversary Year of Celebration :: Timeline of events, release of poetry anthology ebook, 10th anniversary report production and campaign messaging underway!

Review of Agency Printed Collateral :: Assessment of continuity, message and design underway. AfA would love the help of a graphic design and content professional to assist. Please contact me at rick@artfromashes.org or fill out a volunteer application!

Communications Plan :: In further developing an agency communications plan, we recently acquired professional assistance. James Wall, Principal at Agency 33, and Sabine Kortals, former Rocky Mountain News/The Denver Post editor and reporter and Principle at Sabine Ink, have offered to help with writing, compilation and implementation of the plan.


meet Aimee
"Hello! My name is Aimee Eddins and I'm super jazzed to be stepping up my involvement in Art from Ashes this fall. Just last month, I started supporting Catherine by taking on Executive Assistant responsibilities. It's great fun to organize (anything from email to meetings, brainstorms to project collaborations) and I'm happy to be using my super-powers of organization and creating-efficiency for the good of AfA. By continuing to be an active volunteer helping with database upkeep and as a co-facilitator, I get to support the agency and the amazing youth we work with in many ways.

"I bring an exciting array of talents and skills to AfA. My training and work in: Mechanical Engineering, facilitation, Non-Violent Communication, and various dance disciplines meld into a glorious fusion of a perspective on life. I love coming to work here at AfA, getting to be myself, and interacting with all the personalities that make this agency what it is.

"Please consider making a donation today. With your help we can empower even more Youth to change their lives and their communities for the better!"
Donate through ColoradoGives.org


AfA youth poet wins prestigious mayor's award

The Mayor's Youth Award (formerly known as the Metropolitan Mayors and Commissioners Youth Awards) honors teenagers between the ages of 13 and 19 who have overcome difficult situations in their lives. The award seeks to recognize and support young people who have made positive changes and exhibited strength and determination in the face of adversity. At the end of 2012, Reid, on behalf of AfA, nominated Prinjastin "PJ" Sykes for the 2013 Award. Lo and behold (though not surprisingly), PJ was selected as an award recipient!

As many of you know, PJ has been with Art from Ashes for three years. He first participated in the Phoenix Rising workshops while in a residential treatment center and is now a facilitator, a guest poet and a youth representative on the board of directors. This young man is rockin' the world, and we're so glad others see that, too!

Award recipients are determined through a nomination and selection process to recognize 30 young people at a ceremony with the Mayor in the spring of each year. The Community College of Denver provides scholarships and support for each recipient.


hunt alternatives fund–3G & and the Apostrophe factor
AfA's newest program offering for business professionals is funded by a 3-year startup grant from the Hunt Alternatives Fund-3G (see below). Click here to find out why transformational writing can change the culture of your business and enhance productivity and teamwork!

Hunt Alternatives Fund logo The Hunt Alternatives Fund was established in Denver in 1981 with the purpose of advancing innovative and inclusive approaches to social change at local, national, and global levels. The 3rd Generation Foundation of the Hunt Alternatives Fund designated a 3-year funding cycle for Art from Ashes to institute a revenue-generating arm to provide creative workshops for corporations and businesses. These workshops will focus on techniques that exercise the creative right brain in order to increase productivity and communication in the workplace. All revenue generated will support our youth programs. Stay tuned for more information as we launch our newest program in 2013!

colorado gives day!
24 Hours to Give Where You Live

Please support Art from Ashes on Colorado Gives Day through ColoradoGives.org! Providing support through this site anytime until 11.59 pm on December 10th, allows us to benefit from an incentive fund provided by FirstBank and Community First Foundation. Just select the button "Schedule a donation for Colorado Gives Day 12/10/2013" when donating.

Donate online any time during the 24 hour period of December 10 to "give where you live!"

FREE adult mini-workshop on creativity!

Starting October 2013, you can try out our Phoenix Rising workshop prompts at Art from Ashes every First Friday from 6 to 7 pm. Then pop around the corner, and watch our youth perform their poetry.* Fun! And Free! (Although don't be surprised if we suggest a $10 donation to provide youth stipends for our wonderful young poets... just sayin'.) *
Youth performances are at Denver Art Society at 734 Santa Fe Dr. at 7 pm and just up the street at 7:30 the youth perform again at I Can Jam Studios in the Colorado Arts Center on 841 Santa Fe Dr.

