826LA in Venice CA is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write.
After 826 Valencia in San Francisco and 826NY it is the third place in the US that got set up thanks largely to the help and effort by literary wunderkind Dave Eggers.
It’s been five years since the bestselling, genre-bending memoir “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” made Eggers an overnight literary sensation. With fame and money comes responsibility and rather then spend his new assets on Martinis and Jaguars, Eggers decided to become a knight in shining armor with a just cause: to promote reading and writing in a country who seems mostly satisfied with 30 second sound-bites on TV and who has a dangerously high illiteracy rate. 826 is only one of many groups in the Dave Eggers empire but it seems to be very close to him and new places where kids can get challenged by words are planned to pop up all over the country.
The project’s goal has been to provide free one-on-one mentoring to students, ages 6 to 18, for a single spelling test or sharpening up an essay for a college application. The success is of staggering genius: More than 600 volunteers have taken part in the first place in San Francisco helping with homework, heading writing workshops, publishing quarterlies of the students’ work and hosting popular, paid adult workshops.
The 826 line of offerings are:
Drop-in Tutoring: 826 offers one-on-one tutoring. Tutors are available at the lab and ready to help students with writing assignments, homework, English language learning, creative writing, and publishing projects.
Workshops: Scores of free after-school and weekend workshops designed to foster creativity, strengthen writing skills, and provide students with a forum for executing projects they might not otherwise have the support to undertake. Workshops range from the playful to the practical, and all are taught by volunteer writers, artists, educators, and publishing professionals.
Publishing: 826 is committed to making sure that our students have an outlet for the wonderful material they produce. To this end, they help them publish and distribute their work, be it in their own zine, in a specially produced book, or in the 826 quarterly.
Other Programs: They support the writing community as a whole by showcasing authors’ works and by giving writers a number of opportunities to meet other writers and learn the tricks of the trade. All proceeds from these events directly fund student programming at 826LA.
826LA is a fantastic initiative that we can only hope will spread all over the country!
Address: 685 Venice Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90291
Tel: +1 310 915 0200
Text: Reto Caduff
Photos: Courtesy of 826