Matt D’Arrigo ’95 to speak at Spring Hill College commencement

Thu, 03/13/2014 - 10:00am

Matt D’Arrigo, founder and CEO of San Diego-based ARTS (A Reason to Survive), will be the keynote speaker at Spring Hill College’s commencement ceremony, set for 10 a.m. Saturday, May 10 on the Avenue of the Oaks.

D’Arrigo is also the recipient of this year’s Ignatian Award, presented to an alumnus in recognition of community service in keeping with the ideals set forth by St. Ignatius Loyola. The Ignatian Award is the highest honor the College bestows upon its alumni. D’Arrigo will receive the award at commencement.

A 1995 Spring Hill graduate, D'Arrigo founded the organization in 2001 out of his garage as an outreach effort to bring therapeutic arts projects to children and families at San Diego Ronald McDonald House and Rady's Children's Hospital.

ARTS has grown into a nationally recognized full service arts agency for youth offering visual, performing, media, literary and industrial arts in a long-term, sequential program model based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: therapeutic arts programs, arts education, and college and career preparation. It’s a one-stop shop using the arts and creativity to bring kids from crisis to college or career, not only giving them A Reason To Survive but also A Reason To Succeed. ARTS continues their outreach programs to hospitals, shelters, group homes, and schools, and has added a 20,000-square-foot ARTS Center, Transportation Service (Van Go!), ARTS Enterprises, and Community Beautification Projects.

Through all of their programs and services, ARTS works directly with more than 2,500 children and youth annually facing terminal & chronic illness, homelessness, abuse, foster care, physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral challenges, socio-economic challenges and many other life challenges.

In the past year ARTS has been in the national spotlight when a documentary on one of their students, “Inocente,” won the 2013 Academy Award for “Best Documentary: Short Subject.” They were also a case study in the New York Times best selling book "Decisive" by Chip and Dan Heath and featured on The Today Show.


For more information about ARTS, visit

To learn more about Matt D’Arrigo, read the feature in the summer 2013 issue of the Spring Hill College Magazine:

Watch his TEDx Talk at