826michigan is a nonprofit organization serving students in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Detroit, Michigan. 826michigan inspires school-aged students to write confidently and skillfully with the help of adult volunteers in their communities.
826michigan opened its doors in 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 Liberty Street location in downtown Ann Arbor in 2007.
826michigan employs eleven staff members, hosts two full-time AmeriCorps VISTAs, 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 more than 3,600 students, aged 6–18, across Southeast Michigan. Programming includes drop-in tutoring, after-school creative writing workshops, in-school projects, 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. All programs are offered free of charge to students, teachers, and schools.
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 offers extracurricular workshops. and all are taught by volunteer writers, artists, educators, and publishing professionals.
826michigan Field Trips bring classrooms from across Southeast Michigan into the organization’s Liberty Street headquarters in Ann Arbor. Field trips are offered to elementary and middle school students.
826michigan’s In-school Projects provide creative writing workshops and support to teachers and students in partner classrooms across Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Detroit.
826michigan offers 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. 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. 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 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) and 826 Chicago opened in 2005; 826 Boston opened in 2007; and 826DC opened in 2010. 826 National's current CEO is Gerald Richards.