Please contact the office vie email at info@artfromashes.org or by phone at 303.837.1550 ahead of time due to space limitations. Read more about our Adult Workshops.


:: Board Retreat 2013 :: Tragedy 2012 :: Friends of Beanstalk
:: Holiday Letter 2012 :: AfA Featured on 9News
:: Groupon Grassroots! :: SAMHSA Grant :: KOOL105 Radio Interview
:: Human Rights Award :: AfA's TV Commercial :: Archived Articles

2013 board/staff retreat
From Adam Speirs, Board President, Art from Ashes
Strategic retreats are pretty good for re-establishing long held positions and shoring up foundations. Even more so when the location of the retreat is such that long views and clear air support strong, collaborative thinking. We are especially blessed by the generosity of the Hunt Family, who provides Art from Ashes the opportunity to focus exclusively on the organization, its structure, and future for a few days each year at the Columbine Ranch on Kenosha Pass, and each year, we come away invigorated, retrenched, and ready to build.

This year our focus was on developing a deep understanding of the organizational structures of Art from Ashes, and how those structures interplay with the communities the Board of Directors represents. From our core workshops to our financial system, we took apart the most basic components, to re-assemble and understand them as parts of the whole, with an eye toward future agility in team response and decision making. The Board and Staff at Art from Ashes have always been well-equipped to reach consensus and move the organization forward, but now, I believe, we have the knowledge required for the kind of leap-forward creativity that has become a necessity in our current political and economic climate.

Thankfully, the strong community support Art from Ashes has always been afforded continues to protect the organization, and we can look forward to developing new ways to best meet the needs of our community stakeholders despite the challenges facing the non profit world throughout the nation. I have been, and remain, a steadfast community supporter of Art from Ashes, and thank you for being the same.

Best regards,
Adam Speirs
Board President, Art from Ashes

AfA recipient of a 2012 SAMHSA grant
samhsa logo Art from Ashes has received a national grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. SAMHSA noted that "Art from Ashes implements the Phoenix Rising Poetry and Spoken Word curriculum to guide youth participants through a process whereby they may alter their own perceptions of trauma and the difficulty experienced in their lives, choosing instead an identity based on the power of creativity, self-expression, and resilience, rather than victimization."

Letter from the Executive Director :: 12.17.12

Like many of you, I spent my weekend going through a normal routine of family time, work, shopping, and cleaning—all underscored by grief and confusion.

The slaughter of children has caused many different reactions—debates about gun control, demands for adequate mental health services, and a desperate gratitude for the precious people in our lives—all of which spring from the same well of profound sorrow and outrage.

In addition, Colorado lost a great man, award-winning poet, and revered teacher with the unexpected passing of CU professor Jake Adam York, who died suddenly this weekend at the young age of 40. This is a blow not only to the family and friends who loved him but to the literary community of which he was such an integral part, and a shock to our already grief-stricken hearts.

So here we all are in the midst of a noisy holiday season: nonprofits campaigning for support, businesses vying for patronage, politicians taking stances, Facebook replete with arguments, laments, and diatribes.

But there is a soft hum in our souls, somewhere below the cacophony, if we listen closely enough: hope. The holidays may seem twisted into something unrecognizable, but there is always that slow and steady hum of hope. Those of us who work with young people -- many of whom have also been twisted into something unrecognizable -- can hear that hope in the words of their poems, can see that hope in their eyes when we applaud them, can feel that hope in a hug or the touch of their hand when they thank us for really listening.

Many will go through this and every holiday season with a new silence in their lives. But we can still bring hope to one another and to the young ones in our midst who have spent their lives isolated and afraid. We can bring hope to them and recover some of the magic of this season, and continue to fight for that magic throughout the year.

I'm including links to two poems that have lifted me up during the horror of recent events. One is a spoken word piece by Aaron Freeman you can read here on our Facebook page; one is a spoken word piece performed by Derrick Brown on YouTube. I also offer stories of two young men in our program who found their way out of despair and hopelessness and into a place of power through their words (their stories are contained in the Holiday Letter below).

Be blessed. Be a blessing.

