“Cuala’s work brings consciousness that can transform a young woman’s life: she’s never been shown or asked to do anything like this before.”

Cuala Foundation believes that the measure of a society is how it takes care of its people. We work to transform disadvantage into disadvantage through culture. The mental and emotional distress that can result in suicide, self-harm, addiction and isolation is often related to intergenerational trauma, and the reasons for this are historical and complex. Like our sister organization Cuala Group in Ireland, we develop new systems self-care with youth and communities on the Lower East Side, connecting people more deeply with themselves, their communities, history and hope: cultivating a culture of belonging and developing economic potential.

These two statistics about Irish women, spanning over a century, are important for understanding the impact of historical trauma:

  • Of all the emigrant groups that arrived into New York Harbor throughout the 19th century what was egregious about the Irish was the overwhelming amount of women who came alone: 10 women for every 8 men, mostly aged 15-24.
  • Today, Ireland has the highest rate of suicide in Europe for young women and girls aged 15-24.

Most of those we serve are young women and girls. Looking at how women’s voices have been historically suppressed or ignored, we have developed actionable programs that encourage and facilitate young women to express themselves in ways that are empowering.

Cuala Express Yourself Project in Rialto, Summer 2018

Cuala Express Yourself Project in Monaghan, Summer 2018

Cuala Express Yourself Project in Donegal, Summer 2018


Cuala’s CULTURE WARRIORS program recognizes that creative, expressive youth are essential, important and needed within their communities, and builds belonging by engaging youth in creative expression that is connected to their community. Our participants immerse themselves in the culture, story, song and history of their community in order to expand the scope of their perspective beyond the present, and positively impact their understanding of their potential. They develop social emotional skills such as empathy, courage and resilience, and are encourages to value learning and the process of change, what makes them unique, and to speak up for what is right and fair.

Our LIVING HISTORY PLAQUES project honors ‘Culture Warriors’ within their communities as part of Cuala’s work with youth and communities to cultivate a culture of belonging by connecting youth more deeply with their local culture and community history.

CUALA MUSIC builds belonging through learning, songwriting and performance. It is a program and platform that focuses on creative expression, showcasing young songwriters and spoken word artists, and facilitating them to collaboratively develop their craft through workshops that inform about social justice history, performances in community spaces and recording sessions.

We host EXHIBITIONS such as #IamIrish at New York Irish Center as part of CualaNYC in 2018 that broke new ground for visibility of Irish people who are also mixed race. Our festival SHEBEENS on Women, Teanga (language), and LGBTQ create belonging and identity with stories, songs, political conversations and poetry: a meeting space beyond the mainstream.