Heart to Heart

A heart-to-heart conversation with Catherine O’Neill Thorn, inviting a response from our supporters.

Giving Tuesday logo

Giving Tuesday 2020

Mark your calendars to pack a local punch on Giving Tuesday, December 1st. Join donors from…


May 5, 2020 is a new international day for supporting nonprofits affected by the COVID-19 crisis— #GivingTuesdayNOW

Colorado State Tax ReFund

Ever think you’d hear exciting news about your taxes? Well check that off your bucket list…Now you can legally get creative with your taxes!

The Colorado Sun

Colorado Sun Article

Thank you to poet, activist and Art from Ashes board member Theo E.J. Wilson for this wonderful piece in The Colorado Sun!

The Colorado Sun

Poetry program helps inner city kids navigate their way past depression and suicidal thoughts


2018 Holiday Letter

Hopefully you can join us for the holiday party on the 4th (invitation below)!

Meanwhile, here’s what we have to share during this wonderful season of light:

(read the pdf of our 2018-Annual Request Letter or read text below)

Happy Holidays from Kumi!  

My name is Kumi, and I am 18 years old. This holiday season, I’d like to share my story of transformation with you.

Before Art from Ashes, I was just an empty shell named Kumi, and I had a degree in making bad decisions. Now I’m getting a different kind of degree at CCD, thanks in large part to Art from Ashes! 

I was full of creativity, hidden behind a door barred shut by my enemy Bipolar Disorder. I was frustrated, depressed, ecstatic, and powerless. Imagine trying to defeat a monster with only a bottle of pills, the wrong kind of friends, and bad love relationships. Doesn’t make much sense, right? 

But then Art from Ashes came to our Creative Writing class at Endeavor Academy. I was so excited about how easy it was to let out my creativity in the form of poetry. I didn’t really ever do much poetry before, so it was new and interesting…and soon it became my favorite thing to do. 

I finally had something new to fight my monster with and you better believe I felt empowered! I felt strong with my new weapon and confident in my new skills. I learned the power of my voice as I read my poetry to the people willing to listen, and I learned how to conquer my fears. And with Art from Ashes, I learned to help empower others, as well.

Art from Ashes was able to come to Endeavor Academy because of generous donations from community members just like you. I’d like to thank you for your support and ask that you please consider financially supporting Art from Ashes this holiday season so that more youth can experience empowerment and transformation through art and poetry.

—Kumi Avila, Youth Representative to the Art from Ashes Board of Directors

Here’s what your generous donation provides:

  • At Art from Ashes, we believe in paying artists! Your donation of $50 provides an honorarium for a guest poet or artist to inspire and motivate the young people in our workshops.
  • We spend more than $1000 a year providing an honorarium to youth who perform their poetry for the community! Any amount you designate can support that goal!
  • We believe in healthy food and LOTS of water for youth. Your donation of $50 will provide enough food and water for one 2-hour workshop for up to 20 young people! How many workshops would you like to support?
  • A monthly donation of $100 will provide writing and art materials for four of our weekly drop-in workshops, held every Wednesday (Phoenix Rising) and Thursday (Drawing on Air Creative Time).
  • A one-time gift of $2000 will support a year’s worth of weekly workshops for a struggling youth. 
  • A one-time gift of $5000 will provide the cost of an 8-workshop program for 20 youth ($15/hr. per youth), which would include operating costs as well as program expenses.
  • Of course, we would very much appreciate any amount you’re willing to donate!

Does your employer match your donation? Please let us know!

And we hope you’ll come to our Annual Celebration of Light Party on Colorado Gives Day, Dec 4th from 7 to 9 pm at Art from Ashes, 1310 west 10th ave, denver

Happy Season of Light from the board and staff of AfA! 

