At Art from Ashes, we believe in the creative power of youth to change our world for the better, to bring communities together, and to transform themselves and others. That’s what drives us to work hard every day. It’s our Why.

The magic of what we do is that while we’re a small agency, we have large hearts supporting us. Our team includes teachers, program managers, caseworkers, donors, parents and volunteers. They believe in youth, too — and they know that when people join together to care for one another, communities heal and grow.

Share your Why with Art from Ashes.

  • Become a volunteer, board member or train to be a youth facilitator.
  • Make a donation to help struggling youth transform their stories and our community through their creative genius.
  • And as you gather together over the holidays, please share our work with your friends and family.

Here are the Why’s of others to inspire you.

Karen MullenaxMelinda DriscollRachel IcolariTheo Wilson

Abby Fanara, Volunteer

At a baseball game, Catherine told me casually, “You know, some say there’s a spiritual component to giving.” So for brevity’s sake, that is the selfish portion behind my “why” for volunteering with AfA. It is good for my spirit. The other reason that I choose to serve AfA, and devote my time to this particular organization, is my belief and AfA’s belief that youth have so much to offer the world and so much to tell us. AfA believes in the young people of Denver and that they deserve support, space, and resources to express themselves freely, thoughtfully, and critically through art.

AfA pays their artists and youth performers. Through my experiences with local artists and with non profits, I’ve come to understand that paying your artists, especially as a non-profit, is a very intentional and thought-out choice. By paying their artists AfA shows us that it is right to value the importance, vulnerability and sacrifice that come with creating and sharing art. Paying young artists (and artists of any age) encourages them and validates the importance of their voice. In addition to putting on performances, AfA hosts free writing workshops for Denver youth and provides materials and facilitation to young writers. One of my favorite poets described the writing process like catching a moving train, ideas move so quickly through the mind that if you don’t write them down in time, they’re gone. Pens, pencils, and notebooks matter.

I believe that art is an instrument of change and that words have power, and I think a lot of us would agree that we are in dire need of words of change. Who better to offer us a fresh perspective than our young people? When I give to AfA, I know it’s about more than keeping the lights on, it’s about empowering youth through creative expression, and that’s just the beginning.

Adriel Long, Board Member

Transitioning from a child to a young adult is a chaotic experience especially if the youth has lived through trauma. AfA’s creative workshops are a safe space for youth to express themselves, find and explore their own creativity and voice, and provide the community support marginalized youth need to participate fully in their own personal, social, and cultural growth. When we support marginalized youth in navigating that transition and in becoming empowered, we’re supporting our community by leaving it a better place than we found it.