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Art from Ashes, Inc.

Art from Ashes (AfA) exists to empower struggling youth by providing creative programs that facilitate health and hope through expression, connection and transformation. Our programs create supportive opportunities for youth in underserved, vulnerable neighborhoods throughout Colorado.

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Drawing On Air

Class

Youth Development 

Beneficiaries

Description

Aristotle stated, "The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance." Art from Ashes' Drawing on Air youth empowerment program works to reveal the power of visual expression to enlighten and transform, helping facilitate recognition that visual metaphor can become a vehicle for addressing past struggles while additionally encouraging positive perceptions. Similar to our award-winning Phoenix Rising poetry program, Drawing on Air offers guided prompts to exercise Art from Ashes' three core principles of expression, connection, and transformation through the use of metaphor, while holding a safe and non-judgmental space for youth to feel free to express their creativity and share experiences.
Each workshop involves a variety of artistic medium for youth to release the creative genius within them, allowing for opportunities to use both visual and tactile arts as a method of expression. Many of the workshops intertwine guided creative writing and poetry prompts along with visual art projects, bridging a powerful connection between both left and right brain cognitions. The visual arts provide an opportunity for youth who may be reluctant to engage in written prompts to express themselves non-verbally. Each of the workshops include appearances from professional guest artists to offer further inspiration and connection with members of the local art community.
According to the National Endowment for the Arts, student creativity and level of engagement increase when arts-integrated instruction is introduced to the classroom, and students who receive arts-integrated instruction collaborate more, work better in teams, and participate more in class.
The goals of the Drawing on Air workshops are:
∞ Increase awareness of self and improve self-confidence
∞ Gain knowledge of the power of non-verbal expression
∞ Increase interest and participation in school and extracurricular activities
∞ Gain tools to appropriately express feelings
∞ Develop positive attitudes and decision making skills
∞ Improve interpersonal skills and relationships
Drawing on Air workshops are intended to benefit struggling youth ages 9 to 24. The program is designed to appeal to all youth regardless of socio-economic status, race, creed, chosen lifestyle or culture.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

Measurement categories include: Program Quality & Satisfaction, Academic Success, Arts & Culture, Community Involvement, Cultural Responsiveness, Life Skills, Positive Life Choices, Core Values, and Sense of Self. Individual exposure to program activity is recorded in the number and percentage of workshops attended.

Casting Shadows

Class

Arts, Culture & Humanities 

Beneficiaries

Crime/Abuse Victims
Ethnic/Racial Minorities - General
Poor/Economically Disadvantaged/Indigent
Youth/Adolescents only (14 - 19 years)

Description

Plato said "You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation."
Each workshop focuses on a principal of theater including physical character mask, improvisational techniques, exploration of character tactics, as well as components of story telling including conflict and resolution. With a goal of strengthening the body mind connection, youth explore prop manipulation and body language through shadow theater, creating powerful stage pictures, and developing their own scenes.
According to the National Association for Drama Therapy, some specific benefits likely to be achieved in drama with youth include, "reducing feelings of isolation, developing new coping skills and patterns, broadening the range of expression of feelings, experiencing improved self esteem and self worth, increasing sense of play and spontaneity, and developing relationships." Youth experience success and joy in this workshop series with no previous performance experience necessary. A team of trained facilitators allows youth to safely explore their personal roles while gaining increased definition and flexibility between all the roles needed to be successful and increase self-esteem.
The goals of the Casting Shadows workshops are:
∞ Gain tools to appropriately express feelings
∞ Improved interpersonal skills and relationships
∞ Increased flexibility and resilience
∞ Increased connection between body and mind
The program is designed to appeal to all youth regardless of socio-economic status, race, creed, chosen lifestyle or culture. Young participants have provided evaluation responses for more than 18 years that speak to the power these workshops have had in their lives. Many have expressed that poetry has changed or even saved their lives. Statistical evidence, based on a national standard developed by the National Research Center, confirms these anecdotal findings (available by request).