Catherine O'Neill Thorn


The power of our program is best expressed through the life-changing stories of our youth. One of the many such lives impacted by our unique Phoenix Rising poetry and spoken word program, is 18-year-old Khalid. We first met Khalid at the Denver Rescue Mission in 2009. He and his family were having a rough time and thankfully, DRM brought our program in for the youth of the homeless families staying at this wonderful organization. Khalid asked to be an intern at AfA following his participation in our program.

He has stayed with us for the past three years as a youth performer and office assistant, has begun working at Rainbow Alley, has now graduated from high school, and is starting a music studio!

Phoenix Rising provides a series of workshops focused on the importance of using words to reflect hope and possibility despite negative experiences or circumstances. An excerpt from one of Khalid's poems expresses just that:

You, you gave me the voice I've always had.
It was you who showed me
how much power my voice holds within,
how I could truly change someone's life with every syllable
or just a sentence.
There are many words I could use
to describe to how you have always inspired me
to mold myself into the person
you always knew I was inside.
So much appreciation for you I will always have
but I'll start by simply saying "thank you."

Khalid also wrote to us, "If it weren't for Art from Ashes and what you do, I wouldn't have had this confidence to record music and just put myself out there. I wouldn't be brave to be myself. So thank you for helping me find myself and allowing me to be myself."

While this story is unique to Khalid, there are so many youth we've served over the past 9 years who have experienced a similar transformation from the ashes of their negative circumstances and experiences to their awareness of creativity and renewed hope. Our curriculum continues to guide a variety of struggling young people as it has for the past 20 years: from students who survived the tragic shooting at Columbine to homeless youth, our work is making a difference in the lives of young people who are struggling with despair, hopelessness, and fear. Our programs have since been enhanced to incorporate a younger population, as well as adults and business professionals, as the demand for our services increases. Studies confirm the efficacy of our work with any population, but working with the youth in our community who are at risk remains the focus and inspiration for everything we do.

Speaking of studies, we received a federal grant this year to identify our work as an evidence-based intervention program through the arts. Here's some of that evidence:

If you include the percentages for "most of the time" in those numbers, the results are even more impressive among youth arts organizations! Your donation will not only help us continue our current work, but gives us the opportunity to reach more young people like Khalid who need the support and motivation that Art from Ashes provides. And if you donate on Colorado Gives Day, for 24-hours on Dec. 4 your donation will be increased by an incentive fund!

Thank you again for your support this year. Art from Ashes could not change the lives of as many young people without generous contributions from donors like you. Please feel free to contact me at cait@artfromashes.org or by calling 303.837.1550 if you want any more information. For those of you in the area who can make our holiday party at Appaloosa Grill on Dec. 4, please see the inserted postcard and be sure to save the date!

All our best for this holiday season and the New Year!

Kind Regards,

Catherine O'Neill Thorn, Executive Director

PS. For those of you who received last year's letter, here's a brief update on PJ, the young man in treatment who changed his life through the recognition of his creative power. PJ graduated high school and currently attends Emily Griffith opportunity school. He's in the ROTC and is actively involved with Art from Ashes as a youth performer, guest artist at other youth workshops, and youth representative on the board of directors. PJ has told his story before hundreds of people on stage and on the radio. As he says, "Art from Ashes unleashed the power of my heart by standing with me in a time of need. Art from Ashes changed my life, and I'm in it for life."

(To read last year's letter to find out more about PJ, click here.)


groupon grassroots a success!
Groupon Grassroots is a community outreach initiative within Groupon that brings people together to do good and create positive change in their community. Thanks to everyone who contributed to our Groupon Grassroots campaign! We were able to draw the 150 contributions that was our goal! These donations, along with matching contributions from Art from Ashes board members, will allow us to provide 10 workshops this summer at The Spot. Our Phoenix Rising program has been running at The Spot since 2003, and this campaign has allowed us to continue to provide local young people a safe place to stake a claim on their creative identities through poetry and art.

