Free back to school supplies in Indianapolis

Current Events & News | 07/25/2019

Brieanna Quinn
Director of Marketing, Communications and Development

The school year is just around the corner and that means back-to-school shopping for school supplies and clothes/uniforms. Sometimes, it feels like this time of year can break the bank, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are some options for free or low cost back-to-school needs:

Community Events:

Back to School Block Party-Indianapolis Urban League.

Saturday, July 27th 10:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. | Indiana Convention Center, 100 S. Capitol Ave, Indianapolis

From the website: As with every year, this year’s event will distribute 3000 backpacks filled with school supplies to students in grades K-12 on Saturday, July 27th from 10am-1pm! This year, we will not only have a LIVE DJ, FREE FOOD, FAMILY FUN, FREE CHILDREN’S SHOES, AND FREE HEALTH SCREENINGS, we will also have the Urban Farmers Market!

EMCC Leadership & Legacy Center end of summer bash!

Saturday, July 27th 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. | 2259 N Ralston Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46218

From the website: You’re invited to join the EMCC Leadership & Legacy Center staff on Saturday, July 27th from 10am to 2pm. We’re providing backpacks, supplies and lots of resources for our families. As we close out summer camp, shed light on our Senior Angels Program, celebrate our second Preschool Ministry opening and the awesomeness that is KIPP Indy Legacy High opening very soon, we want to celebrate!

Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) and the Indiana Historical Society (IHS) Back to School Festival

Saturday, August 3rd 10:00 a.m.– 3:00 p.m. | Indiana Historical Society- 450 W Ohio Street, Indianapolis, IN

From the Website: IPS and IHS have teamed up again to ensure district students of all ages put their best feet forward for the school year. The event is free and open to all IPS students and parents. Free backpacks, free food, free supplies and so much more!


For more school events, including events for specific schools, see this IndyStar article for the breakdown.


Beyond the above festivals, there are some nonprofits that donate directly to schools. If you’re not sure if your child’s school offers these, ask about:


Operation School Bell is a program through the Assistance League of Indianapolis that donates items directly to some schools.  According to their website, this program “offers three distinct programs that provide new clothing and athletic shoes to children that live in poverty, helping them to arrive at school ready to learn.” If you aren’t sure if your child’s school knows about this program, call them to find out.

Indy BackPack Attack is another program that donates supplies directly to schools. According to their website, they help “students get the tools essential to learn and be successful in the classroom by holding a 6-week school supply drive each summer with local businesses and organizations throughout the Indianapolis Metropolitan area.” Indy BackPack Attack partners directly with Indianapolis Public Schools to distribute supplies to students in need.

If none of the above options work out for you and you still need to find school supplies, try contacting your church. Many churches in the area donate school supplies, backpacks, and uniforms to their members.

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