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2020 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Arts, Culture & Humanities, Arts Services, Children & Youth, Youth Development

Mission: Mission: Transforming children’s trauma to resilience through the arts. Vision: Every child who has experienced the trauma of abuse, neglect and/or homelessness has access to resilience-building arts programs and caring adult volunteer mentors. Values: • Resilience – We are optimistic, solutions-focused, and agile in an ever-changing environment. • Bravery – We take smart and well-supported risks. We try, sometimes we fail, we learn, and we try again. We bravely ask for feedback and have a growth mindset. • Connection – We build trust, and nurture strong and thoughtful connections. • Creativity – We are inspired, imaginative, and design impactful experiences and solutions. We use an “art with intention” model ensuring there is a reason and meaning behind all activities. • Strength – We look for the best in every situation and relationship. We seek, support, and celebrate the strengths of each individual. • Innovation – We strategically plan, using past-experiences and current information for a positive future.

Results: Over the past twenty-five years, Free Arts has proudly transformed the lives of more than 125,000 children in Maricopa County. From an initial volunteer base of 5 individuals serving 50 children, Free Arts now employs 15 staff members and has more than 800 volunteers who serve over 8,000 children each year. Free Arts partners with more than 40 social service agencies at more than 100 locations throughout Maricopa County, Arizona to provide a unique combination of arts, a trauma-informed curriculum, and mentoring to children who are in out-of-home care.

Target demographics: transform children's trauma to resilience through the arts

Direct beneficiaries per year: Free Arts Served 8,000 children with more than 800 volunteer mentors.

Geographic areas served: Maricopa County Arizona

Programs: Weekly Mentor Program Specially screened and trained positive role models act as mentors in this weekly therapeutic art program for children and adolescents that take place on-site at their group home facilities and shelters. Through the use of therapeutic elements, Weekly Mentors create a safe and non-judgmental environment where youth can freely express their emotions and feel successful. Curriculum for this program focuses on building trust within the group, exploring creativity and empowering youth to consider their futures. Professional Artist Series Professional Artist Series are in-depth programs, averaging 6 sessions in length, and are led by professional teaching artists. Youth receive a unique opportunity to work intimately with the artists to learn a variety of art forms. The programs culminate in a performance or exhibit where the youth have the opportunity to showcase their work. Sometimes a series will culminate in a field trip where youth can potentially gain information about internships or career paths. Professional Artist Series are designed as unique and intimate opportunities for youth to be exposed to new art forms. Not only do youth have the chance to learn from a Professional Artist, but they get to interact with positive adult volunteers as well. Free Arts Days Free Arts Days are one day “Explorations of the Arts” for children and families who live in group homes, treatment centers or homeless shelters. At these events, children are exposed to an array of art activities which allow them to explore their creative talents while forming a bond with a caring adult. Each event is created with the partnering arts or cultural organization and Free Arts staff to serve the unique needs of the participating population. The number of youth invited to these events ranges from 20 to over 300, depending on the location and structure. The format usually includes an experiential educational piece, mini art workshop, and time with a caring adult volunteer. Multicultural Arts Camp The Multicultural Arts Camp Series (MAC Camp) brings together youth from a variety of Free Arts of Arizona partner facilities to participate in multicultural arts activities in a day camp setting. Supported by caring artists, experienced staff and caring volunteers, youth at camp discover and express their inner talents, form bonds with volunteers and other campers while discovering and expressing their inner talents. The Youth in the program work to overcome barriers and open their minds to build bridges with others and the world around them. Free Arts hosts several camps throughout the year including Summer Theater Camp, MAC Camp and Intersession Camps.

Community Stories

28 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Client Served

Rating: 5

As a school counselor it is awesome to see organizations passionate in helping students. They help students to have a bright and as cheerful as possible holiday season. They are amazing and we are so grateful.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I absolutely LOVE Free Arts for Abused Children!! I first met a group of volunteers 6 years ago, when they went to an event I volunteered at. I am humbled by their love and patience they showed the children!! Such a wonderful program!!!!