We hope you enjoyed Kumi’s powerful story of transformation. Stories like Kumi’s, and the stories we’ve heard from countless other young people over the years, remind us why we exist and inspire us to continue this important work. Colorado Gives Day is Tuesday, December 4th—a day that allows our generous donors to contribute towards that beautiful goal. During that 24-hour period your donation counts more than any other time.

Speaking of years…on October 10, Art from Ashes celebrated its 15th anniversary! That’s 15 years of young people discovering their creative genius through our unique and innovative programs. At Art from Ashes, we believe that by discovering their creativity, young people are empowered through art and poetry to find their voice, change their stories, and transform their lives. And as numerous studies and our own surveys have shown, it works.

In 2018, Art from Ashes experienced a few transformations as well:

  • AfA won the Mayor’s Award for Excellence in Arts and Culture! This prestigious award is given to organizations that make significant and lasting contributions in the City and County of Denver. What a great way to celebrate our 15th anniversary!
  • AfA merged with Violet Hive’s Art As Healing youth program, a nonprofit organization that shares our belief that art facilitates empowerment and healing. Founder of Violet Hive, Amy Leiter, joined the AfA staff; Bridget Hofstadter of Violet Hive is now our volunteer coordinator; and both are trained Phoenix Rising facilitators who have expanded our weekly Creative Time drop-in workshops!
  • Our programs and the work we do with youth in the community were highlighted on CBS4 and Fox Network, helping to send our message of hope and transformation to thousands of people.
  • AfA hosted and facilitated a workshop for the World Denver Iraqi Youth Delegation.
  • AfA has now partnered with more than 180 organizations to serve nearly 13,000 young people! 

In addition to our ongoing workshops in the community and weekly on-site workshops, young people have shared their stories and their voices at a number of events in 2018. Some of these events include monthly First Friday performances at AfA, the Mercury Café’s 30th Annual Poetry Rodeo, the Youth Voices in Recovery poetry performance, and AfA’s 9th Annual Running of the Gays. Additionally, two of our youth poets were featured at the 2018 Denver Women’s March, where they performed in front of thousands of people! 

Seeing the magic happen in workshops and watching the transformation of both youth and community members during performances and art shows re-ignites our passion for the work we do and leaves us energized for a groundbreaking future:

  • Next year Violet Hive artists and AfA staff will expand the Drawing on Air curriculum, which is built on the foundation of our award-winning Phoenix Rising program.
  • Of our existing trained facilitators, two are professional dancers interested in expanding and facilitating our Wingspan program, which we hope to launch by the end of 2019.

Our programs are magical, but we can’t soar without you. We hope you will help us meet our goal to serve even more youth in 2019. Please consider making a holiday contribution to provide creative empowerment workshops to the young people in our community.

With gratitude and joy,

The Art from Ashes staff, board, facilitators, contractors and volunteers

Catherine O’Neill Thorn, Celeste Seiler, Bridget Hofstadter, Sarah Lanzarotta, Samantha Albala, Savannah Arterburn, Tiffany Bowden, Amy Leiter, Marie Verrett, Carolyn Klier, Lewis Lease, Jessica Jarrard, Susie Martin, Johnnie Thorn, Kumi Avila, plus 63 interns, volunteers, and guest poets/artists!

PS. For those of you who have been supporting, praying for, and thinking of Catherine as she has journeyed through this difficult past year, you can find her medical update on our website here:

Catherine’s Cancer Treatment Update

Friends have made the difference between life and death.

Hi, there, friends of AfA!

It has been 14 months since my diagnosis of stage 3 breast cancer and it’s been a freaky, frightening, enlightening journey.

For those of you who want the short and sweet (and it is sweet):

Many of the initial test findings were incorrect (stage 2, HER2-negative, misplaced markers and an erroneous treatment plan), and over the course of several months, I was given numerous bad news bulletins from my incredible oncologist at CU Health: Turns out I was not stage 2 but stage 3, possibly stage 4 (turned out to be stage 3… phew!); I did, in fact, need four months of chemotherapy, plus surgery, plus six weeks of daily radiation; on top of that I tested as HER2-positive, not negative, which meant another year of infusions (currently in my 5th month!) and a lifetime supply of anti-cancer meds.

