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Through the end of September, MFTA welcomes public school teachers to start the school year with free supplies to support their work across the curriculum

Queens, NY – Materials for the Arts (MFTA) - NYC’s premier creative reuse program for arts nonprofits, public schools, and City agencies - is pleased to announce its fifth annual Back to School Shopping Spree, which kicks off on Tuesday, August 27 and continues through the end of September. MFTA welcomes teachers to shop for a wide variety of donated materials to support their classroom needs, ranging from traditional office supplies to more unusual finds like life-sized mannequins or film props, in MFTA’s 35,000 square foot reuse warehouse to take back to the classroom, free of cost.

“MFTA is a beloved source of free art materials for NYC public school teachers year round,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl. “During the Back to School Shopping Spree, we want to remind our educators of this extraordinary resource, and invite them to stock up on supplies and infuse their lesson plans with fresh ideas as students get ready to return to the classroom. “

“Every year as back to school approaches, teachers have to make difficult decisions about which supplies to purchase for their classrooms, and art supplies often fall victim to tight budgets. Here in NYC, Materials for the Arts is proud to be the number one supplier of free materials to our public schools. Teachers should consider MFTA as a resource and make sure their school is a member so they can make an appointment to pick up free materials for back to school as well as all year long,” said MFTA Executive Director Harriet Taub.

Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer said, “Materials for the Arts is an incredible organization and member of the LIC community, and I am pleased to support their annual Back to School Shopping Spree. This is a fantastic initiative that supports our hardworking teachers and students and promotes sustainability all at once. I am thankful for all of MFTA’s efforts to reduce waste and increase education around creative reuse.”

Over the years, MFTA has become the “go to” place for teachers as they seek ways to engage with students and encourage innovation through creative projects across disciplines. During the 2019 Back to School Shopping Spree, MFTA is providing educators with resources to help teachers integrate creative learning activities into their lesson plans. NYC Department of Education teachers will receive a tote bag containing lesson plan ideas and information about MFTA’s education offerings.

Media interested in covering MFTA’s Back to School Kickoff are welcome to visit the warehouse during the following times on “shopping days.” Please contact to RSVP.

  • Aug. 27 – 10:30AM – 1:30PM
  • Aug. 29 – 2:30PM – 6:00PM
  • Sept. 3 – 10:30AM – 1:30PM
  • Sept. 5 – 2:30PM – 6:00PM
  • Sept. 10 – 10:30AM – 1:30PM
  • Sept. 12 – 2:30PM – 6:00PM
  • Sept. 17 – 10:30AM – 1:30PM
  • Sept. 19 – 2:30PM – 6:00PM
  • Sept. 17 – 10:30AM – 1:30PM
  • Sept. 19 – 2:30PM – 6:00PM
  • Sept. 24 – 10:30AM – 1:30PM
  • Sept. 26 – 2:30PM – 6:00PM

Images of the MFTA Warehouse are available here and may be credited to “Materials for the Arts.”

MFTA annually collects over 1.5 million pounds of materials which it provides to its member organizations, free of charge, from its 35,000 square foot warehouse. Thousands of NYC public school teachers, parent coordinators, and administrators receive supplies from MFTA to use in a variety of grades, disciplines, and programs. In Fiscal Year 2019, Materials for the Arts provided over $3 million worth of materials to NYC public schools, nearly a third of the total value of materials distributed that year.

Back-to-school season also provides an opportunity for teachers to learn about MFTA’s Education Center which offers creative reuse field trips, in-school residencies, and professional development classes for teachers. Fall professional development classes at MFTA will begin September 21. Teachers may earn P-Credits and CTLE hours for their participation. See more information about MFTA’s educational offerings here.

John Cloud Kaiser, MFTA’s Director of Education said, “When teachers bring hands-on projects to their students with free reusable materials, they can create more engagement across the curriculum, and students learn how to be resourceful in their own lives by exploring the creative possibilities in materials at home.”

John Miola, math teacher at PS 721 in Brooklyn, participated in MFTA professional development classes this summer and said, “The instructors at MFTA are extraordinary. The reuse concept is something I consider myself better experienced than most, but I am leaving here with a whole new collection of ideas.”

Teachers interested in shopping during the Back to School Shopping Spree are required to make an appointment on online at MFTA’s website. Shopping appointments are available every week on Tuesdays from 10:30am to 1:30pm and Thursdays from 2:30pm to 6:00pm. Educators must be registered through an NYC public school. If a teacher has not been added to their school’s MFTA account, they should contact their principal to be added.

About Materials for the Arts (MFTA)
A program of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, with support from the Department of Education and Friends of Materials for the Arts, MFTA is NYC’s largest reuse center supporting nonprofits with arts programming, public schools, and City agencies. On average MFTA collects over 1.5 million pounds of supplies each year which it provides, free of charge, to its member organizations. In addition to providing materials, MFTA has an Artist-in-Residence program and holds public events every third Thursday of the month which include gallery openings and community workshops. Learn more at

About NYC Department of Cultural Affairs
The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA) is dedicated to supporting and strengthening New York City’s vibrant cultural life. DCLA works to promote and advocate for quality arts programming and to articulate the contribution made by the cultural community to the City’s vitality. The Department represents and serves non-profit cultural organizations involved in the visual, literary, and performing arts; public-oriented science and humanities institutions including zoos, botanical gardens, and historic and preservation societies; and creative artists at all skill levels who live and work within the City’s five boroughs. DCLA also provides donated materials for arts programs offered by the public schools and cultural and social service groups, and commissions permanent works of public art at City-funded construction projects throughout the five boroughs. For more information, visit