Client Served

Rating: 5

This program is something that our school looks forward to every year! The volunteers are so helpful and interact very well with the kids. The volunteers always bring in new art ideas that the kids love to create. This is a great opportunity for our students.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have been teaching for 2 years and my kids are always looking forward to our free arts event put on at our school. They always have lots of supplies, and allow the children to express themselves, not requiring their art to be cookie cutter. This a great event that is something all of our kids look forward to!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

For many years, Free Arts for Abused Children in AZ, has participated in an annual event at our school. The volunteers with Free Arts are welcoming to all of our students. They bring and organize all of the necessary supplies needed. The art activities the students make are great! Students are able to express themselves through the art projects. There are different projects that students are able to chose from. When finished, the students are proud of what they created. They all look forward to the next year in anticipation of the project. Free Arts definitely has a positive impact on our students.

Kelley F.3

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

While Phoenix might be the fifth largest city in the country, its nonprofit community is small. As a result, nonprofit organizations frequently work with each other towards common goals. Over the years, I have had numerous opportunities to work with Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona. As Director of Education and Programs for the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, I have appreciated the way Free Arts addresses children’s different developmental stages in the design of the activities they offer. No matter what challenge the child is facing, the Free Arts staff is there to gently guide them to success. And it shows on the smiles of pride on literally every child’s face. This is truly an amazing group!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Although I had been aware of Free Arts for a number of years, this December was the first time I actually had the opportunity to work closely with them and watch them in action. I am a Board Member with another nonprofit, PNA, that annually partners with Free Arts to produce three Christmas events for homeless, poor, and special needs children. This was the first time I was able to attend all three of these events alongside Free Arts. Professionally, I produce entertainment events and am a performer, so I tend to look a little deeper at events than the average person. I was totally impressed with the Free Arts team and programs that I observed at our events. They were well organized, professional, well prepared, and provided activities that were perfect for the ages and abilities of the children attending. Moreover, they were focused on each child, nurturing them and mentoring them through every step of the activities. Free Arts is an AMAZING organization and it’s easy to see why PNA has chosen to collaborate with them for over twenty years.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Cactus Wren Elementary absolutely loves the Christmas production that this organization assists with on our campus! Our students, staff members and family members look forward to this amazing event every year thus far! We are blessed beyond belief to have them provide arts and craft activities during the holiday season! A special thank you to the Free Arts for Abused Children of AZ you are all amazing:)
Sincerely-
Julie Kent-Partridge MSW, Cactus Wren Elem School Social Worker

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Free Arts has been a key partner with another organization I volunteer with. They provide their own volunteers, and crafting supplies, and are incredibly well organized. As I observe the children at their station during these events, it is hard not to notice how much fun they are having! They get as much or as little one-on-one assistance as they need or want, are encouraged to 'create' and let their little imaginations soar. The kids get to take home and show off their creations, bringing with them a lasting 'memory' of caring, fun, and a sense of pride in their accomplishment. The volunteers are joyful, patient, and fun! Free Arts is an amazing organization!

Board Member

Rating: 5

Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona has supported our holiday programs for disadvantaged school children for more than 20 years. They take responsibility for managing every aspect of their involvement from setup to take down and clean up. We never have to be concerned that anyone is going to drop the ball. Our requests for their support are met with enthusiasm and excitement at having the opportunity to engage with us and with the children. All volunteers are thoroughly screened, trained, and are competent in guiding the students through a wide range of creative activities. They are also very patient, particularly with special needs children. Each child selects a project according to her or his own interests and abilities. The children love participating and are proud of their accomplishments. Free Arts provides all the supplies for the numerous available project options, coming prepared with extras in case more children attend than were expected. We are always able to rely on Free Arts to provide a nurturing and supportive engagement during the time they are with us.

Kringle

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

For almost twenty five years now, I have had the distinct pleasure of working with Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona. Over the years, they have provided mentoring programs to adolescents in treatment programs I managed, I have served on their Mentor Board, and for the past two decades they have collaborated with us at our events serving homeless, impoverished, and special needs children. As an Expressive Arts Therapist, I can’t say enough about their professionalism, commitment to our clients, and quality of the experience they provide. Their staff and volunteers are always well-trained and the activities they provide are exceptional, captivating everyone involved. I have found Free Arts to be one of the best run organizations that I deal with and an example of exemplary nonprofit management. They are indeed a positive resource for our community.