BOTTOM LINE: I am alive and cancer free!!

With the help of some awesome people (see the annual holiday letter for several of those names, but there were many, many more), I have continued to work throughout it all and managed to weather the resultant storms. It certainly has been quite a bit of work—fighting for my life and fighting to ensure the agency fulfills its mission takes some effort. Although AfA didn’t do as well as we could have financially, it also could have been a helluva lot worse if it weren’t for the people surrounding me with love and capably holding the agency.

Funders have been forgiving and helpful; donors have been loyal; the new staff members believe in our mission and walk the talk of kindness and compassion; facilitators faithfully serve the youth; board members and other volunteers have played a significant role in our success; the young people keep coming through the doors; and the stats remain impressive. Not only that, but we were just notified that we have won the 2018 Mayor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts! Pretty cool accomplishment after a pretty rough year.

For those of you who wish to know a few of our other accomplishments in 2018, please read our annual holiday letter, which gives a quick rundown of what we’ve been doing. In February when all the data is in, we’ll publish our annual report with more detailed information.

Thank you so much for your support of our agency, which helps me continue to fight for myself. I couldn’t do it without all the love I’ve received.

If you’d like to give a year-end gift, please do through ColoradoGives or Paypal Giving Fund ❤️

Here’s something I wrote for my friends recently when the struggle was seemingly ongoing:

A little more than a year ago I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. I’ve been wondering for the past several weeks what I wanted to say about that. Something to mark the anniversary of the day I realized I may not live the future I had imagined for myself—or may not have a future at all. I can’t settle on anything in particular other than to be grateful for all the love and support I’ve received in the past year and oddly to be grateful for those who couldn’t provide anything. Because I’ve learned a lot about relationships during this time. As someone who believes that relationships are the entire reason we’re on the planet, this has been quite the spiritual education.

So here’s what I am grateful for:

All the people who jumped in and did what they could to help me stay afloat while I was reeling from the news. 

All the people who came alongside me while I suffered through one painful treatment after another. 

All the people who sacrificed their time and their money to keep me alive (quite literally…staying alive is expensive). 

All the people who popped in and out with a word or a meal or a present or poem or gift of service. 

All those who left. And who were unkind. Because now I know. 

All those who did the REALLY difficult work of being with me when my mind was in despair. Because hanging out with someone who is angry or depressed or discouraged is usually harder than hanging out with someone who is physically ill. And I have been both at the same time. 

All those who helped keep Art from Ashes going when I wasn’t able to give as much as was needed.

All those who forgive me. 

And those who are still here. Who haven’t given up. Who continue to show up. Who realize my journey isn’t over and have not grown tired of being with me. You have taught me the most about how to be like Jesus in the world. Because I usually forget to do that myself, and it’s so much easier to see when you are the one in need.

By summer of 2019 I should be done with my treatment and my oncologist says I will have my energy back. I will always have pain and some difficult effects from the fight for my life, but he says he is pretty sure I’ll be cured at the end of all this. While nothing is certain, I can’t express enough how blessed I am for the role my friends—and the occasional stranger—have played in this life and death drama I found myself starring in. 

I will continue to fight. And I will continue to laugh. And I absolutely will continue to be a pain in the ass and do many things badly and do a few things right.

COGivesDay 2017

Colorado Gives Day is December 5th this year, and your donation carries even more weight because of a FirstBank incentive fund. We would love you to consider Art from Ashes youth as the beneficiaries of your generosity.

We’re also having a party at Art from Ashes between 6.30 and 9 pm that evening to celebrate our donors and youth and staff and board and volunteers and… well, everyone who has made AfA possible for the past 14 years!

And if you would rather give early, you can do that, too, by selecting the CO GIVES DAY button when donating.

We could really use the support this year in particular. Please help out with however much you are able!

