Two years ago, I started volunteering with Capitol Letters, a DC-based nonprofit that taught creative writing to students K-12. I got to teach middle schoolers about the archetypal hero’s journey, work with high schoolers on getting radio essays ready for NPR, and I learned a lot from my students’ imaginative stories. Last year, Capitol Letters became 826DC, the newest chapter of 826 National.
Founded in 2002 by award-winning author Dave Eggers and award-winning educator Nínive Calegari, 826 National is a network of nonprofit organizations dedicated to helping students ages 6-18 with expository and creative writing, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. 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.
826 chapters are located in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Ann Arbor, Seattle, Boston, and Washington, DC, each with its own unique creative atmosphere. They offer free student programs include after-school tutoring, in-school visits to assist teachers with special projects, workshops, and field trips. Many of their programs result in students receiving a copy of their published work – a book, a newspaper, or even a movie – which they helped produce. 826 is especially committed to supporting teachers, strengthening neighborhoods and communities, and helping young people express themselves creatively, confidently, and in their own voice.
I can tell you there’s nothing like seeing a student go from struggling to write the first sentence, to seeing her name published in an anthology at the end of the year. With so many arts and creative programs being cut from school budgets around the country, extracurricular groups like 826 National can make a huge difference.
But should 826 National become our next Better to Give partner? That’s your call. Click here to vote.