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826 National

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth

Mission: 826 National is a nonprofit organization that provides strategic leadership, administration, and other resources to ensure the success of its network of eight writing and tutoring centers. 826 centers offer a variety of inventive programs that provide under-resourced students, ages 6-18, with opportunities to explore their creativity and improve their writing skills. We also aim to help teachers get their classes excited about writing. Our 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 our tutoring centers — located in Ann Arbor, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, DC — served over 31,000 students.

Target demographics: Under resourced, low income young people between the ages of 6-18 in 8 cities in the United States

Direct beneficiaries per year: In 2011-2012 school year - 31,000 students

Geographic areas served: San Francisco, CA New York, NY Los Angeles, CA Seattle, WA Chicago, IL Boston, MA Ann Arbor & Detroit, MI Washington DC

Programs: Our core programs are: After-School Tutoring Know a student who gets chills over Robert Frost? Has a science report on planets that’s got her stumped? 826 is here to help! At least four days a week, 826 centers offer students one-on-one help with homework, regardless of subject. After homework is completed, students are encouraged to spend thirty minutes reading with their tutors, and a final hour is dedicated to writing. In the summer, many of our centers cater exclusively to English language learners. An English writing resort? Now that sounds like our kind of summer vacation. Field Trips Like the plucky pirates and superheroes that inspire our storefronts, 826 students seek the thrill of adventure. Several times a week, entire classes journey to 826 for a two-hour interactive, high-energy writing event, like our signature Storytelling & Bookmaking program. As a group, students compose an original story, crafting plot and character points. Students go home with personalized books, not to mention a deepened sense of storytelling, bookmaking and collaboration. Oh yes, and it’s fun! In-Schools Projects As much as we love stretching the bounds of imagination, we are realists when it counts. We recognize that not all students can visit 826 centers personally, so our chapters also dispatch teams of volunteers to local public schools on a regular basis. Per teacher request, 826 sends volunteers into classrooms to provide one-on-one assistance to students tackling writing projects, like articles for the school newspaper, oral histories, or college entrance essays. We know the quality of student work is greatly enhanced when shared with an authentic audience, so 826 is committed to publishing our students’ work, with quarterlies, chapbooks, and ‘zines. Young Authors’ Publishing Project Our programs are not in a popularity contest—we love them all equally—but if they were, our annual Young Authors’ Publishing Project would most likely be homecoming queen. For the project, 826 matches a well-known guest author to work closely with teachers and students at a school for the semester, as they write and edit student pieces that are eventually collected and professionally published. Adult writers and editors volunteer throughout the process, and when the book is completed, the guest author (who also writes the introduction to the book) hosts a public reading with the newly published authors. Take a sneak peek at exactly what goes into one of our book projects during this video clip from 826 Valencia's 2008-2009 book project, Show of Hands: Young Authors Reflect on the Golden Rule. Workshops Perhaps a more aptly suited title would be fun-shops. With free workshops like cartooning, bookmaking, playwriting, and producing a ‘zine, 826 workshops don’t always feel like work. (And we do like retitling traditional workshops, like our Personal Statement Bootcamp workshops in honor of college entrance applications). We provide in-depth instruction in areas that many schools may not provide in their curriculum. All workshops are project-based and taught by experienced, accomplished professionals that may provide under-resourced students with mentorships they likely wouldn’t have otherwise.

Community Stories

4 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


Rating: 4

While my work schedule doesn't allow me time to volunteer, I am proud to be a donor to 826 DC. Creative writing and self-expression are key for young minds to tap into their talents and dreams, and 826 DC provides an unparalleled service to kids in this city that frequently feel like they don't have a voice, and that no one wants to hear it. 826DC encourages students to speak their truth and to spare what will hopefully be a lifelong affair with words and storytelling.


Rating: 5

I've had a great experience in my 2+ years' volunteering for the Washington, DC branch of 826. I was able to begin when the branch first opened in 2010 and have been coming in once or twice a month ever since to work with students in the after school tutoring program. The staff is very welcoming and personable and the kids always amaze me with their creativity. It has been great seeing how far the students have come in such a short period of time. I've also enjoyed seeing the impact 826DC has made in the larger literary and non-profit community of DC. Everywhere I go in the area I find people who have heard about 826DC and the good work they are doing through their after school tutoring sessions, in-house field trips, and outreach efforts to local elementary schools. It's hard to imagine the city without them!



Rating: 5

One sunny Saturday in early October, I volunteered at Personal Statement Weekend at 826 Valencia, in San Francisco. During the training beforehand, the volunteer coordinator told us we'd have two hours to work one-on-one with a high school student on his or her college entrance essay. I had to stop myself from asking, "Isn't that a little long?" I'm glad I did, because the two hours flew by -- and we ended up working for longer. I haven't had an experience so rewarding, creative, challenging, and inspiring in a long time. Tutoring made me seriously reconsider what I want to do with my life. It made me realize that I want to find a job that makes me feel the way tutoring at 826 makes me feel -- like the world can be a good, happy place, and that I can be a contributor to those things.


Rating: 5

826 National is a tremendous network of nonprofits. I've volunteered at three different centers, and not only is the impact on the kids tremendous - you can see the confidence instilled in them from the one-on-one volunteer attention and from the emphasis on publishing their writing - the staff is excellent as well. They go out of their way to make sure volunteers are appreciated, and they create a fun and supportive atmosphere that makes you want to return, week after week, year after year.