AND as usual, we’re having out annual AfA Holiday Party to celebrate Colorado Gives Day! This year it’s at our new location on 10th and Navajo between the hours of 6.30 and 9 pm.

You will be inspired by brilliant Phoenix Rising youth and local poets; music by Joshua Abeyta; & instant poem gifts typed on the spot by Poet Jen Harris. You can enjoy delicious complimentary appetizers and alcoholic (with ID) and non-alcoholic beverages.

Proceeds from the event will be used to support Art from Ashes creative empowerment programs for youth.

We look forward to seeing you and your friends on Tuesday, Dec 5 from 6.30 to 9 pm @ the Art from Ashes home base, 1310 West 10th Ave, Denver.

If you can’t make it to the party, but wish to make a Colorado Gives Day contribution to Art from Ashes, you can do so by scheduling your donation anytime before midnight on Dec. 5th!
Click here —->


2014 SCFD Check Presentation Dinner and Ceremony: Adams County

Funders_SCFD_Logo-vertArt from Ashes has received a grant award from the Adams County Cultural Council to conduct youth workshops at three Adams County location! The dinner and check ceremony will be attended by two Art from Ashes board members.

Star Wars Rockies Game

rockiesIt’s the Star Wars game! Watch the Rockies play the Atlanta Braves on Saturday, July 23, 2016. As a fundraiser and community builder for our youth, AfA is selling 50 Rockies tickets at face value. We have guaranteed seats in Section 146 (foul ball territory!); there will be a parade on the field; and the first 20,000 people get a FREE Charlie Blackmon X-Wing Fighter Pilot Bobblehead. Dress up in costume and you could win a prize!CoorsSeating_final

Purchase your $40 ticket from us (no markup; in fact you save the $5 Ticketmaster fee!), and Art from Ashes gets $15 of that amount as a donation thanks to the generosity of the Colorado Rockies Baseball Club!

Can’t attend? Some of our young people have never attended a baseball game and would love the opportunity. Please consider buying a ticket for a young person or add one or more tickets onto your purchase.

You can buy your tickets through PayPal below (you don’t need an account) or mail a check to Art from Ashes, 853 Inca St., Suite 1A, Denver CO 80204. Be sure you include a note about how many tickets you need and whether you are donating any to a young person.

Purchase your tickets by July 18 and we’ll mail them out,** or you can stop by the office after the 19th to pick them up.

**Seats are in rows 14–17; best seat selection will depend on time of payment

Check out our Facebook event HERE

Choose an Option
Number of tickets for youth

Fireworks Rockies Game

Thank you to all who came! Check out our photos from the event!

Thank you to those of you who bought tickets so the youth could attend! Listen to the joy! (click link for a 40 second video): rockies2016

rockies-fireworks-posterWatch the Rockies play the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday, Sept 30, 2016, and also watch fireworks from the field as part of the ticket price!

As a fundraiser and community builder for our youth, AfA is selling 50 Rockies tickets at face value. We have guaranteed seats in Section 149 (foul ball territory!) and after the game, we’ll be able to take our stuff and watch the fireworks from the field! (bring a blanket!)

Purchase your $40 ticket from us (no markup; in fact you save the $5 Ticketmaster fee!), and Art from Ashes gets $15 of that amount as a donation thanks to the generosity of the Colorado Rockies Baseball Club!CoorsSeating_final

Some of our young people have never attended a baseball game and would love the opportunity to see a live game. Please consider purchasing a ticket for a young person, even if you can’t make it.

Pay through PayPal below (you don’t need an account) or mail a check to Art from Ashes, 853 Inca St., Suite 1A, Denver CO 80204. Be sure to let us know if you are donating one or more tickets to a young person. Purchase your tickets by Sept 24 and we’ll mail them out,** or you can stop by the office on or before the 29th to pick them up.

**Seats are in rows 8–13; best seat selection will depend on time of payment