Kris K.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a part of this organization for over 20 years...I have been a volunteer mentor, on the board of directors and a paid teaching artist. I just can't stay away. Their impact of the children they serve as well as the training, coaching and support they provide for the volunteers is awesome. I continue to learn and grow as an artist and a caring human by being involved with Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona.

Every time I participate in one of their programs with kids, I can see the difference they make on the lives of Children... Grumpy becomes giggles, shy becomes engaged and where fear once consumed, there is surprising self expression and joy. I just love to watch the transformation art and mentoring can bring about.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have volunteered with Free Arts for almost 10 years. Volunteered at the Free Arts fun events, summer camps, the ballet event, sometimes help put art supplies away in the art room and mentoring. It has been a rewarding experience in mentoring teens and kids in doing fun art activities. Free Arts is a wonderful nonprofit who really cares about these kids and volunteers.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

LOVE LOVE LOVE Free Arts of AZ!! After I finished my MBA in 2009 I started volunteering to give back to my community. However, it quickly turned into yet another selfish indulgence because I get so much joy out of my experiences. So fulfilling, fantastic, and rewarding to be a part of this organization! I have worked with ages 4 - 18 in group homes, locked detention facilities, interim detention homes, and homeless shelters for abused women and their children. Regardless of age, sex, ethnicity, or current life status, these children are always so happy to see us and to participate in the magic of creativity. Our time together with the children is a brief opportunity to run a gamut of merely having fun & relieving stress, to learning about art, to planting seeds for a positive future for their lives, and consequently improving our world! I praise the people who work at Free Arts. They are so kind, patient, full of grace, real, and loving. But just as important, they are savvy organizers, coordinators, and business managers. Enough gushing....I think you get the point now. Thank you :)

1

Volunteer

Rating: 4

Free Arts does so much for the children and facilities it serves, as well as showing its volunteers respect and gratitude!

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This summer will mark my first anniversary volunteering with Free Arts of Arizona and I couldn't be more blessed to be a part of their organization. Volunteering with Free Arts has been such an incredible experience. Their organization is so organized and truly has a heart for the children they serve. It is so neat to see so many people love and support these children who otherwise have nothing. In addition, Free Arts provides the means for the volunteers to be completely successful in reaching the children they serve. There are training sessions to prepare the volunteers on how to engage the children and make them feel special and unique. Free Arts also provides a project handbook and the project of the month along with all supplies needed. This way those who feel they're not that artsy do not have to stress about coming up with project ideas and the materials to go with them. In closing, last summer I volunteered at MAC Camp and I saw the lives of the children there change with just one week. Kids who started off not wanting to participate at all were full force by the end of the week. We had one boy who had hardly spoken the entire week and on our last day of spoken word he said his poem aloud in front of the entire group! In addition, I had a teenage boy who refused to participate in most of the activities, especially dance, but by the end of the week he was dancing with full confidence. We also had a young lady who had a real attitude and liked to frown during our activited, but by Tuesday or Wednesday she was smiling and being kind to the others in our group. Lastly, two of the younger boys in our group would say with such excitment "I wish MAC Camp was everyday!" Seeing the smiles on their precious faces is the most beautiful thing and Free Arts goes the distance to help create those smilies!

1 Misha P.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

This is my third year as as a Professional Artist with Free Arts of Arizona teaching Social Dance.
Having worked with many organizations and non-profits I can honestly say no one serves youth better than Free Arts of Arizona. I appreciate the dedicated staff that are so highly organized and create these wonderful programs that benefit so many at-risk youth.
Every program I have been involved with has far exceeded my expectations and I am always impressed with the wonderful feedback from facility staff at how much they appreciate Free Arts programs and how greatly they see their youth benefiting from what we offer them. Countless times facility staff members have told me how a Free Arts program is the thing that helped one of their youth turn a corner and take a new positive direction in their recovery.
At a lock down facility, where social dance was offered, the staff was able to use one of the clients social dance skills to bring him out of schizophrenic episodes and stay present and focused, they are able to directly use his Free Arts experience in his recovery and therapy. That is just one of the many great accomplishments of Free Arts of Arizona!