You can still donate to this program by clicking the Donate Now button on the left and adding your two cents (or any amount ) through ColoradoGives.org
Click here to read more about our workshops at The Spot.


save The Spot redux!
When we thought funding had run out for our workshops at The Spot, the youth spoke out. Watch this 2-minute video and hear how the Phoenix Rising poetry and spoken word program, now in its eighth year at The Spot, changed Kevin Person's life. You can also read Kevin's moving essay, Phoenix Heart, by clicking here or by downloading the pdf.

Kevin Person Thank you to the Cleveland Foundation and Urban Peak for funding AfA July 2011 through July 2012. Our Groupon Grassroots Campaign (above) gave us another few months of workshops, Sisters of Saint Francis sponsored three workshops, and Circle of Light Photo Project sponsored another two. Recently, a grant from Colorado Creative Industries funded workshops through September 2013! Please help us finish up 2013 through the holidays by donating $2500 for an 8-week series of workshops.

Donate through ColoradoGives.org

2011/2012 grants awarded
CLICK HERE for more information on additional grants awarded

Amanda Prince AfA intern extraordinaire
Our amazing and beautiful Amanda Prince has been a Safe City intern with Art from Ashes for 3 years. She graduated last year from CEC Middle College of Denver and was named a 2011 Daniels Scholar to receive funding to attend the college or university of her choice. This honor is given annually to high school seniors who have demonstrated strong character and a determination to succeed in life... that's certainly our Amanda, who has over the years become an integral part of our agency.

Not only has she written beautiful poetry in our workshops, she is now a youth representative on the Board of Directors. Amanda wrote a beautiful essay (read it!) about the impact Art from Ashes has had on her life.

She couldn't be more deserving of the honor, based on the criteria of the Fund: "These are promising and motivated students who have demonstrated strong character, leadership, and a commitment to community service," explained Linda Childears, president and CEO of the Daniels Fund. "They are outstanding young people and the Daniels Fund is proud to partner with them as they fulfill their dreams of attending college."

To identify candidates for the scholarship, the Daniels Fund partners with high schools, youth serving agencies and college prep providers that nominate candidates for the Daniels Scholarship. After being nominated, candidates take part in an interview and selection process in the communities in which they live.

Cable pioneer Bill Daniels, a prominent business leader known for his kindness and generosity to those in need, established the Daniels Fund to provide grants and scholarships in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. Daniels was seeking promising students who demonstrate strength of character, leadership, and a record of accomplishment in giving back to the community. Visit www.danielsfund.org for more information.

Garman Foundation logo garman foundation supports AfA
Cartel Noir Invitation Greg Garman, founder of Cartel Noir, an international clothing line, introduced his fall collection on September 30th, 2010 at the Museum of Contemporary Art. He also introduced the newly-established Garman Foundation, created with his brother Michael and his father Randy, as a way to best contribute to worthy charities and causes. The primary idea of the Foundation is to funnel funds raised by events such as the inaugural party immediately to worthy groups in need. The first beneficiary the Garmans selected is Art from Ashes, an organization that, in their words, is "a very well run and worthy cause." At the event, 100 limited edition silk scarves with the Cartel Noir logo were sold for $150 each to raise funds. If you would like to purchase a scarf, please contact Art from Ashes.

All of our gratitude goes out to the Garman Foundation and the wonderful family that started it!


the power of words exemplified
Giovanni at Art from Ashes As the saying goes, "no good deed goes unpunished." Giovanni's story is one of struggle and victory. He began his Art from Ashes journey four years ago as a deeply troubled 21 year old who was actively being recruited by a gang. The Phoenix Rising workshops at The Spot appealed to him, and through his poetry he was empowered. Giovanni found a great deal of hope in his voice.

As a youth poet, Giovanni excelled. His poetry is poignant; clear and concise with a genuineness you can feel. He spoke before thousands of people—yes, thousands—including an appearance at the Denver Convention Center before 5,000 people, with Mayor John Hickenlooper and First Lady, Jeannie Ritter in attendance.

Giovanni transitioned from a youth participant to train and become an Art from Ashes Facilitator. He worked with youth, particularly bilingual groups, and with his sensitivity and compassion he encouraged other youth in similarly desperate circumstances that through the power of their voice and minds, they could accomplish anything.

In addition to being an instrumental member of our team, Giovanni is a fantastic musician with several CDs bearing his by-line. He also volunteered at the Denver Community Center and discovered his talent for fisticuffs (that's fancy-speak for boxing!). He earned local recognition as a Golden Gloves winner and was set to break new ground with his first official professional boxing match this coming November in Las Vegas.

