826NYC is a nonprofit organization (located in Park Slope, Brooklyn) dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. Services are structured around the belief that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention, and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success. With this in mind 826NYC provides free drop-in tutoring, after-school workshops, in-schools tutoring, help for English language learners, and assistance with student publications. Drawing from a volunteer base of over 1,000, which includes many teachers, writers and journalism professionals, 826NYC unites eager students with eager helpers. There are also 826 National chapters in San Francisco (826 Valencia), LA (826LA), Seattle (826 Seattle), Chicago (826CHI), Ann Arbor (826 Michigan), and Boston (826 Boston),
Brooklyn Superhero Supply
826NYC is located in a "secret lair" behind The Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company, a store similar in eccentricity to 826 Valencia’s storefront pirate shop, and which sells capes, grappling hooks, utility belts (new and vintage), masks, tights, deflector bracelets, bottles of chaos and anti-gravity, secret identity kits, and more. Visitors to the store can try out capes for free in a cape-testing wind tunnel (essentially a series of fans on a pedestal). The store sells new and back issues of Timothy McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, The Believer, Wholphin, and other McSweeney's publications. The Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co. also carries a complete stock of publications written and edited by students at 826NYC including Trapped: The Encyclopedia of Escape, Sonny Paine, and issues 1 and 2 of The 826NYC Review. The store front is literally a front for the charitable organization, with all sales going to the organization. The store employs volunteers.
The design of the store features many tongue-in-cheek signs and features, and the staff treat their products as real super-hero supplies, and visitors as real super-heroes. The secret lair to the student learning and activity center lies behind a swinging bookcase.
826NYC is known for hosting culturally innovative fundraising events. In August 2006, 826NYC was the starting point for the Revenge Of The Book Eaters Tour, which stopped in each of the six cities home to an 826 National center. The NYC stop, at The Beacon Theater, featured performances by Jon Stewart, David Byrne, Sufjan Stevens, Dave Eggers, Sarah Vowell, John Hodgman, Eric Bogosian, Jonathan Coulton, and John Roderick in an evening that promised once and for all to settle the debate: words or music–which is better?
Other 826NYC fundraising events have included 826NYC Art Show (curated by Marcel Dzama, Shelley Dick, and David Zwirner Gallery), 826NYC Fashion Show/Spring 2006 Collection (featuring crimefighting-wear designed by Marc Jacobs, Zac Posen, Jack Spade, Behnaz Sarafpour, Rebecca Taylor, Kenneth Cole, Benjamin Cho, modeled by The Daily Show correspondents, Kathleen Hanna, and Amy Sedaris), McSweeney's vs. They Might Be Giants (based on Issue #6 of McSweeneys, held at Lincoln Center), How I Learned To Read (Eric Bogosian, Bob Balaban, Cynthia Nixon, Justin Theroux, Sam Rockwell, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Martha Plimpton, and Kristen Johnston read their favorite classic children's stories).
Future 826NYC benefit events include The World, Explained, which will be presented with 826LA and McSweeney's at Symphony Space, on April 10, 2007. This show will feature performances by David Rakoff, John Oliver, and Eugene Mirman. The event will also feature the premiere performance by Final Fantasy: Online a.k.a. Internet, an indie-rock supergroup made up of Dante DeCaro and Hadji Bakara (of Wolf Parade), Nick Diamonds and Jamie Thompson (of Islands), Amber Weber (of Black Mountain) and Syd Butler (of Les Savy Fav).