The Evidence Portal

Art from Ashes (AfA) Phoenix Rising poetry workshops

About the program

The Art from Ashes (AfA) Phoenix Rising poetry workshops guide youth to write and perform poetry around different themes and topics. It was developed to provide interactive and creative workshops to high-risk youth to facilitate expression, connection, and transformation.

The Phoenix Rising workshops aim to:

  • Introduce poetry into work with youth that is therapeutic rather than skills-based
  • Stimulate creativity
  • Increase self-confidence
  • Encourage participation in a group-setting
  • Promote greater respect among youth of diverse cultures and backgrounds; and,
  • Promote greater respect for literature

Who does it work for?

Phoenix Rising workshops are designed for high-risk youth aged 11-14. Phoenix Rising has only been evaluated in the USA. A quasi-experimental design study (Forrest-Bank et al. 2016) was conducted with 40 participants (23 in intervention group and 17 in control group).

The Phoenix Rising workshops have been evaluated in the USA with high-risk youth living in public housing neighbourhoods with high rates of crime and poverty. The study was conducted with 40 ethnically diverse participants. The majority of the intervention group were African (47%) and 12 years old on average, and most of the control group were Latino (52%) and 13 years old on average. Just over half of the intervention group were male (52%) and just over one third of the control group were male (35%).

Phoenix Rising workshops have not been evaluated in Australia or with Aboriginal Australians.

What outcomes does it contribute to?

Positive outcomes:

  • Participants in the Phoenix Rising workshops scored better on measures of social competency.

How effective is it?

Overall, the Phoenix Rising workshop a positive effect on client outcomes.

How strong is the evidence?

Promising research evidence:

  • At least one high-quality randomised controlled trial (RCT)/quasi-experimental design (QED) study reports statistically significant positive effects for at least one outcome, AND
  • Fewer RCT/QED studies of similar size and quality show no observed effects than show statistically significant positive effects, AND
  • No RCT/QED studies show statistically significant adverse effects.

How is it implemented?

The Phoenix Rising program is delivered in person in 2 hour sessions twice per week over the course of 4 weeks.

As a community-oriented program, it is important for Phoenix Rising to be delivered locally to those receiving the intervention.

The Phoenix Rising workshops follow a structured curriculum and include topics such as identity, legacy and childhood experiences. At the beginning of every workshop the tone is set by a guest poet to inspire and provide a positive example to the youth. Following the guest’s performance, participants are provided a prompt on which the youth could free write for 3 min, after which they could share their poems with the rest of the group. The repetition of writing and sharing happened 3-6 times per workshop, depending on group and time limitations. Each workshop was concluded by a performance from the guest poet.

Participants are encouraged to be respectful and supportive of one another to fostering a safe forum for expression and group cohesion. Youth complete the program with a performance of their work at the end of the 4 weeks to which their parents and youth from the other neighbourhood are invited.

How much does it cost?

Program costs are not reported for Phoenix Rising.

What else should I consider?

Include other relevant information about the program. This could include referral requirements, training necessary for staff, limitations of the program and/or studies, etc.

Where does the evidence come from?

1 QED conducted in the USA with a sample of 40 people (Forrest-Bank et al., 2016)

Further resources

Forrest-Bank, SS, Nicotera, N, Bassett, DM, & Ferrarone, P 2016, ‘Effects of an expressive art intervention with urban youth in low-income neighborhoods’, Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal, vol. 33, pp. 429-441, DOI 10.1007/s10560-016-0439-3,

Further information about the Phoenix Rising program can be found here:  

Last updated:

08 Dec 2022

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