Back-to-school events in the Twin Cities — free backpacks, school supplies & more (updated)

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

In a child’s mind, summer seems to last forever. But the launch of the Minnesota State Fair next week is a sure sign that the end of summer is nigh as is the start of another school year.

The National Retail Federation is forecasting record-breaking spending on back to school items this year. Families with children in elementary school through high school plan to spend nearly $700 in 2019 — the highest amount on record. But with a little planning, the savvy shopper can save a buck or two by taking advantage of deals and giveaways. 

Below find back to school savings and resources, from traditional needs like backpacks, supplies, and haircuts to goodbye-to-summer fun.

August 17

2nd Annual Back to School Carnival

1-5 pm @ North Community YMCA, 1711 W Broadway Ave., Mpls.

Get into the back to school spirit at this second annual event hosted at the Harold Mezile North Community YMCA. In partnership with the Second Chance Outreach and KMOJ radio station, the event offers free backpacks on a first-come-first-served basis if attendees haven’t registered (registration deadline was Aug. 14).
Go here for more info.

August 19

HWMR Presents: Back-to-school haircuts, books and fun

10 am-4pm @ HWMR, 1500 44th Ave. N., Mpls

Houston White Men’s Room has teamed up with the Hennepin County Library to provide free haircuts just in time for school. Barbers will be providing quick cuts like basic undercuts, buzz cuts, and fades for kids ages 8-18. Grab a free book and snack while you’re here. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to register their kids online as spots are limited.

More info here.

August 20

Southside Backpack and School Supply Giveaway

4-6:30 pm @ Minneapolis Public Schools New Families Center, 3345 Chicago Ave., Mpls. 

Courtesy of the Greater Twin Cities United Way, Minneapolis Public School (MSP) students K-12 will be able to take home backpacks filled with school supplies. Up to 500 backpacks will be given out. 

This event is open only to MPS students and student ID numbers will be requested at the time of pickup. Students can find their ID by logging into the Parent or Student Portal on

More info here.

August 22

Northside Backpack and School Supply Giveaway

4:6:30 pm @ 1250 Broadway Ave., Mpls.

One of two events courtesy of Greater Twin Cities United Way,  this backpack giveaway will provide up to 500 backpacks filled with supplies for K-12 MSP students. This event is open only to MPS students and student ID numbers will be requested at the time of pickup. Students can find their ID by logging into the Parent or Student Portal on

More info here .

August 23

Back to School Bash

6:30-8:30 pm @ New Creation Baptist Church, 1414 E. 48th St., Mpls.

In addition to free school supplies and backpacks, families can fellowship with food, door prizes and more.

More info here.

August 24

MN Black Love Presents: Backpack Giveaway

12-4 @ Phelps Park, 701 East 39th St., Mpls.

With a goal of provided 300 backpacks to students, this community gathering offers food and live entertainment on a first-come-first-served basis.

More info here.

August 24

Zumba Back-To-School Bash

2 pm @ Crystal Community Center, 4800 Douglas Dr. N., Crystal

Make going back to school fun at this family event sponsored by Crystal Community Center and Remixed Events, and presented by Seeds to Identity. Bring the kids out for free school supplies, games, food, and prizes. 

More info here.

August 25 

STIM Back-to-School Backpack Giveaway & Back to School Prayer

1-2:30 pm @ Shiloh Temple International Ministries, 1201 W. Broadway Ave., Mpls.

Shiloh Temple is offering free backpacks along with a back to school prayer for the kids.

More info here.

August 28

COPS in the Park – Back to School

5-8pm @ Southview Park, Southview Park 275 Westview Dr., West St. Paul

Join with other community members for an end-of-summer party sponsored by Community Outreach with Public Safety (COPS). Organizers hope to provide a festive and laid back environment for the community to get to know the public safety staff. Attendees will leave with backpacks filled with school supplies. Food and drink will also be offered.

More info here.

August 31

2nd Annual Back 2 School BBQ w/Free School Supplies

11 am- 6 pm @ Eastview Recreation Center, 1675 E 5th St., St. Paul

Savor the last weekend of the summer with the kids before they go back to school. Enjoy BBQ, beverages, shopping with local vendors, children’s activities and games, plus live music from DJ Dendera and a performance by the SOILD Dance Team. An auction and backpack giveaway with school supplies will take place towards the end of the event.

More info here.

August 31

Back 2 School Jam

3-8 pm @ Hamline Park on Snelling, 1564 Lafond Ave., St. Paul

Enjoy live music, a 3on3 basketball tournament for ages 6-18, double dutch, free food from Katie’s Kitchen, hair cuts, an eye screening and, of course, free backpacks and school supplies.

More info here.

Know of more events that offer schools supplies or resources? Let us know in the comments or email