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How Materials for the Arts Helps Teachers

Jun 03, 2011

As budgets get tighter and tighter, some teachers are seeking creative ways to get badly needed supplies. In New York City, schools can get assistance from the non-profit organization Materials for the Arts (MFTA).

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By Jessica Lyons

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What is MFTA?

MFTA, which was founded in 1978, is part of New York City's Department of Cultural Affairs. The organization accepts donations in exchange for tax deductions. The items they receive include fabric, office furniture and supplies, computers, household items, paper, projectors and screens, poster board, frames and home decorating supplies.

All of these donations are then placed in MFTA's warehouse, located in Long Island City, Queens. Groups, not individuals, register with the organization, which makes them eligible to visit the warehouse and select items. Among those who benefit from MFTA include non-profit arts and cultural organizations, public schools and community arts programs. Private and religious schools are able to join MFTA if they have arts programs that are ongoing and open to the public. To register, these groups must be located in New York City.

Since the organization was created, more than 12,500 donors have gotten involved. In addition, it has over 4,000 recipient groups.

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Working With Schools

For more than 14 years now, MFTA has been working with the city's Department of Education. Once public schools register, their teachers can go to the warehouse after making appointments. There, they can browse the aisles to see what they can find to use in their classrooms. According to MFTA's website, this process and the donations can result in providing 'students with a richer educational experience.'

The Benefits

First and foremost, MFTA aids in filling the gap between classroom budgets and classroom expenses. Schools and their teachers have a place to turn when they need to find teaching supplies. In addition, the amount of waste in New York City is being reduced. Rather than throwing out unwanted items, they are being donated so that someone else can make good use out of them.

According to Board of Directors Chair Bonnie Weissblatt Weill, 'Each year MFTA provides over 1 million pounds of materials valued at more than $7 million to New Yorkers via arts, education, community services and government organizations.'

Learn more about K-12 education in the U.S. with President Obama's reforms to No Child Left Behind.

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