supported program: ARTS – A Reason To Survive

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The haudenschild Garage supports A Reason To Survive () through collaborations with local institutions to provide educational summer programming. ARTS is dedicated to healing, inspiring, and empowering youth facing life challenges by providing innovative arts-based programs, education, and employment opportunities.

ARTS is a San Diego based nonprofit organization that believes that the visual, performing, and literary arts can literally transform lives – especially those of kids. We believe in the therapeutic powers of the arts, but we are not clinical art therapists. We use all art forms as a vehicle to create positive, long-lasting change in children and youth facing major life challenges – giving them not only a reason to survive – but to also thrive. Our unique program framework and model creates a one-stop shop for kids to be exposed to and engage in the arts at many levels depending on their circumstances, skill level, and interest. We believe that even an hour spent participating in the arts can have a tremendous influence and impact on a child. Through the Pat D’Arrigo ARTS Center and various outreach initiatives in the community, it is our goal to bring the ARTS to Heal, Inspire, and Empower children who are suffering throughout San Diego.

Visit ARTS website ( for more information.

“We are here not only to heal these young lives through the arts, but to also inspire and empower them to overcome obstacles and thrive in this world – to become compassionate, creative human beings who make a difference not only in themselves, but in the world they live in.” -Matt D’Arrigo, ARTS Founder/CEO.

Heal Program: Creating the Foundation

Our Heal Program focuses on Maslow’s levels of “Safety” and “Love & Belonging”. ARTS creates a safe and nurturing environment for kids in crisis, emergency, or transitional circumstances to create and express themselves. Trust is built with the adult artist mentors and amongst peers in the group. Our inclusive approach ensures that kids will feel loved and a sense of “belonging” while engaged in our programs. Focus is really on process over product in this program. Allowing kids to be themselves, forget about their worries, enjoy the creative process, and feel proud of their finished work of art.

Inspire Program: Building Skills and Esteem

Our Inspire Program focuses on Maslow’s “Esteem” level. This program starts to focus in on those kids facing similar difficult circumstances as HEAL but have opportunity to engage on a more frequent and long-term basis whose intrinsic motivation is the arts. They have been introduced to the arts and want more! We begin building their skills in their medium(s) of choice and build their self esteem and self confidence by recognizing and celebrating their efforts and achievements in various ways. By exposing them to the possibilities in the arts – and in life – we build a sense of “hope and faith”, inspiring them to reach beyond their current circumstances and set goals for the future.

Empower Program: Education and Employment

CreAte youR fuTure is our motto. Our Empower Program is our most in-depth program that focuses on Maslows’s “Self Actualization” level. Through wraparound case services, we provide High School and College aged youth who fall within our population guidelines but have more stability, focus, talent and drive with the skills, tools, and support they need to enter college to study the arts or secure jobs in the creative workforce. We provide one-on-one mentorship’s, portfolio development, scholarships, as well as internships and part time jobs in their field of interest or in ARTS Enterprises©. We truly believe that creativity is an asset all kids should have entering this creative economy. We are dedicated to building the creative capital of our youth through this program to prepare them for a brighter future.

Below is a trailer for the Oscar-nominated documentary about one of ARTS Empower students who is a talented, rising star in her own right. Inocente has been with ARTS since she was 12 years old and proves how the arts heal, inspire, and empower! INOCENTE premiered on March 29, 2012 at the Cleveland International Film Festival and was screened in San Diego in June 2012. Watch the trailer on Vimeo at


ARTS was first conceived by artist Matt D’Arrigo in 1992 while his mother and sister both battled cancer. Painting and music were his refuge and gave him “A Reason To Survive” that emotional and tumultuous time – especially after the passing of his mother. Just as the arts helped him during one of the most difficult times of his life, he aspired to provide that same opportunity to other kids facing their own personal crises. In 2001 he founded ARTS on his philosophy that the arts can heal and change lives. He started an outreach program at Ronald McDonald to bring arts projects to the children and families staying there while receiving medical treatment at Rady’s Children’s Hospital. Rady’s Children’s Hospital heard about the program and asked him to start a program there as well. The growth began. Soon, community agencies serving a wide range of children experiencing other challenges began to request ARTS services. The outreach program grew to 15 sites by 2006, facilitated by over 30 trained artists and volunteers.

The vision was always to create an ARTS Center – a safe and nurturing place for kids to escape and create through a variety of art forms – visual, performing, and literary. After much hard work, community support, and dedication, ARTS opened the 7,000 sq ft Pat D’Arrigo ARTS Center in 2007, which includes a music room, media arts lab, performance space, ceramics studio, printmaking and mixed media studio, painting studio, and a gallery to showcase and sell the kids work. Leveraging this incredible new resource, ARTS strategically expanded its programs and mission to now heal, inspire, and empower youth facing life challenges through arts-based programs, education, and employment opportunities. In addition to the Pat D’Arrigo ARTS Center, ARTS created a transportation service “Van Go!” with a fleet of 3 vans, ensuring all kids can participate in the programs at the Pat D’Arrigo ARTS Center and expose them to various arts experiences in the community.

Through our 3 core programs, ARTS annually serves 5,000 San Diego youth ages 3-22 from more than 42 partner organizations that include hospitals, foster care agencies, residential treatment facilities, homeless and domestic violence shelters, schools and other social service agencies. ARTS also serves children in the general community who are facing their own personal struggles. These children are referred to us from doctors, therapists, counselors, and social workers.

It is the goal of ARTS to package what we do and scale it to reach even more children around world who are suffering and don’t have access to the arts. The ARTS Foundation is being created for these efforts.


ARTS Values are the guiding force for our culture: how we act & behave, make decisions, treat one another (staff, volunteers, kid’s, donors, vendors, and stakeholders), and keep ourselves accountable. It’s our internal compass to ensure we are on the right path.

Infuse creativity in everything we do; being innovative in our approaches and open to new ideas. Take risks and try new things. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and grow.

Be able to adapt in a changing environment – whether it’s a kids art project and or an organizational growth strategy. Don’t fear change – Embrace it, drive it and be able to capitalize on it.

Positivity and Fun
Work hard, play hard as a close knit family. Whether you are a student, volunteer, staff, vendor, or donor – all of us are working together towards a very positive goal – to transform kids lives through the arts. In doing so, we should have fun along the way and create an environment that is not only positive, safe, nurturing and supportive for kids – but for anyone who comes in touch with the organization.

Strong Relationships Built on Communication
All strong relationships are built on trust. We believe that trust is built on great communication. For us great communication is: Open, honest, clear, direct, respectful, and inclusive. Part of creating this type of communication and trust is to develop emotional connections and meaningful relationships. It’s important to always act with integrity in your relationships, to be compassionate, friendly, loyal, and to make sure that you do the right thing and treat your relationships well. The hardest thing to do is to build trust, but if the trust exists, you can accomplish so much more.

Resource Responsibility
Although we may work in a creative, flexible, fun and positive environment – we are extremely focused and serious when it comes to our operations and resource management. We truly value the financial resources our donors entrust in us and run our organization in the most cost efficient and effective way possible. We are committed to being responsible stewards of both the financial and human resources given to us, and strive to make every individual and dollar count.

We believe that a large part of success is brought about by being accountable. Saying what we’ll do, doing what we say and supporting others to do the same. If we fall short, we are humble enough to admit it, learn, and grow. Leadership does not have a title – everyone takes personal responsibility and leadership for themselves and their work. We also strongly believe in recognizing and celebrating everyone’s efforts and achievements. Trying your hardest with passion, commitment, and dedication will always be celebrated!