About 826 National

Founded in 2002 by award-winning author Dave Eggers and award-winning educator Nínive Calegari, 826 Valencia inspired a network of creative writing and tutoring centers now seven cities strong: San Francisco, Ann Arbor/Detroit, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, D.C. The 826 National office was established in 2008 to serve the growing educational network by providing strategic leadership, administration, and other resources to ensure the success of the 826 network.

826 National’s chapters 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. They also aim to help teachers get their classes excited about writing. Their 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 seven 826 chapters served more than 32,000 students. Each 826 chapter offers five core programs: after-school tutoring, field trips, workshops, Young Authors’ Book Project, and in-school programs—all free of charge—for students, classes, and schools. Each program offers innovative and dynamic project-based learning opportunities, building on students’ classroom experience and strengthening their ability to express ideas effectively, creatively, confidently, and in their own voice.

826 National's Operations

Network Collaboration

At its heart, 826 National is a central office that functions to support each of its seven chapters. Therefore, one of our greatest priorities is facilitating collaboration and unification among the 826 staff across the country. Our team of staff at 826 National hold monthly calls to convene, share best practices, and discuss anything from volunteer coordination to fundraising to diversity and inclusion efforts. While each 826 community is unique, our common practices and vision unify us.

826 National also helps facilitate national programmatic partnerships, like our most recent Read This Poem, a collaboration with the Academy of American Poets to celebrate National Poetry Month. The project, which highlights and connects local poets in each of 826 National's seven chapter cities, asks participating poets to commit to an act of service with their local 826 chapter.

Research & Evaluation

The 826 network’s research and evaluation efforts are centralized in the National office. Our Director of Research and Evaluation is responsible for managing program assessments for students, volunteers, parents, and teachers; collecting and interpreting data to both inform our chapters’ programming and to share best practices; and researching new education pedagogy to continually improve our programs. In addition to this, 826 National routinely works with outside evaluators to facilitate and produce independent evaluations of 826’s programs.

Network Expansion

In addition to supporting the tremendous growth among our existing chapters, 826 National works to build the network’s expansion efforts and initiatives. Because 826 is a community-based organization, it’s important to us to support developments spearheaded by local working groups and organizations who best understand their community and their local arts and education landscape. Groups interested in joining the network can apply to enter our Chapter Development Process.

To aid these groups, and other interested parties, we host a two-day 101 Seminar to bring together individuals from around the world who are interested in either the 826 model, or in starting their own arts-based, community-based nonprofit.

Resources for Educators

826 National strives to provide educators with quality writing lessons and curriculum to get students excited about and engaged in writing. We’ve published several resources for educators and parents:

Don’t Forget to Write is a set of creative writing lesson plans for elementary and secondary grades. Created as a resource to reach all students (even those most resistant to creative writing), the lessons range from goofy fun (like "The Other Toy Story: Make Your Toys Come to Life") to practical, from sports to science, music to mysteries. These lessons are written by experts, and favorite novelists, actors, and other celebrities pitched in too. Lessons are aligned with the Common Core State Standards.

STEM to Story: Enthralling and Effective Lesson Plans for Grades 5-8 inspires learning through fun, engaging, and meaningful lesson plans that fuse hands-on discovery in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) with creative writing. Aligned with both the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards, this book provides teachers, after-school and out-of-school providers, and parents with field-tested lessons, workshops, and projects designed by professionals in each field.

Network-Wide Infrastructure

  • Fundraising

    In addition to raising funds to sustain 826 National’s own operations, we also seek national funding and partnership opportunities that directly support our chapters’ programs. Additionally, we support chapters in their local development efforts by providing training and research resources and identifying local funding sources.

  • Database Management

    The 826 National network uses a shared database that is managed at the National office for tracking donor, volunteer, and student information. Integrated systems ensure the network’s data is up-to-date, informing advancements in programs and fundraising.

  • Annual Staff Conference

    826 National organizes a network-wide, three-day staff development conference focused on professional development that includes guest speakers, panel discussions, peer-to-peer learning, intra-chapter planning, best-practice sharing, and more.