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Formation 2005
Type Non-profit organization
Purpose Education
Headquarters 115 East Liberty St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Region served
Southeast Michigan, primarily Ypsilanti, Detroit, and Ann Arbor
Website http://www.826michigan.org/, http://www.onwardrobots.com

826michigan is a nonprofit organization (located in Ann Arbor, Michigan) dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write.


826michigan opened its doors on June 1, 2005. Modeled after the already successful 826 Valencia, a group of local writers came together to bring the 826 mission to Ann Arbor. 826 Valencia, which was founded by writer Dave Eggers and teacher Nínive Calegari was the first of seven 826 chapters, which pioneered the organizations' dedication to student writing. Originally located on South State Street, near Briarwood Mall, 826michigan relocated to its downtown Ann Arbor location on October 1, 2007.

826michigan employs seven staff members and relies heavily on its community of over 500 active volunteers. This includes board members, interns, teachers, store staff, writers, and more.

826michigan currently serves over 2,700 students, aged 6–18, in Southeast Michigan. Programming includes drop-in tutoring, after school workshops, in-school residencies, and student publications. Workshops and tutoring cover all manners of writing, from poetry to college admissions essays. While the majority of the organization’s programs focus on writing, 826michigan tutors are available to help students with all subjects. In accordance with the 826 mission statement, programs are dedicated to offering one-on-one attention to students and engaging them in a fun and challenging way. All programs are offered free of charge to students, teachers, and schools.

Liberty Street Robot Supply & Repair[edit]

LSRS&R logo

Liberty Street Robot Supply & Repair supplies Ann Arbor with odds and ends for both robot enthusiasts and robots themselves, and serves as a storefront for 826michigan. In addition to selling items like positronic brains, robot arms, and a variety of mechanical toys, the store also stocks publications written by 826 students, as well as back issues of McSweeney's Quarterly Concern and other McSweeney's publications.

The Robot Store is part of the 826 tradition of operating a novelty store front along with the writing centers. The concept for such stores originated largely out of necessity. The flagship chapter, located at 826 Valencia Street, in San Francisco's Mission District was, and still is, housed in a commercially zoned building. Their pirate store was opened to satisfy both the zoning laws and the founders' sense of humor.[1] With the success of the pirate store, each 826 chapter has subsequently opened its own novelty store. The storefronts help to draw community attention and provide additional income for the non-profit writing centers.

Other storefronts[edit]

LSRS&R storefront



During the academic school year 826michigan hosts drop-in tutoring for students aged 8–18. Volunteer tutors work one-on-one with students on homework, projects, and studying in all school subjects.


826michigan's extracurricular workshops are designed to foster creativity and strengthen writing skills in students. Workshops range from the playful to the practical (including workshops like “I Know Here: Writing Creative Nonfiction About Your Favorite Place” and “The Science of Saving Daylight,” a workshop that asks students to combine science and writing to explore why we gain and lose an hour twice each year),[2] and all are taught by volunteer writers, artists, educators, and publishing professionals. Workshops are offered year round and totally free of charge. 826michigan occasionally offers adult writing workshops as well.[3]

Field trips[edit]

826michigan Field Trips bring classrooms from across Southeast Michigan into the organization’s Liberty Street headquarters in Ann Arbor for a morning of energetic, action-packed creative writing. Field trip activities include life-sized board games, creative writing prompts, and whodunit mysteries, all designed to inspire students to think creatively and embrace writing as a means of expression. Field trips are offered for first, second, and fourth grade classes.

In-school residencies[edit]

826michigan’s In-school Residency program places highly trained, dedicated volunteers in underserved classrooms to support teachers and provide one-on-one attention to students who could most benefit from it. By reducing the adult-to-student ratio, volunteers and teachers alike are able to offer more specialized attention based on students’ individual needs, helping students perform better in class and develop a sense of confidence in their schoolwork.

Summer programming[edit]

826michigan continues to offer programs for children and youth throughout the summer, supporting at-risk students by partnering with summer schools, low-income housing centers, and other social service organizations. In 2013, 826michigan began providing summer programming in Detroit, including summer camp support and Family Writing Nights at the historic Franklin-Wright Settlements; Drop-in Writing sessions in Clark Park; and writing workshops at the Campbell Branch of the Detroit Public Library.


Many 826michigan programs culminate in the publishing of student work, including professionally bound anthologies, small chapbooks, literary journals, and zines. Some programs also allow for less traditional publishing opportunities; in both 2008 and 2009, student poetry was displayed on the walls of the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority bus fleet.[4] In 2013, 826michigan publication Don't Stay Up So Late (published in 2010) was featured on the blog Building a Library, a resource for parents creating a book collection for their children.[5] Students from 826michigan have also contributed to the Best American Nonrequired Reading series and the 826 National publication Thanks and Have Fun Running the Country, a collection of student letters to Barack Obama.

826 National[edit]

826 National is an umbrella organization that works toward duplicating the successful 826 Valencia program in youth writing centers across the country. 826NYC (in Park Slope, Brooklyn) opened in September 2004; 826LA (in Venice, CA), 826 Seattle, and 826 Chicago opened in 2005; 826 Boston opened in 2007; and 826DC opened in 2010. 826 National's current CEO is Gerald Richards.


  1. ^ "Dave Eggers' wish: Once Upon a School | Video on". Ted.com. Retrieved 2012-01-28. 
  2. ^ "Workshops". 826michigan. January 11, 2012. Retrieved 2012-01-28. 
  3. ^ "You Ask, You Receive: How to Write Like I Do". 826michigan. June 12, 2009. Retrieved 2012-01-28. 
  4. ^ "Story Detail". Once Upon a School. Retrieved 2012-01-28. 
  5. ^ "Don’t Stay Up So Late: The Coolest Book of Bedtime Stories You Will Ever Own". Building a Library. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 

External links[edit]