Founded in 1977, Free Arts partners with domestic violence shelters, housing programs, and after school initiatives throughout Los Angeles to deliver therapeutic art programs and adult mentors to children. Programs are developed with the input of an Art Therapist, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Child Psychologist and Elementary School Art Teacher. 


Adult facilitators follow a pre-set curricula designed to help children feel safe, understand and express their emotions and restore self-esteem and hope. All mentors and facilitators complete a training course prior to mentoring children. 

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Children who live with abuse and poverty typically experience extremely low resiliency, self-esteem, and hope. They are likely to grow up and unwittingly repeat the patterns of behavior in which they were raised, experiencing mental illness, addiction, abusive relationships and criminal behavior as adults. Most will not go to college and many will never graduate high school, putting their futures at risk.

Studies show that engaging in art - dance, music, drawing, painting, writing or other - restores hope, resiliency and self-esteem in children and adults. Art has been found to uniquely help certain areas of the brain develop in children, particular areas related to critical thinking and other skills needed for a successful future.




Joan Ford has more than fifteen years of leadership and fundraising experience in the nonprofit community in Los Angeles, including CEO, Executive Direction and VP of Fundraising since 1999. Her expertise in fundraising, strategic planning, and managing teams has improved revenue, morale, visibility, efficiency and efficacy for numerous nonprofit throughout LA. Joan is a 1995 graduate of UCLA's Management and has completely trainings at the Center for Creative Leadership, Grantsmanship Center and Indiana University School of Fundraising.




Tom has a personal mission to create a world free from all forms of discrimination through art, leadership development, and inclusion. Since graduating from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee with a Bachelors in Africology, Tom has spent the past 4 years working in anti-discrimination leadership development. From 2011-2012, Tom served as an AmeriCorps VISTA at Community Tampa Bay, where he facilitated and managed youth leadership and diversity education programs. After moving to California, Tom began working at the Museum of Tolerance, where he facilitates tours and provides tools used in tolerance programs for students and educators. He also volunteers as the Youth Coordinator with Muslims for Progressive Values, where he organizes youth-centered open mics and interfaith dialogue. Tom has had the honor of using art as a vehicle for change, performing and facilitating workshops nationwide at venues such as juvenile detention facilities, crisis centers, justice and advocacy rallies, and national poetry competitions. He has also provided keynote presentations at several universities. Tom believes in the power of art, but knows that it alone cannot heal, which is why he is passionate about cultivating Free Arts mentors in his role as a volunteer coordinator.



With ambitious dreams, Karol received B.A. in Child Development in June of 2016. Karol is always exploring different ways to get involved in her community, focusing on providing support and positive interactions with children through volunteer opportunities with local preschools, childcare centers and other organizations. Karol began with Free Arts as a volunteer and soon became an Intern at the Courthouse Program. She served as President of the Child Development Association at Cal State Los Angeles for a year and is currently the Vice President. She always finds ways to keep her hands busy and is always excited to meet new people. Karol's next goal is to get her Masters Degree in Special Education for Early Childhood. Although she is extremely goal oriented, she still manages to keep close relationship with friends and family, and have fun exploring the world.


Free Arts has an open policy of complete transparency. Below are the most recent 990, annual audit and 501c3 letter. If you require more documentation please email or call 310.313.4278.