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Review for Downtown Aurora Visual Arts, Aurora, CO, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

Downtown Aurora Visual Arts (DAVA) helps youth succeed through the arts. DAVA promotes positive youth development through the arts. Building upon a unique collaboration with youth, it is emerging as a national model. Located one block south of East Colfax Avenue on Florence Street in Original Aurora, DAVA successfully utilizes multifaceted art programs to develop a unique approach to positive youth development, with an emphasis on social skills, personal exploration, job training and community pride. Founded as Downtown Aurora Visual Arts in 1993, DAVA serves urban youth throughout the metro Denver area. The organization’s programs engage students ages 7-17 in progressively difficult projects as their skills develop and their ability to handle responsibility grows. All five of DAVA’s programs —the OASIS Open Studio, Job Training in Studio and Computer Arts, Family Arts and the Portable Art School — are designed to reach inner-city youth and their families. On-site programs are offered year-round for free in a fully-equipped arts facility, including studios, computer art lab and a gallery. DAVA serves more than 900 youth on-site each year and reaches at least 2,000 other participants through the Portable Art School and Family Arts programs. time supervised by a qualified staff of six professionals and two studio assistants. This combination of instruction and exploration time has nurtured a strong sense of self-awareness among participants. Recent Colorado Council on the Arts testing found that 90 percent of DAVA’s Job Training program students learn things they could not do before, feel better about themselves , and 83 percent feel better about the future. More than half are setting goals, believe they are better at making decisions, resolve conflict without violence or fighting and are more likely to stand up for their personal beliefs. Youth in DAVA programs demonstrate sustained negative attitudes toward substance abuse and have lower truancy rates. DAVA’s unique programs have received a number of awards, including: · Coming up Taller Certificate of Excellence, President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, 2008 · National award for outstanding youth prevention programs, National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors, 2007 · Karl E. Eitel Award for youth programs, El Pomar Foundation, 2007 · El Pomar Award for Excellence in Arts and Education, 2006 · Special recognition from the Aurora Public School Board of Education, 2007 and 2008 Executive Director Susan Jenson, MA, leads a team of six art and education professionals and two studio assistants. The organization is supported by an engaged Board of Directors consisting of a variety of professionals from across the metro Denver area.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the children and families it serves. They are engaged, safe, and inspired. Many go on to college and are scholarship recipients. They also return to give back to the organization and teach. They are truly changing the world one kid at a time.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

The committment, vision and tireless efforts of the E.D., Susan Jenson, the creativity of the teachers and staff, and the love they feel for the kids. I love watching the kids grow and transform through the program and see their pride in themselves.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Professional, engaged, dedicated, hard-working, friendly, caring, responsible and very well-qualified. They love their jobs and are committed to the kids.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

open a DAVA in every city and change lives everywhere.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?


Role:  Donor & Former Board member, chaired/ran fundraisers.