Thanks to you, our community, this year we’re celebrating fifteen years of writing, tutoring, publishing, and lots of creativity and fun along the way. We’re now writing the next chapter for 826 Valencia. Join us!
It was fifteen years ago that our co-founders, educator Nínive Calegari and author Dave Eggers, found a space on Valencia St., put out a sign that said “free tutoring” (plus pirate supplies and a famous pufferfish) and rolled up their sleeves to help kids hone their writing skills and publish their work. It was kind of a weird idea. But it turns out it worked really well. Soon the Writing Lab at 826 Valencia St. was filled with students receiving one-on-one support with their writing and homework, publishing their work, and making great leaps in their skills, confidence, and pride.
Since then we’ve grown and grown, and like most fifteen year olds, in the last year we’ve grown in unprecedented ways. 826 Valencia now comprises two writing centers—our original location in the Mission District and a new center in the Tenderloin neighborhood, just opened in May of 2016—and three satellite classrooms at nearby schools. Our programs have gone from serving the neighborhood kids who happened to drop in to strategically supporting nearly 7,000 under-resourced students from all over San Francisco. Inspired by the success of 826 Valencia, six more 826 chapters have opened in cities across the country and joined the 826 National network. It’s still kind of a weird idea! And it still works.
Writing is agency. We believe that writing and storytelling are crucial tools that help students build confidence, practice empathy, and develop critical thinking skills that shape their whole lives. And at 826 Valencia, we provide a space where kids can approach writing with a sense of wonder and humor and fun, and know that their ideas will be celebrated and heard. This and every year we’ll strive to serve more under-resourced students in San Francisco than ever before, so that they can go on to do things like write our laws, report in our media, and be the innovators and influencers of our time.
So join us as we spend all twelve months of our 15th birthday celebrating as we look to the future! We’ll have an extra 15th-spin at all our events, special readings and publications, maybe a parade or a carnival or a pool party or a block party or an extra-fun regular party, as well as new ways to get involved and spread the word about how we’re growing and making a difference here in San Francisco every day.
And you are a central character in this story! If you have a story about how 826 Valencia has impacted your life or want to tell all your friends why you think this work is important, we’d be oh-so-pleased if you’d share it on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with the hashtag #826turns15. Feeling social media shy? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org! Throughout the year we’ll be sharing these stories and more about our work, our vision for the future, and how we’re celebrating. Stay tuned!