Each year, 826 National’s chapters collectively provide more than 30,000 students from under-resourced communities with individualized tutoring, writing instruction, classroom support, and a wide variety of publishing opportunities. We give students access to high-quality, engaging, and hands-on literary arts programming. The result: better writing, improved grades, and stronger community ties between young people and adults.
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 literary quarterlies, newspapers, chapbooks, ‘zines, and anthologies. This student writing is displayed and sold in the retail shops that front their writing centers and is also distributed and sold nationwide. We use professional editors and designers to allow the students’ work to shine.
While each of our seven chapters has its own unique character, they all offer the following core programs:
Neighborhood students receive free, individualized homework help four to five days a week in all subject areas. 826’s tutoring program is designed to inspire learning, foster creativity, and help students understand and complete their homework each day. We accomplish this by giving youth—particularly low-income youth—access to invaluable academic assistance. After homework is completed, students are encouraged to spend thirty minutes reading with their tutors, and a final hour is dedicated to writing.
Our free workshops encourage students to explore their creativity and strengthen their writing skills while engaging with imaginative and often playful themes. In our “Mad Science” workshop, for example, students don lab coats, isolate strains of their own DNA, and then write stories about their DNA mutating in strange ways. Workshops are project-based and taught by experienced, accomplished literary professionals.
Young Authors’ Book Project
826’s most significant student collaboration each year is the Young Authors’ Book Project, which partners local schools with professional writers and editors. Students spend three to four months writing essays about a particular theme and collaborating with volunteers throughout the editing and publishing processes. Once the project is complete, students, volunteers, and families celebrate with a book release party in which students read excerpts of their work. The final book is a stunning reflection of months of hard work, engagement, and dedication on the part of the students and tutors.
Throughout the school year, entire public school classes journey to our writing centers for two-hour, interactive, high-energy writing events, like our signature Storytelling and Bookmaking program. Students compose an original story as a group, craft plot points and characters, and then individually write their own unique endings. They return home with personalized books and a deepened understanding of storytelling, bookmaking, and collaboration.
We recognize that not all students can visit 826 National's centers personally, so we dispatch teams of trained volunteers into local, high-need public schools to support teachers and students. We provide individualized assistance as they tackle various writing projects, such as school newspapers, research papers, oral histories, and college entrance essays.