Our Programs

Free Arts programs are built using a trauma informed approach.  Each program is constructed based on our program model ART + MENTORS = RESILIENCE and is led by trained staff, teaching artists, or volunteer mentors.  Programs are evaluated on an ongoing basis to measure impact and ensure that children feel connected, creative, and cared for.

Weekly Mentor Program

Adult volunteer mentors are matched with groups of children living in social service agencies for weekly art sessions for up to 16 weeks. Volunteer mentors use trauma-informed techniques to build relationships with their group, helping children build trusting relationships and express themselves creatively.   

Professional Artist Series

Professional teaching artists lead the children through focused art-making sessions designed to develop skills and self-efficacy. Art forms include painting, drawing, cooking, dancing, drumming, and beat making. At the end of each series, children celebrate their accomplishments and demonstrate their skills to their peers at a culminating event.

Free Arts Days

Children in partner social service agencies practice self-expression with the support of volunteer mentors during this one-day program hosted in partnership with local arts and culture organizations. 

Camp Series

At camp, teaching artists lead workshops designed to introduce children to new forms of self-expression while volunteer mentors support children in artistically expressing their personal stories. Intentional structure and a focus on collaboration create a safe environment and sense of community for participants. Each camp series concludes with a final performance where participants share their art and stories of resilience, hope, and healing with their community. 

Young Adult Empowerment Program

Formally known as the Alumni Program, YAEP helps young adults (ages 18-26) who are connected to social service agencies build skills and promote self-efficacy through expressive arts, peer mentoring, leadership, and internship opportunities. Through this program, participants are empowered to develop resilience, form healthy relationships, and gain long-lasting connections to supportive communities.

Participants painting for Foster Families and Kinship program

Family Program

The Free Arts Family Program was created with the intention of expanding program services to families who have experienced trauma through situations such as family violence, separation, or homelessness. With the implementation of this program, Free Arts aims to encourage harmony and resilience within the family unit by empowering parents and caregivers through education on trauma-informed care and engaging children in artistic opportunities for self-discovery during their family transitions. Our program events are designed for the whole family including foster, kinship, and adoptive families, and cater to people of all ages.

With their participation, we hope to foster a safe and stable environment that allows family members- both parent/caregiver and child- to discover and develop their unique strengths and use them to connect with one another to create a strong and secure home environment.

Resilient Roots Program

The Free Arts Resilient Roots Program is specifically designed to serve unaccompanied refugee minors in our communities. In this program, participants are encouraged to incorporate aspects of their culture of origin such as language, values, and customs into the intentional art activities to help them build resiliency from both past traumas and new challenges that come from being in an unfamiliar environment. By honoring their stories with culturally focused art activities, they will have the chance to develop individual coping strategies that will encourage strength, promote feelings of hope, and help them maintain their unique identities.

Pandemic Response Programs

In response to the international pandemic in 2020 and 2021, Free Arts created alternate programs to ensure that children and community members could access the arts and use them as a way to cope with the additional stress on an uncertain time.

  • Ready-To-Go Projects: Intentional art activities, corresponding supplies, and instructions that are hand-packaged and delivered to children so they can use their imaginations to create.
  • Art Heals Videos: An online video series featuring Free Arts alumni, staff and teaching artists featuring trauma-informed art activities for all ages and abilities.
  • Caregiver Community: A weekly online meeting and corresponding social media group to creatively support caregivers.
  • Bravery Boxes: Intentional art activities, corresponding supplies, and instructions provided to children entering the care of the Department of Child Safety.

By the Numbers

On average Free Arts programs serve 7,500 children a year
Free Arts programs are supported by more than 700 volunteers a year
Free Arts programs provide 110 paid opportunities for local teaching artists each year
Free Arts provides more than 50 paid opportunities for alumni each year

Connect and Create With Children

We know that children build resilience when they’re surrounded by caring, supportive adults.  We provide the training, you provide the time.