Post 1: Learning the Ropes at 826 National

“I open doors
and live out my parents’ dreams
I am what education is supposed to be.”
–Marlin, age 11, 826 Valencia

Hi! I’m Katie Reinhold, and this summer I’m a Programs Intern at 826 National.

826 National is a nonprofit that supports and provides resources to a network of 8 (soon to be 10!) regional chapters. These chapters provide young students in under-resourced communities with opportunities to explore their creativity and improve their writing skills. Our mission is based on the understanding that great leaps in learning can happen with individualized attention, and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success. As an Education Studies major, I was drawn to this internship because I admire 826 National’s commitment to closing the achievement gap.

While 826 is certainly not the only organization working to solve this social injustice, the aspect I love most about 826’s work is their unique approach to education equity. Among other programs, each chapter provides free After-School Tutoring for young students, and every tutoring center is disguised behind an imaginative store front. In San Francisco, students traverse the Pirate Supply Store. In Chicago, they visit the Secret Agent Supply Co. In Boston, the Bigfoot Research Institute. These are operating storefronts, and all proceeds help support the organization’s work. But the real benefit of these storefronts is that they help eliminate the stigma of tutoring. Instead, students enter a world of limitless creativity, where students and volunteers spend afternoons tackling homework and exploring creative writing projects.

So how does 826 National support these chapters? Well, my department in particular helps promote staff development across the network and supports developing chapters. This summer, many of my responsibilities revolve around the annual Staff Development Conference (SDC). In late June, more than 100 staff members from all over the country will come together to explore how they can continue to improve practices. Currently, I am helping prepare materials before the big event in a few weeks. Once the SDC is over, I will help compile a toolkit that reflects what the network has discussed, created, or asked for additional support on. This will be distributed to chapters as a valuable resource for the coming year.

Last year, 826 National also launched a 826 Digital, a pay-what-you-wish online platform that provides adaptable writing curriculums and resources for educators. The goal is that 826 Digital will have a broader student reach than current chapters can, so that we can captivate young writers everywhere, not just in places where a chapter currently exists. This summer, I will be working to expand the resources available on that platform so that educators of all ages have a dearth of high-quality, low-cost resources at their fingertips.

Throughout the summer, I look forward to gaining knowledge about how a national nonprofit supports its network. To date, my experience in the nonprofit world has always involved direct engagement with the target community, so I am excited to explore the more behind-the-scenes end of this work, and hopefully figure out if I can see myself working in this capacity in the future!

-Katie Reinhold, ‘19

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