Why Did the Parsons Foundation Give $250k to Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona?

The Bob and Renee Parsons Foundation recently awarded $250,000 to Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona. What's most striking about this announcement is the immediate and tangible effect of the funding. The gift will enable the program to take in an additional 1,300 children and sign up 100 more volunteers.

Before we take a closer look at the gift itself, it's worth talking about what the foundation, which was established by GoDaddy founder Bob Parsons, has been up to lately. Last year, IP looked at the work the foundation has been doing to create self-sustaining communities in Haiti, and earlier this year we highlighted its support of The Semper Fi Fund, a group that supports wounded and critically ill veterans. The foundation is primarily focused on issues pertaining to the Phoenix area, which brings us back to the Free Arts program.

The program aims to heal abused and homeless children through artistic expression. It provides services specifically for children who live in group homes, residential treatment centers, crisis centers and domestic violence and homeless shelters. In other words, it does incredibly valuable work by adopting a hybrid programming model that blends traditional arts education with social services. And at the end of the day, the grant provides two critical elements for the program's long-term success—the ability to grow and community-wide awareness.

As we previously noted, the funding will allow the program to radically expand their offerings in terms of serving more children and bringing on board more volunteers. But the foundation is also helping get the word out. Free Arts will host a reception in tandem with the foundation in June to raise more awareness and to celebrate the organization's 20th anniversary.

All of this brings us to our initial question: Why did Parsons give a quarter of a million dollars to Free Arts? Beyond the obvious fact that the program serves a tremendously important role in the lives of hundreds of Arizona children, the two groups also have a track record of working together. For example, in 2013, the Foundation supported and facilitated the creation of a video that illustrated the "transformational healing" offered by Free Arts. The Foundation was clearly impressed by the work they did (and, most certainly, the program's financial and organizational acumen). So, this gift didn't come out of the blue. 

Lastly, Free Arts offers an impressive set of program offerings, ranging from a weekly mentor program that places children with volunteers in a one-on-one capacity and "Free Art Days," a one-day experience that exposes children to an array of art expressions and many of Phoenix’s major arts and culture venues.