But, as we said, not all stories end as we hope. As a result of a routine traffic violation, it was found that Giovanni, who relocated with his parents to America from Guatemala at the age of one, is not lawfully a citizen of the United States. He has been held for six months in a detention center, and numerous people in the community were advocating for his release, including Art from Ashes staff and volunteers, his boxing coach, his family (although his mom and dad weren't allowed in the detention center or in court), his friends and attorney Brett Davis, our neighbor who worked diligently to free Giovanni. Giovanni was deported last week—to a country where he knew no one, had no means of livelihood and no place to live. Our government generously provided him with two shirts, two pairs of pants, and a pair of shoes with which to start his new life, away from everything he's ever known.

We could hang our heads and consider this setback a tragedy—Giovanni's trajectory seemed finally on a steady rise—and it would be easy to do so. But that's not how he looked at life. He'd see the community rallying behind him; the pro bono services of Brett Davis, esq. and the efforts of Art from Ashes to keep him in the country, the calls of "We Love You" in the courtroom, the letters, the reaching out to the Guatemalan community to ease his transition to his native country as a victory. So should we.

At his hearing, the judge asked Giovanni why so many people were in the courtroom to support him. Giovanni's answer was simple..."They have faith in me."

Yes. We do.

...Going with the current, not against it
Live a day at a time
don't worry 'bout your future
worry about today
about what to accomplish...
Just keep dreaming
my voice tells me.
Don't hope—hopes are for those who wait.
Follow and you will catch it;
seek it and you will find it.
Have faith,
and at the end of the world it will await.
Free your mind,
and you will go between extreme imagination
finding new creations.

—by Giovanni Lopez

To help other struggling youth, we encourage you to contribute so our future can hold more successful youth like Giovanni.
Donate through ColoradoGives.org


Rinu on First Friday The Art from Ashes family mourns the loss of one of our youth poets. Andrea "Rinu" Scherer succumbed to the streets after an attack one week before her 21st birthday. Rinu regularly attended the Phoenix Rising poetry workshops at the Spot and had recently moved off the streets into transitional housing. She needed to report to a judge once a week, and each week she presented him with a poem she had written. Her life seemed to be improving, which makes the news of her death that much more troubling. We wish Rinu's family well in their moment of grief and we thank Tina Griego for illustrating the love Rinu received from her family and friends. Tina wrote two articles about the tragedy, featured in The Denver Post, CLICK HERE for "Streets Kid Didn't Wander Alone" or download a pdf; CLICK HERE to read "Radiance Stills the Crowd Gathered Around Grim."
Rest In Peace Rinu

There is at least one hopeful consequence of Rinu's untimely death: Art from Ashes is even more committed to providing a drop-in youth center for young people to engage in transformational creative arts programs as they need us. Our intention is to name this center the Rinu Transformation Center for Creative Arts.

Please donate below to support our work with young people in our community.
Donate through ColoradoGives.org


Poetry in Motion

Read the article, about Art from Ashes youth poet Dominic Perez:
Young poets' work to hit the streets
Buses to display writing again as part of Poetry in Motion program

By Annette Espinoza, The Denver Post

Marie-beforeMarie-after Art from Ashes director wins the Readers' Choice vote from thousands of national finalists Denver - March 2009
Marie Verrett, our own Director of Operations, was chosen from among thousands of applicants nationwide not only for her physical beauty, but for her description of the work she does for Art from Ashes. The pool of top ten models was chosen by readers and editors of "AARP The Magazine."

AARP The Magazine featured its top models in its March and April 2009 editions titled "Why do you represent the face of 50+?"

Marie's description of her dedication to Art from Ashes and her transition from board member to full-time volunteer staff at a grassroots agency working with a high-risk population was considered inspirational enough to confirm her as a national winner.

Before volunteering at Art from Ashes, she was a decorated officer with 23 years with the U.S. Air Force. [read her bio]

AARP The Magazine launched the Faces of 50+ model search in 2005 to show that beauty and style don't expire at any age.

Link to the AARP press release or read The Denver Post article.