Art from Ashes utilizes the creative program, Casting Shadows, with struggling youth age 9 to 24. In order to cast a shadow, young people must learn to embrace the light within. Casting Shadows introduces youth to the art of dramatic performance while encouraging participants to recognize themselves as the main character in the performance of their lives, nurturing hope, insight and strength along the way.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

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. Results are communicated during monthly workshop facilitator training, and during ongoing volunteer training. Evaluation results are used by the Director of Programs to tailor workshops to individual groups, as well as to refine the overall curriculum as needed.

Phoenix Rising Poetry and Spoken Word

Class

Arts, Culture & Humanities 

Beneficiaries

Ethnic/Racial Minorities -- General
Gays/Lesbians
Offenders/Ex-offenders
Poor/Economically Disadvantaged/Indigent
Youth/Adolescents only (14 - 19 years)

Description

Who We Are
Art from Ashes (AfA) exists to empower struggling youth by providing creative programs that facilitate health and hope through expression, connection and transformation.

Phoenix Rising, AfA's foundational youth empowerment program, uses poetry and spoken word to help youth move past their limitations and discover hope, humanity and self-determination through the power of words. Our program creates supportive opportunities for youth in underserved, vulnerable neighborhoods throughout Colorado.

The Phoenix Rising curriculum utilizes symbolism, metaphor and storytelling to engage youth who live in hopelessness and use the language of victimization because of experiences and/or circumstances characterized by poverty, racism, gender identity, criminal activity and abuse. Because words have a powerful impact on the subconscious - and consequently on choices and behaviors - the program's guided writing prompts allow isolated youth to express their value and access their unique creative genius.

The core principles of all AfA programs, including Phoenix Rising and those under development, are EXPRESSION, CONNECTION and TRANSFORMATION:
1) EXPRESSION facilitates a safe way for youth participants to tell their story through poetry, visual arts and theater;
2) CONNECTION allows understanding, acceptance and empathy to develop with peers and adults;
3) TRANSFORMATION helps youth discover and express their creative genius and thereby recognize it is within their power to choose a healthy and productive life.

The Phoenix Rising program employs these three principles in every workshop. In a series of 3-minute writing prompts facilitated over two hours, young people see immediate evidence of their creative ability and readily share their experiences-a process that often takes much longer using standard inquiry or cognitive therapies. The workshops provide a nonjudgmental forum for youth to tell their stories through poetry, and a safe space in which to explore their creative genius.

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Evidence of Program's Success

2013 Youth Survey Results Pre-Post Evaluations

After attending an average of 7 workshops, youth gave the following affirmative ("all of the time" and "some of the time") responses on post-test surveys:

Domain: Program Quality and Satisfaction

• 100% of survey respondents affirm the activities are fun/enjoyable at Art from Ashes workshops.
• 98.6% of survey respondents affirm they like coming to Art from Ashes workshops.
• 98.6% of survey respondents affirm they feel safe at Art from Ashes workshops.
• 99.3% of survey respondents affirm facilitators care about them.
• 100% of survey respondents affirm facilitators give them lots of support.
• 98.6% of survey respondents affirm facilitators can be trusted.
• 100% of survey respondents affirm facilitators listen to what they have to say.
• 100% of survey respondents affirm facilitators treat all workshop participants fairly.

Domain: Academic Success

• 95.1% of survey respondents affirm they do well in language arts (reading/writing) classes.
• 95.7% of survey respondents affirm they do well in school.
• 94.2% of survey respondents affirm they try hard in school.
• 97.1% of survey respondents affirm they participate in class activities.
• 94.2% of survey respondents affirm they are interested in going to school.
• 95.7% of survey respondents affirm they try to improve their grades in school.
• 97.5% of survey respondents affirm they can see themselves graduating from high school.

Domain: Arts and Cultural

• 90.1% of survey respondents affirm they enjoy poetry.
• 90.1% of survey respondents affirm they think that poetry is important.
• 80.2% of survey respondents affirm they are comfortable performing in front of others.
• 72.5% of survey respondents affirm they spend time doing poetry.
• 88.4% of survey respondents affirm they can express themselves through poetry.
• 85.5% of survey respondents affirm they can show others how they see the world through poetry.
• 67.9% of survey respondents affirm they see themselves as poets.
• 88.4% of survey respondents affirm they feel strongly that young people like them can be poets.

Domain: Community Involvement

• 90.1% of survey respondents affirm they are important to their community.
• 75.4% of survey respondents affirm they feel a strong connection to their community.

