Happy Season of Light! Here’s our annual holiday letter for those of you who didn’t receive one in the mail. If you’d like to be included in our annual mailing, please sign up below.

This year the letter was in panels, so we’ve put images for you to see individually (which was the way it was printed) and included the text below.

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Dear Friends,

2020 has been a year of challenges, triumphs, and throwing away all expectations for what each day will bring. 2020 also has been a year of resilience and steadfast commitment to our mission and our youth participants. Throughout this year, Art from Ashes has been resilient in overcoming the challenges of our new reality because of the generosity and financial support of our family of donors and supporters like you. Over the past 17 years, your support has been invaluable to Art from Ashes and the youth who participate in our workshops.

This year, your financial support and gifts of time and resources have made it possible for Art from Ashes to continue empowering youth by helping us reimagine our award-winning Phoenix Rising curriculum with virtual prompts, by making possible the creation and shipment of over 100 writing kits to youth who don’t have access to the Internet, and by supporting our new Youth Ambassador program that facilitates youth in gaining leadership skills while giving them a platform to express their truth in an affirming space.

We hope you will consider donating in support of Art from Ashes again this year so we can continue providing creative empowerment programs for our community’s young people now and well into the future.
Wishing you and yours health and safety.

Adriel Long, President of the Art from Ashes Board of Directors

Happy end of 2020 (almost!)

It was a tough year if you enjoy hugs, safety, travel, interaction, events, YOUTH WORKSHOPS, and…yeah, those hugs. [On a personal note, I do owe my thanks to Zoom for helping me break those “let’s just get together for coffee” patterns when setting meetings.]

Although we can speak all the positives we want, it has been rough for us all and literally deadly for many. The young people we serve just don’t have the lifelines they once had—including the ones that connected them to us and to opportunities for healing through art—which is beyond heartbreaking.

And still we dance, sing, write, tell stories, connect with one another and with the youth…and heal. It’s considerably healthier than social media and way more joyful. While we haven’t been able to do business as usual, we have nevertheless found a way to support the youth and each other through our workshops. Because of generous individuals and businesses, as well as amazing funders who got the urgency of our work and the need for flexibility, we kept our staff together and have managed to serve youth virtually through workshops, and hold online performances and events.

That’s a miracle. Those things we can celebrate. So we do. And we will—together. Because the ONLY reason Art from Ashes exists is to serve. We’ve been doing it faithfully for 17 years and with your (virtual) arms around us, we will continue to do so through dark times. There’s that hug. Let’s keep going.

Catherine O’Neill Thorn, Art from Ashes Executive Director

phoenix rising logoThis Season of Light is so important because young people need us more than ever…

Art from Ashes began 2020 like we have for many years; we hosted on-site workshops for youth on Wednesdays and First Fridays. We facilitated workshops at partner locations including schools, community centers, and youth conferences and summits. Young people regularly attended events and performed their poems in front of hundreds of people.

When classes were canceled and events were postponed, like everyone else we were scrambling for ways to continue serving. AfA is used to finding creative solutions to whatever life throws our way. But our program is deliberately designed to be interactive and individual—both the physical and emotional space created at Phoenix Rising workshops is sacred. When COVID-19 halted all workshops and events, we experienced a challenge we never imagined: completely redesigning a curriculum that at its heart is uniquely interpersonal. Many youth we serve were facing severe hardships before the pandemic began. Now, with a global health crisis, at a time of political upheaval, social reckoning, and increased economic hardship, they have been struggling without the comfort and connection that is such a vital part of the human experience. Governments have been issuing “Safer at Home” orders to protect our community from the virus, yet for many of our youth, home is not safe.

And still we rise…

During times of hardship, the world we wish to envision may not be the world we currently see. We encourage the suspension of disbelief because if there is one truth that AfA people know, it is that the story we tell ourselves about the current situation holds more power than the actual situation. GUESS WHAT?? The youth and adults who’ve taken our virtual creativity workshops have LOVED them! While we have not met any of the new youth in virtual workshops in person, our program continues to give them a voice. Not only do our transformational writing workshops continue to provide youth with a healthy outlet, some of them love the virtual setting, as they wrote when asked what they appreciated about the online Phoenix Rising workshops:
“I love the virtual setting.”
“I can share my writing with no judgement.”
“[I like best] the supportive culture and freedom to express.”

We are continuing our weekly Wednesday workshops and First Friday workshops as well as our long-term partnerships with Denver Online High School and Anythink Library, and we also have new partnerships with ACEConnect and El Sistema Colorado with more on the horizon! In 2021 our program will once again be added to school offerings, and several treatment/recovery centers are booking AfA creative empowerment workshops. We’re also conducting Zoom workshops for adults and providing writing prompts twice-weekly on social media.

Facilitating our programming virtually allows us to expand beyond the Denver Metro Area, invite guest artists to join in from all over the country, and give AfA youth poets an extensive amount of virtual performance opportunities—many of which they would not have been able to attend in person.

We are excited to see what the future holds, and ready to continue pivoting, twirling, and Zooming our way into the new year!
Our virtual workshops continue to provide expression, connection and transformation for youth!


a poem written in 3 minutes
by Pandora Trevino, Age 16
Denver Online High School
~ Youth Ambassador ~

My mind—a gray, dark place
with little specks of light shining through
red, a rosebud that never grew,
rigid in thought,
a mind plagued with thoughts,
thoughts of red,
a rose that never grew.
Under the surface is a me you don’t know,
a person who can shine and glow,
a lover not a loser, but one you don’t know.
Because all I show is a rose that never did grow.
True me can shine in the light, but I hide
under the shock of thunder.
True me you’ll never know,
but I do indeed know how to grow.


Art from Ashes is all about serving our youth and facilitating positive transformation through creative expression and empowerment. A young poet who speaks their truth grows into an adult unafraid to share their voice and convictions with the world. Donating to Art from Ashes brings you into that beautiful process, supporting young people as they discover their own power through spoken word. Mark your calendars for #GivingTuesday, Dec 1st—a global day of giving that packs a local punch.

We believe in the goodness of people, in the value of service, in the importance of giving. So this holiday season, on Colorado Gives Day Dec 8, we ask that you give with compassion for the young people we serve—so they can find their voice and their value through the creative process and the power of language. With each donation through the Colorado Gives Day website, we earn a portion of a $1 million incentive fund! You can schedule your gift to Art from Ashes today through 11.59 pm Tuesday, Dec. 8.

If you’re shopping for others this season, we’d love it if you’d consider purchasing something for the youth from our wish list. You’ll find some items we could really use with the QR code above or the link below. And if you shop online, GoodShop gives us a pretty nice percentage, plus you get discounts at more than 10,000 stores! If you’re into Amazon, smile.amazon.com donates 0.5% of eligible purchases (you’ll be asked to select Art from Ashes from the list the first time you use it).

COVID-19 isn’t stopping our annual Celebration of Light this season! We’ll be celebrating all that is light via Zoom (if you like the meet and greet experience) or live feed on social media. As usual, we’ll have performance poets, musicians, and door prizes, as well as our amazing youth poets, who always appreciate (and deserve) an audience. We hope you will join us and be that audience. It’s on Colorado Gives Day, Dec 8th from 7 to 8 pm. See you online!