Thanks to Steve Sande of Raven Solutions, a Mac expert and new donor of in-kind services, for including us in his blog on "Pay It Forward" Click here to read it.

VIRGINIA TECH TRAGEDY by Catherine O'Neill Thorn (April 2007)
Because of my work with Columbine students after that shooting, BBC World News called to discuss the impact of violent acts such as these on young people and the ways in which poetry helped them. One of the Columbine survivors, Devon Adams, joined me to discuss the effect our poetry writing workshops had on her healing process (click to hear the BBC interview).
CLICK HERE for the rest of the article...

ALWAYS A NEW BLESSING! by Catherine O'Neill Thorn (April 2007)
Here's a challenging one. Our building at 1535 Grant St. was recently purchased and the new owners want to bring the offices up to marketable value—as well as the rents. A large portion of our rent had been donated for the past three years by realtor Jim Smith, the previous owner. We're being asked to provide three times more a month (from $300 to $900!) starting in six weeks!
CLICK HERE for the rest of the article...

THE POWER OF PERCEPTION by Catherine O'Neill Thorn (March 2007)
Early in March someone broke into our office and stole our computer...A new computer (MacBookPro) would have cost us $3,000. That's hard to spend when $2,400 pays for an 8-workshop program for 20 youth. But we trusted that something wonderful would come of it, and you can probably tell from the past tense, that it did.
CLICK HERE for the rest of the article...



Art from Ashes considered one of the top 50 youth arts organizations in nation

AfA was named a Finalist for the prestigious President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities 2013 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award. In the certificate from the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities, Art from Ashes is noted as "one of the top arts and humanities-based programs in the country." The President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities "bridges the interests of federal agencies and the private sector, supports special projects that increase participation and excellence in the arts and humanities and helps incorporate these disciplines into White House objectives under our Honorary Chairperson First Lady Michelle Obama."

From all of us here at Colorado Creative Industries, congratulations on being named a Finalist for the prestigious President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities 2013 National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award.

We are proud to have supported your wonderful work over the years!

Best, Sheila Sears
Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, Creative Industries Division

Below is a [30-minute] speech at the White House by First Lady on the important benefits, not only to our youth, but to everyone on the importance of arts programs for young people.

Art from Ashes receives 2012 human rights award
Diversity Award Art from Ashes received the cherished award from the Cherry Creek Diversity Conference for our efforts to create a diverse and inclusive society! The award is presented annually to an organization that best exemplifies "Hard Work and Dedication in Promoting the Ideals of Peace, Unity and Understanding for the Youth of Colorado." More than 1,000 teenagers from over 90 Colorado high schools and youth organizations gather every February to celebrate diversity and to strategize on developing a safe and welcoming learning environment across the state's high schools and communities.

Beanstalk Logo

we're friends of Beanstalk!
Check out the blog, featuring Art from Ashes and other great organizations doing good work in our community!

Read this amazing article about AfA and information about Catherine O'Neill Thorn, founder and executive director of Art from Ashes, and a Beanstalk "Neighborhood Hero."

:: download the article as a pdf

International Women's Day logo international women's day award
Art from Ashes Executive Director Catherine O'Neill Thorn was a keynote speaker at the International Women's Day Conference on March 7th and 8th. International Women's Day is sponsored by the Women's Information Network and was the largest gathering of women in the history of the world (176 countries). Catherine spoke on Women and Power: How words transform our reality. She also was presented with an Outstanding Service Award, for outstanding leaders who perform at the highest level in her career and community and who help other women excel!

BCAALL LogoIn 2010 Art from Ashes was chosen by the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) as their community outreach organization in Denver. Each year the AALL researches different non-profit organizations in the host city of its annual meeting and selects one group for their outreach.

