Arts & Scraps

(Photo courtesy of Arts & Scraps)

Educating & Inspiring: Hands-On Learning with Arts & Scraps in the D


The city of Detroit and its surrounding areas are chock-full of organizations looking to make the area a better place. One nonprofit in particular is truly working to make a difference in Detroit and beyond. Arts & Scraps is a 501(c)3 organization connecting education, business and community by reusing recycled industrial materials for learning purposes.

“Our mission is to reimagine industrial scraps,” Peg Upmeyer, director of Arts & Scraps, said. “We go out and collect 28 tons of stuff, and use it with kids, so they think and they learn by action instead of just memorization.”

Upmeyer and a few colleagues began the organization in 1989, in an effort to find a different way to educate local children.

“Three of us were teachers and saw the resources, energy and ideas people need to keep going every day to work with kids,” Upmeyer said. “So we thought if we could pull back from what we were doing and provide affordable materials and ideas, we could probably make a bigger impact on more kids than just teaching the kids that came by our faces. It was really to help anybody working with kids.”

Arts & Scraps

(Photo courtesy of Arts & Scraps)

While the organization serves 275,000 children and targets kids living in low income areas, it also educates adults. Arts & Scraps hosts team building activities for corporations, adult training, teacher training and group leader training.

Arts & Scraps also offers a plethora of programs. The organization has a community store open 19 hours a week. Individuals/families looking to work on a project have a chance to fill up a grocery bag full of materials for $8. The store has more than 300 materials to choose from! There is also ScrapVille, which sets up interactive stations open to the public during store hours. In addition, the organization offers kits, community events, field trips, workshops and much more.

There are many ways to get involved with Arts & Scraps. You can donate online, donate materials, donate your time by volunteering or donate through your everyday actions by signing up for online rewards at stores such as Kroger.

“We use 10,000 volunteer hours a year. People can drop into the store to help or they can get a group to come to the warehouse and pack kits on an assembly line,” Upmeyer said. “There are also real simple ways remotely that people can make a difference financially that doesn’t cost them anything, just a bit of time.”

By using recycled materials and hands-on learning for children and adults, Arts & Scraps is changing the landscape of how we learn. Visit the official website for more information.