Domain: Cultural Responsiveness

• 95.7% of survey respondents affirm they know about people of other cultures, races or ethnic groups.
• 95.7% of survey respondents affirm they care about young people of other cultures, races or ethnic groups.
• 97.1% of survey respondents affirm they have respect for other cultures, races or ethnic groups.
• 97.1% of survey respondents affirm they feel comfortable with young people of other cultures, races or ethnic groups.
• 92.6% of survey respondents affirm they talk to young people who speak languages other than their own.
• 97.1% of survey respondents affirm they respect members of their own cultural, racial or ethnic community.
• 95.7% of survey respondents affirm they understand that someone who looks or sounds different than them may not be that different after all.
• 97.1% of survey respondents affirm they are comfortable being around young people who look or sound different than them.

Domain: Life Skills

• 95.7% of survey respondents affirm they get along with other people their age.
• 92.6% of survey respondents affirm they are good at making friends.
• 91.4% of survey respondents affirm they are good at telling others about their ideas and feelings.
• 96.3% of survey respondents affirm they are good at listening to other people.
• 91.4% of survey respondents affirm they make good decisions.
• 91.3% of survey respondents affirm they are good at setting goals.
• 93.8% of survey respondents affirm they are good at taking care of problems without violence or fighting.

Domain: Positive Life Choices

• 92.6% of survey respondents affirm they say "no" to things they know are wrong.
• 84.0% of survey respondents affirm they stay out of trouble.
• 63.8% of survey respondents affirm they stay away from tobacco.
• 72.5% of survey respondents affirm they stay away form alcohol.
• 76.8% of survey respondents affirm they stay away from drugs.
• 89.9% of survey respondents affirm they make safe choices about sexual activity.
• 91.3% of survey respondents affirm they stay away from violence and fighting.

Domain: Core Values

• 95.7% of survey respondents affirm they care about other people.
• 96.3% of survey respondents affirm they care about the feelings of other people.
• 95.1% of survey respondents affirm they tell the truth even when it is hard.
• 88.4% of survey respondents affirm they are interested in community and world problems.

Domain: Sense of Self

• 91.4% of survey respondents affirm they feel good about themselves.
• 92.8% of survey respondents affirm they feel they have control over things that happen to them.
• 95.7% of survey respondents affirm they feel that they can make a difference.
• 95.1% of survey respondents affirm they are good at learning new things they didn't think they could do before.
• 94.2% of survey respondents affirm they feel good about their future.
• 95.7% of survey respondents affirm they are good at handling whatever comes their way.

Not only are the youth significantly impacted by the program, but testimonials from facilitators, collaborators, guest poets and artists, and thousands of audience members who have attended events and presentations attest to the power of the program.

Upcoming Programs

Class

Arts, Culture & Humanities 

Beneficiaries

Ethnic/Racial Minorities - General
Gays/Lesbians
Homeless
Youth/Adolescents only (14 - 19 years)

Description

AfA not only plans for current and future sustainability of programs and operations, but also allows room for innovation and vision.

The Wingspan youth empowerment program is a somatic movement program that leverages body awareness and activity to promote raw creative expression, social connection with peers and adults, and self-transformation though non-verbal narrative. The curriculum is being developed using the Afro-Brazilian art form of Capoeira, a dynamic combination of martial arts, dance, music, and folklore. According to a 2013 report from the NEA, numerous reports have shown evidence of a connection between kinesthetic learning and student achievement, particularly for minority students who are underserved in traditional academic settings.

Each creative program has one mission: to facilitate right-brain techniques that promote creative transformation among youth in desperate circumstances, encouraging them to recognize and utilize internal resources, allowing them to manage their perceptions and make informed choices, thereby creating hope and the resultant self-determination necessary for success.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

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. Results are communicated during monthly workshop facilitator training, and during ongoing volunteer training. Evaluation results are used by the Director of Programs to tailor workshops to individual groups, as well as to refine the overall curriculum as needed.

Key aspects of this profile information have been reviewed by Community First Foundation staff. Each organization is exclusively responsible for the content that appears on the profile page. Community First Foundation offers general guidance as to the purpose of each area but does not require or encourage charities to include anything in particular in each section.