Catherine O‘Neill Thorn2008 MasterMind Award for Literary Arts.
...Art From Ashes has shown itself deserving of a MasterMind award. But Thorn insists that the real brains are the people her organization serves. "We know that arts are intrinsically healing, but Art from Ashes goes one step beyond that,‘ she says. "There is a cathartic process, where kids use poetry to talk about their pain and their rage. They listen to each other's poems and find out that they're not as isolated as they thought... We believe in the power of words, because words create and because these kids are creative geniuses. We lead them to a place where they start to create a different reality for themselves." —Amber Taufen, Westword
photo by Mark Manger

Westword's Best of Denver 2007 award for Best Therapeutic Poetry Organization
"Life isn't always easy for the young. And high-risk youth whose lives are impacted by violence, drugs and alcohol sometimes don't have the opportunity to find their voices or learn to express themselves. To combat that, Art From Ashes collaborates with other youth-service organizations to offer poetry and spoken-word workshops for kids who are homeless, incarcerated, in the court system or residing in treatment centers or just urban settings. Art From Ashes encourages emotional catharsis and expression through writing therapy, giving kids their voices before they lose them forever."

The Pan African Arts Society awarded Catherine O'Neill Thorn, executive director of Art from Ashes, the 2006 Community "Artivist" Award for "years of consistent commitment to the urban art scene in the Denver Metro area." Awards are presented to organizations and individuals who "work to encourage and support arts education, personal creativity and community engagement."


Watch our updated 4-minute video produced by award-winning documentarian Rachel Julkowski
:: 2012 Video on YouTube
:: Shine 2008 Low Res (small file)
:: Shine 2008 High Res (large file)
or check Shine out on YouTube!

We're in the Flobots video :: RISE!
Flobots RISE! video
Jonny 5 and Brer Rabbit have been guest poets at Art from Ashes workshops and Jonny 5 also is a trained facilitator. When they produced their RISE! video, Denver nonprofit organizations with which Flobots had worked were included in the making of it. Art from Ashes is featured toward the end (after Mackenzie's solo).
Check it out here: Flobots :: Rise!

Watch an interview with Executive Director Catherine O'Neill Thorn, Program Director Lindsey Wise, and Youth Poet Chance Two Crow, produced by CNTV

Youth poets at The Spot, the Phoenix Rising poetry program in collaboration with Urban Peak, were featured on Channel 9 News at 10 February 21, 2010. Click the image below to go to the video, or CLICK HERE to read the article online or if you're having trouble viewing the video below.


mscd logoMetropolitan State College is featuring Art from Ashes in a 30-second commercial on channels 9 and 7. As a graduate, Catherine O'Neill Thorn talks about how instrumental her experience at Metro was in preparing her to help young people find their voice.
Watch the commercial!
mscd commercial


Art from Ashes was featured on a July 8, 2009 KBDI panel on youth homelessness with Urban Peak and Volunteers of America. Tamara Banks, host of KBDI's Studio 12, interviewed our own Catherine O'Neill Thorn, executive director; Robert Ham and Andrew McClure of Urban Peak; and Sheila Rae Stephens of VOA. Read the YourHub.com article here or download either the YourHub.com article or the KBDI article.


The Daniel's Fund featured Art from Ashes as the nonprofit of the month for July, 2012, by arranging an interview on KOOL105 FM!
:: LISTEN to the interview with Catherine O'Neill Thorn and youth poet Prinjastin Sykes, broadcast by Wilks Broadcasting-Denver on stations KIMN, KXKL, KWOF Mix100, KOOL105, and 92.5 The Wolf.
:: LISTEN to an interview with Catherine O'Neill Thorn and youth poet Chance Two Crow on January 3, 2010 on Entercom Radio's four Denver stations: KALC Alice 105.9 FM, KEZW 1430 AM, KQMT The Mountain 99.5 FM and KOSI 101 FM.
:: LISTEN to our interview with BBC World News following the Virginia Tech tragedy (featuring Devon Adams, Columbine student and participant of the transformational poetry workshops 1999-2003)
:: LISTEN to a KGNU radio interview with Catherine O'Neill Thorn about the August 2007 First Friday Art Walk performance
:: LISTEN to a 2006 KGNU radio interview with Catherine O'Neill Thorn about Art from Ashes therapeutic workshops

:: 2009 Examiner.com Art from Ashes was featured in an online magazine article by Zack Kopp
:: 2004 Denver Post article about our work at The Spot
:: 2004 Denver Radio article
:: 2003 Rocky Mountain News article by Tina Griego
:: 2000 Rocky Mountain News article on Columbine High School workshops

Please refer to our YOUTH WORKSHOPS page for a listing of workshops and presentations.

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