“We see DrawBridge as a crucial part of the kids’ recovery.
Thank you for all that you give!”

Maya, Site Coordinator


Expressive Arts Framework

At the core of DrawBridge’s effectiveness is our innovative expressive art programs for homeless and other underserved children. Through drawing, painting, sculpture, collage and other modalities, feelings experienced by traumatized children can be made accessible. Trained DrawBridge group facilitators support the children in transforming these emotions into joy, self-confidence and hope.

Self-expression during and immediately after homelessness helps relieve the negative impact of the experience and can free the child to dream of and have positive life experiences. Through art, children can more easily express deeply felt, difficult emotions. For these kids, who may be unable to put words to their experiences, the act of producing art has a proven, powerful healing impact.

Underlying Principles

The basic premise of DrawBridge art groups is to provide a safe and supportive environment for each child’s own expression. Our approach is to allow children to establish their own direction, pace and depth of self-exploration. Besides offering an encouraging and non-judgmental presence, DrawBridge facilitators interact honestly, respect and adapt to each child’s needs, maintain boundaries, and draw attention to the child’s experience, rather than his or her artwork. Avoiding expectations, we believe that there is nothing that needs to be fixed.

Art Program Format

Groups meet once a week for one to two hours at the shelter, transitional house, or low-income housing complex where the children are living. The facilitator and a volunteer often prepare an art project, but the children are free to do whatever art-making they choose.

Thanks to our donors, a wide range of quality art materials are provided. This shows the children that they are cared for and valued, and helps to restore a sense of self-worth.

There are times that something deeply emotional arises from the art the child is creating. DrawBridge art group facilitators and volunteers are trained to gently listen to the story the art is telling. They strive not to praise the children, but to offer support and help them explore and enjoy the process of making art.

DrawBridge’s consistency, showing up week after week, month after month, lets these children know that there actually is something that they can count on in their lives.

If you are interested in volunteering in a DrawBridge art group, please visit our Volunteer page to learn more.


To bring DrawBridge art programs to children right where they live, we partner with homeless shelters, safe houses, emergency housing (where families stay up to three months), transitional housing (up to 2 years), and long-term low-income housing facilities throughout the Bay Area. We keep in close contact with each site about the art group and the health and well-being of each of its young participants. Some sites are able to pay a small fee for our program services, but many are not. Some are underwritten by outside funders. All are treated equally, and receive the same quality program regardless of ability to pay.  There is never a fee to the families involved.

DrawBridge is currently presented at the following partner sites:

San Francisco County

1180 Fourth Street (Supportive housing)

280 Beale Street Apartments (Affordable housing)

626 Mission Bay  (Supportive housing)

Bayview Hills Garden (Apartments for formerly homeless people)

Clara House (Transitional housing)

Columbia Park (Long-term, low-income housing)

Dream Project

Hamilton Family Emergency Center (Emergency housing)

Jones Street Apartments (Long-term, low-income housing)

St. Joseph Family Center (Transitional housing)

Marin County

Canal – Seasons of Peace (Community Center)

Center for Domestic Peace (Safe House)

Family Resource Center/Homeward Bound (2 programs,  Transitional housing)

OMA Village (Affordable Housing)

Alameda County

East Oakland Community Project (Transitional housing)

Harrison House (Family shelter; interim housing)

Sonoma County

COTS Kids First Family Shelter (Emergency housing)

COTS Vida Nueva (affordable housing)

San Mateo County

Family Crossroads (LifeMoves)

Haven Family House (LifeMoves)

School House (Long-term, low-income housing)

Santa Clara County

Kings Crossing (Apartments for formerly homeless people)

Santa Cruz

Neary Lagoon (Transitional housing)

Sycamore Housing (Transitional housing)

Inspiring Creativity, Joy and Self-Confidence