826 Boston kicked off its programming in the spring of 2007 by inviting authors Steve Almond, Holly Black, Junot Díaz, and Kelly Link to lead writing workshops at the English High School. The visiting writers challenged students to modernize fairy tales, invent their ideal school, and tell their stories. Since then, 826 Boston has enlisted and trained 2,500 volunteers to provide writing support to more than 13,000 underserved youth from Roxbury, Dorchester, and Jamaica Plain.
Read This Poem
In celebration of National Poetry Month 2015, the Academy of American Poets teamed up with 826 National, a youth writing organization, to produce Read This Poem, a celebration of poets in cities with 826 chapters: Ann Arbor/Detroit, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.
Each 826 chapter named a local Poetry Ambassador who selected a poem written by a poet in their community and wrote a short essay about it. The Poetry Ambassador then asked the poet to do the same (select a poem by a local poet and write about it), and so on, creating a kind of poetry chain. Local poets supported 826 chapters in a variety of ways, including volunteering. The poems were revealed each Wednesday during the month of April. The Academy of American Poets and 826 National regularly collaborate to distribute lesson plans to teachers interested in bringing poetry into their classrooms, and by inviting students from 826 centers to participate in National Poetry Month education projects.
Read This Poem was inspired by The McSweeney's Book of Poets Picking Poets, published by McSweeney's in 2007.
826CHI opened its writing lab and tutoring center on Chicago’s northwest side in 2005. The setting is both culturally lively and teeming with schools: within one mile, there are fifteen public schools comprising more than 16,000 students. Its storefront, The Wicker Park Secret Agent Supply Co., sells nothing of interest and is certainly not an outlet for spy equipment.
826DC, and its storefront, The Museum of Unnatural History, opened in October 2010, and serves students all over the District of Columbia. The center is based in the Columbia Heights neighborhood, one of the most densely populated neighborhoods in the city. 826DC is projected to serve more than 4,000 students this school year.
826LA benefits greatly from the wealth of cultural and artistic resources in the Los Angeles area. Since opening, they’ve provided thousands of hours of free one-on-one writing instruction. They’ve sent volunteers into schools all over Los Angeles, held summer camps for English language learners, given students sportswriting training in the Lakers press room, and published love poems written from the perspective of leopards. In 2013, they launched their first satellite site at Manual Arts Senior High School to expand their reach to students in South Los Angeles.
826michigan opened its doors on June 1, 2005. 826michigan serves students all over southeastern Michigan, hosting in-schools residencies and workshops in classrooms in Wayne and Washtenaw Counties. They also have a packed workshop schedule on-site every semester, with offerings that range in topic from making pop-up books to writing sonnets to creating screenplays to producing infomercials and more. The Liberty Street Robot Supply & Repair store opened in May of 2008.
826NYC’s writing center opened its doors in Park Slope in September 2004. In the 2013-14 school year, their programs offered over 2,300 students with opportunities to improve their writing and to work side-by-side with community volunteers. They also have a satellite tutoring center in Williamsburg, created in partnership with the Brooklyn Public Library, which has introduced their programs to an entirely new community of students.
Named for its location in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District, 826 Valencia opened on April 8, 2002 and consists of a writing lab, a street-front student-friendly retail pirate store that partially funds the programs, and three satellite classrooms in nearby elementary, middle, and high schools. Since opening their doors, thousands of volunteers—including college students, published authors, magazine founders, retired educators, documentary filmmakers and other professionals—have donated their time to work with tens of thousands of students. These incredible volunteers allow 826 to offer all of their services for free.
826 National is a nonprofit organization that provides strategic leadership, administration, and other resources to ensure the success of its network of seven writing and tutoring centers. 826 centers offer a variety of inventive programs that provide under-resourced students, ages 6 to 18, with opportunities to explore their creativity and improve their writing skills. 826 also aims to help teachers get their students excited about writing. The 826 mission is based on the understanding that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention, and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success. Last year, 826 National centers served over 32,000 students.