1 Andrea E.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Of all the non-profits that I have volunteered with, Free Arts is the most organized and efficiently run. At all 3 of the events that I have been involved with, I felt useful and fully engaged. Most importantly, I was able to witness firsthand the value of the program through the smiles on the faces of the children involved.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have worked with Free Arts through Republic Media, helping Free Arts with an art supplies drive and working to recruit additional volunteers for the arts programs. The team at Free Arts has always been knowledgeable and friendly and I can see the positive impact on the children they serve. They truly are a remarkable nonprofit and continuously go above and beyond to help children who need a positive impact in their lives.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've worked with Free Arts on a fund raising event for an art auction and an awareness event to help spread the word on Free Arts. They are a great organization and amazing to work with. I look forward to helping them in any way I can in the future as well as my mentoring session which starts today!

1 Frank T.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

II have had the pleasure of working with Free Arts Arizona for the past two years and have been captivated and inspired by the impact of art on young adults and children who have been traditionally underserved. Free Arts Arizona gave me a new window to view the positive self-awareness that young people can achieve when working with skilled and caring artists. Free Arts is an incredibly well organized program that matches volunteers and artists in a way that maximizes student achievement, participation and creativity. Simply put. They are the best.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Over the last 5 years, I have been involved with children who are served by Free Arts of Arizona, and have attended many, many Free Arts functions. This is an organization that brings a powerful tool to abused children, and teaches them to use this tool for their own empowerment.
Through their mentor program, the Multicultural Arts camps, the Free Arts days, sponsored visits to theater, ballet and symphony shows, Theater Camp, and many more projects, Free Arts helps children become involved with art in ways that they can then explore and participate in. Our children see Free Arts events as wonderful treats. I have witnessed many kids, who are new to the foster care system and full of anger and hostility, enter into a Free Arts program and become transformed by the acceptance and love they feel from the volunteers, as well as by the process which turns them into successful dancers, singers, actors, painters, and poets. We had one young man who was always in trouble and explosively angry, who had the opportunity to participate in Free Arts' two-week theatre camp. His behavior changed completely! He gave an electrifying performance in the finale, and told me that the experience of the camp had changed his life. I have truthfully witnessed similar events many times with kids in Free Arts activities. As an educator, I wish that EVERY CHILD could experience Free Arts of Arizona's exceptional approach to bringing healing to kids through the arts.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I have been working at an agency that receives services through Free Arts for the past two years and I could not be happier with the services this agency provides. We have been fortunate to be the recipients of visual and performing arts programs such as Bring Back a Week, Social Dance, Tai Chi, Mural, the Art of Cooking, Spoken Word, Poetry, Junk Art, Drumming, Drawing and Photography as well as scoring spots at MAC Camp. Our students love the programs and many report to me that they have found a creative and appropriate way to express their feeling through art. Free Arts staff and artists I have worked with are organized and really love the kids. I love this agency and the work they do.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

Great series ! I often come away learning more than I teach.
Free Arts is a great organization with a great support staff.

Donor

Rating: 5

Free arts of Arizonais a fine organization that does outstanding work. I support it because it provides a powerful, unique combination of the power of the arts to heal, and mentors for children who are in great need. the state provides virtually no mental health for these kids who have been so very damaged. This is very important work.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Free Arts is a wonderful place that brings joy to anyone and everyone involved. During summer camps, the kids, the volunteers, even the donating lunch crews can't stop smiling and raving about Free Arts. Being a councilor for the summerly MAC Camps has been the most amazing experience; the training always prepared me but it couldn't prepare me enough for how much I would love the kids by the end of the program. Free Arts is a blessing and I am proud to be a part of it!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I interned with Free Arts in the development department. During my internship, I learned a great deal about working within the nonprofit sector, as well as grant writing. I got the chance to learn how to search for grants, write grants, and even applied for funding. Free Arts is a great organization and provides an amazing experience for children throughout Maricopa County. I am so fortunate to have had such a great experience!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I volunteered for Free Arts for Abused Children's Palette of Homes Tour as a house monitor. This event was extremely well organized, and I felt appreciated. I was trained well and felt very useful. The folks that were taking the tour were polite and quite fun to chat with. Afterwards Free Arts had an appreciation get together for all the volutneers. All in all I had a great day!