“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 children who are underserved or experiencing homelessness. Through drawing, painting, sculpture, collage and other modalities, feelings experienced by DrawBridge kids can be made accessible. Trained DrawBridge group facilitators support the children in transforming these emotions into joy and self-confidence.

Self-expression during and immediately after homelessness can help relieve the negative impact of the experience, freeing the child to dream and conjure positive life experiences. Through art, children can more easily express deeply felt, difficult emotions. For 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 allows children to establish their own direction, pace of creation and depth of self-exploration. In addition to offering encouragement and a 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 in a child that needs fixing.

Art Program Format

Groups meet once a week for one to two hours wherever 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 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 are, we partner with shelters, safe houses, emergency housing (where families stay up to three months), transitional housing (up to 2 years), long-term housing facilities and community centers throughout the Bay Area. We keep in close contact with each site about the art group and well-being of each young participant. Some sites are able to pay a small fee for our services, and some are underwritten by outside funders, but the majority of sites are served at no cost. Regardless, all are treated equally and receive the same quality program. There is never a fee to the families who participate.

DrawBridge arts programming is presented at these 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, affordable housing)
Dream Program
Hamilton Family Emergency Center (Emergency housing)
Jones Street Apartments (Long-term, affordable 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 (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, affordable housing)
Santa Clara County
Kings Crossing (Apartments for formerly homeless families)
Santa Cruz
Neary Lagoon (Transitional housing)
Sycamore Housing (Transitional housing)