Our Impact

Arts are Therapeutic

Artistic expression gives children a much needed “release valve,” the chance to explore new ways of expression, and the freedom to create in a judgment-free environment. Free Arts programs provide a comprehensive continuum of creative arts experiences that build self-confidence and critical life management skills among abused and homeless children.

The Problem

Each year, over 78,600 Arizona children experience the pain of abuse, neglect and homelessness.

For these children, the extreme and prolonged stress of their traumatic experiences often becomes toxic, affecting their bodies, their brains and their development. This “toxic stress”, if left untreated, can impair a child’s brain development, focus, and decision making skills.

“When we invest in healthy child development, we are investing in community and economic development. Unfortunately, children are sometimes exposed to extreme and sustained stress like child abuse and neglect, which can undermine a child’s development. The cost of inaction is measured in increased costs for foster care services, hospitalization, mental health treatment and law enforcement, as well as loss of individual productivity and expenditures related to chronic health problems, special education and the justice system.” – Prevent Child Abuse America, a nationwide advocacy organization


Our Intervention 

Free Arts partners with 45 child welfare agencies to provide this intervention to children in our community who are most in need.

Research shows that in order to overcome toxic stress, children need to build resilience. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adverse situations.

Free Arts programs build resilience by:

  • Creating a safe and positive environment where children can express themselves
  • Connecting children with caring adults
  • Allowing children to learn and practice artistic and life skills
  • Connecting children with their peers and community


“It’s been such a pleasure working with everyone at Free Arts. You have all been such a force in helping our kiddos heal from the trauma and abuse they’ve suffered, and I can’t say enough about your wonderful program!” Barbara Castillo, Volunteer Coordinator, Florence Crittenton


Delivery Method

Free Arts utilizes the arts and proven youth development methods to deliver a model that we call “Art with Intention.” Each program is thoughtfully planned to include specific elements that promote safety, self-expression and a sense of belonging. Simple activities like closing rituals and creating group expectations inform the significant transformation that many children experience in our programs.



All Free Arts programs are delivered by volunteer mentors and professional teaching artists. Free Arts believes that anyone can help heal a child. We provide specialized training on brain development and trauma, effective communication with children, and the healing effects of the arts.


“I truly love Free Arts. The mentors provide such a positive and inspiring outlet for our children to express themselves, are fantastic role models and form effective and caring relationships with the kids. “ – Karen Brown, Support Services Director, A New Leaf




Our Programs Work

In 2016 Free Arts served more than 8,200 children.

Survey data collected from children, volunteers and caregivers indicate that 91% of children involved in Free Arts programs experience increased resiliency.



  • 91% experienced reduced anxiety and increased coping skills
  • 96% felt safe in Free Arts programs
  • 85% developed a trusting relationship with an adult


“I am going to tell you about Free Arts. Free Arts makes me feel special. Free Arts makes me feel loved. Free Arts makes me feel safe. With Free Arts I get to learn new things. People at Free Arts listen to me. They are helpful during our projects and they are loving. Free Arts makes me feel alive. I love Free Arts.” Tarah, age 9


Love for Free Arts

"The thing I liked best about this program was learning that you are not alone and that you have love everywhere”. – Max, age 13, Group Home Resident

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Your gift can change a life

The creative arts transform and inspire lives. Our donors are the reason we are able to transform the lives of more than 8,200 children each year.