826 National

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826 National
Formation 2002
Founders Nínive Calegari and Dave Eggers
Type Non-profit organization
Purpose Education
Headquarters 44 Gough Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
Gerald Richards
Main organ
Advisory board
Website http://www.826national.org/

826 National is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping students, ages 6–18, with expository and creative writing at seven locations across the USA.[1] The chapters include 826 Valencia in San Francisco, 826NYC in Brooklyn, New York, 826LA in Los Angeles, CA, 826CHI in Chicago, 826michigan in Ann Arbor, 826 Boston in Boston, and 826DC in Washington, DC. Together, the seven chapters serve about 30,000 students a year.[2] 826 National also runs a college-success program called ScholarMatch. The 826 National 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. Each 826 chapter provides drop-in tutoring, class field trips, writing workshops, and in-schools programs—all free of charge. 826 chapters are especially committed to supporting teachers, publishing student work, and offering services for English language learners.[3]


The original chapter opened in 2002 at 826 Valencia St. in San Francisco's Mission District. The original address inspired the name 826 National. It was co-founded by educator Nínive Calegari and Dave Eggers, author of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, and founder of the publishing house McSweeney's.[4]

826 National chapters[edit]

The seven chapters that make up 826 National include unique retail stores.[5] All proceeds from the storefronts go directly to 826 writing programs.

826 Valencia runs San Francisco's only independent Pirate Supply Store. Located in the heart of San Francisco's Mission District, the store is the front entrance of the tutoring center. The store sells pirate clothing, eyepatches, compasses, spyglasses, pirate dice, skull flags, and secret treasures. Unsuspecting visitors are sometimes treated to surprise "moppings." Shoppers can also find back issues of McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, books published by McSweeney's, and essay and story compilations written by 826 Valencia students.

A second writing center, 826NYC in Brooklyn, New York, features The Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company, offering capes, antimatter and secret identity kits.

Another at 826michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan is home to Liberty Street Robot Supply and Repair where everything for the robot or robot enthusiast can be found, including the Is Your Little Sister A Robot? kit.

826CHI, in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago, is also the location of The Wicker Park Secret Agent Supply Co. (formerly the Boring Store), which sells spy supplies like trench coats or night-vision goggles.

826LA has opened The Echo Park Time Travel Mart, featuring products such as Mammoth Chunks, Dodo Chow and Anti-Robot Fluid (bottled water).

826 Boston opened their doors in Fall 2007 with The Bigfoot Research Institute of Greater Boston, specializing in cryptozoology where one can pick up a Jungle Hygiene Kit or an unofficial Yeti Hairball.

826DC officially opened in October 2010, and its storefront is The Museum of Unnatural History, which stocks items such as Unicorn Tears and Primordial Soup. It's located in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, DC

The The Greater Seattle Bureau of Fearless Ideas existed as an eighth chapter between 2005 and 2014, when it was known as 826 Seattle.[6]

In April 2010, 826 National launched a nonprofit organization called ScholarMatch that connects donors with students to make college more affordable.

Volunteer network[edit]

826 National is supported by a network of 5,000 volunteers,[7] which includes authors, journalists, poets, teachers, and documentary filmmakers. Authors Dave Eggers and Vendela Vida, along with veteran educator Nínive Clements Calegari, founded the first center in San Francisco, 826 Valencia in April, 2002. 826 Valencia has attracted teachers and supporters such as Michael Chabon, Isabel Allende, Keith Knight, Daniel Handler, Amy Tan, Robin Williams, and Erika Lopez. Other chapters have been equally successful in harnessing support from local literary and cultural superstars, such as writers Sarah Vowell, Sherman Alexie, David Sedaris, Zadie Smith, Melissa Mathison, and Davy Rothbart, as well as other notable public figures including Phil Jackson, Ira Glass, Jon Stewart, and Spike Jonze. 826 National provides urban public school students with valuable apprenticeship-style opportunities from these and other local literary arts professionals through personalized interactions and mentorship.

