I recently read about 826 National in the book Why We Write. The book helps profit the youth literacy program, which is summarized in the introduction as follows:
“It’s an innovative youth literacy program, founded in San Francisco in 2002 by the ever-innovative Dave eggers, now encompassing outposts in Boston; Chicago; Washington, DC; Los Angeles; New York; Seattle; and Ypsilanti, Michigan. Each chapter is housed in a quirkily named storefront (the Boring Store in Chicago; the Museum of Unnatural History in DC) in which after-school tutoring sessions and summer camps are held and from which volunteers fan out into local public schools to help teachers do their jobs – all for free.”
There are many youth literacy programs all over the country, but what really stood out to me about this one is how unique it is. Upon further research around their website, I found that 826 National has a “culture of creativity” which encourages risk-taking, experimentation and respect for diversity. I think it’s very cool that this programs encourages these children and tutors to explore and be creative in their work. I think we often view literacy as being very black and white, as is the common consensus of someone being literate vs. illiterate, but 826 National really hammers home that it is actually very complex, and can be really fun! It is evident that the program has been successful, between general statistics as well as the number of chapters.
I like how they do the unique storefronts, and I think this really sets the tone for program. You can tell that its fun and comfortable. The storefronts include The Pirate Store, The Secret Agent Supply Co., and the Bigfoot Research Institute. Each chapter sells little goodies associated with their storefront. I can imagine that this excites kids to go and participate in the program, and be excited about literacy.
You can read more about 826 National at http://www.826National.org