The strength of 826 Valencia’s volunteer base allows us to make partnerships with local high-needs schools. Each school day, we bring teams of volunteers into classrooms around San Francisco to support teachers with their dream projects. Whether students are composing sonnets, researching for term papers, or mastering verb conjugations, 826 tutors are available to sit side-by-side with them and lend a hand to dramatically lower the student-to-teacher ratio.
If you are a teacher and your students could use additional support with any sort of project, please contact Programs Director Christina Perry by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Let us know what you’re working on, when, and where — and we’ll dispatch an enthusiastic batch of trained tutors to your school. There is no cost passed to the teacher or school; all of 826 Valencia’s programs are completely free. (Please note: we are currently unable to provide support to any schools outside of San Francisco. As we continue to expand our efforts, we hope to widen our reach.)
In addition to our presence in teacher’s classrooms on a project-basis, we staff two dedicated 826 Writers’ Rooms to support teachers and students on site throughout the year. Our staff work with the administration of each school to serve all students, and particularly focus on supporting English Language Learners. Teachers report that students develop their ideas more fully and express themselves more clearly as a result of the support in the Writers’ Rooms.
Our approach works in a simple yet effective way: a teacher sends half of their class to the Writers’ Room to work with our volunteers while they work with the other half. Then they swap, so all students get a chance to work one-on-one with a tutor. This means that all students receive significantly more attention and feedback.
Since building the first Writer’s Room in 2003 at Everett Middle School, its success has inspired the launch of two more. We hosted a Writers’ Room at James Lick Middle School for several years, where we produced a mighty student-authored magazine called Slick. The Writers’ Room at Everett is in its 11th year publishing the Straight-up News, a bilingual school newspaper written and edited by Everett students. In the fall of 2014 we opened another Writers’ Room at Mission High School, where, among other projects, Mission Magazine is written by the 9th grade Ethnic Studies class, dedicated to social justice issues and subjects that the student authors are passionate about. In all three cases, school administrators report that since we’ve been there, scores have gone up and writing skills have improved dramatically.
Buena Vista Horace Mann School Annex
In 2013, we launched a new satellite after-school program for sixty English Language Learners in grades three, four, and five at Buena Vista Horace Mann (BVHM), a bilingual K–8 school in the Mission District. 826 Valencia staff worked with teachers at BVHM to develop an after-school writing curriculum that enhanced academic learning in the classroom. As a result, students experienced accelerated reading level gains, with 75% achieving more than a year’s growth in just five months. Each semester, 826 publishes a chapbook of the students’ writing. We’re excited to partner with this innovative school to give focused writing support to students after the end of the school day, on their own campus. Student sign-ups for this program are full for the year. If you’re a tutor, we’d love to see you there!