826 publications[edit]

826 publishes a vast amount of student writing, in genres ranging from journalism to cartooning. Students can take pride in creating a professionally finished product and experience, appreciate, practice, and recognize great writing. Because of the well known sponsors and the professional quality of the publications, students work diligently and learn everything about the process of publishing.[8] Thousands of student publications are released each year, from chapbooks and newspapers to quarterly journals and collaborations with acclaimed authors. The most recent publications from chapters include:

In Show of Hands, a collection of essays by juniors and seniors at Mission High School in San Francisco, young authors reflect on the Golden Rule, which tells us that we should act toward others as we would want them to act toward ourselves. The book, released by 826 Valencia, features a foreword by author Joe Loya.[9]

STEW, The Magazine About Et Cetera: The Brooklyn Issue, published by 826NYC, highlights articles written by juniors at The Secondary School for Journalism based on interviews and independent reporting. It examines changes in Brooklyn and includes a feature on New York City's public schools.[10]

826LA released Sheep Can't Fly, a collection of writing exploring the nature of the hero. Their largest and most ambitious publication yet, it is composed of essays and short stories about determination, triumph and redemption, as well as a talking ferret and a squirrel.[11]

The 826michigan Omnibus contains work from seventy 826michigan students between the ages of six and eighteen. Included is a lengthy appendix which highlights volunteers, past workshops and in-schools, the top ten acronyms of OMNIBUS, and a word from Dr. Blotch.[12]

The first publication of 826 Boston, I Wish They Would Have Asked Me collects essays, poems, short stories and letters written by 11th and 12th grade students from The English High School in Jamaica Plain. The anthology covers themes of education, immigration, violence, family and perseverance with a foreword by Steve Almond.[13]

After the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States, 826 students across the country were asked: "What should President Obama do now?" The results were collected in Thanks and Have Fun Running the Country: Kids' Letters to President Obama, published in conjunction with McSweeney's.[14] The follow-up, I Live Real Close To Where You Used To Live: Kids' Letters to Michelle Obama (and to Sasha, Malia, & Bo), was published in 2010.[15][16]

826 National has also produced two volumes of creative writing lesson plans, titled "Don't Forget to Write," for students in elementary[17] and secondary[18] grades.

Maps and Legends is Michael Chabon's first book of non-fiction. Proceeds from Maps and Legends will benefit 826 National.


  1. ^ "Creative Writing Centers Help Students Become Published Authors". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 2011-11-06. 
  2. ^ "Writing Program Supplements US Public Education". Voice of America. Retrieved 2011-12-02. 
  3. ^ "About". 826 National. Retrieved 2010-12-12. 
  4. ^ Holland, Sally (December 7, 2010). "Hidden tutoring centers provide 'unnatural' education". CNN. 
  5. ^ "Innovation of the Week: 826 National". Leader to Leader Institute. 2010-08-27. Retrieved 2011-11-06. 
  6. ^ "826 Seattle Changes Its Name to the Bureau of Fearless Ideas". Webcitation.org. Retrieved 2015-05-30. 
  7. ^ "How Dave Eggers Is Making Learning Fun". Inc. Magazine. Retrieved 2011-11-06. 
  8. ^ "826 Publications". 826 National. Archived from the original on 4 December 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-12. 
  9. ^ "Shop". 826 Valencia. Retrieved 2010-12-12. 
  10. ^ "826NYC". 826NYC. Retrieved 2010-12-12. 
  11. ^ "Store: Books". 826LA. Retrieved 2010-12-12. 
  12. ^ "Store". 826michigan. Archived from the original on 12 November 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-12. 
  13. ^ "English High Publication Party". 826 Boston. 2008-06-05. Retrieved 2010-12-12. 
  14. ^ Hartlaub, Peter (2011-06-27). "Kids send amazing letters to President Obama". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2011-11-06. 
  15. ^ "Boston kids wrote the darnedest letters to Michelle Obama". The New York Times. 2010-11-27. Retrieved 2011-11-06. 
  16. ^ Finucane, Martin (2010-11-29). "Dear First Lady Michelle,". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2011-11-06. 
  17. ^ "Don't Forget to Write for the Elementary Grades: 50 Enthralling and Effective Writing Lessons (Ages 5 to 12)". Wiley. 2011-10-19. Retrieved 2014-12-22. 
  18. ^ "Don't Forget to Write for the Secondary Grades: 50 Enthralling and Effective Writing Lessons (Ages 11 and Up)". Wiley. 2011-11-11. Retrieved 2014-12-22. 

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