News / USA

Writing Program Supplements US Public Education

For almost 10 years, a unique non-profit organization called 826 has been helping students across the United States become better writers by tapping into their creativity.  Founded in San Francisco by the American author Dave Eggers and the educator Nínive Calegari, the 826 program has become so successful that it is now in seven additional U.S. cities.

In the middle of a mostly Latino neighborhood, the address 826 Valencia has become famously fun for many students and a curiosity for visitors. A pirate supply store greets everyone.  

By coming to 826 through a pirate store, Executive Director Leigh Lehman wants students to be in a creative mood.

“This is not school; this is not a tutoring center. This is a place for me to be myself and to find my voice and find my creativity and excel,” Leigh said.

The goal of 826 Valencia is to help public school students between six and 18 years of age write creatively.  

During the day, classes come for field trips and volunteers help with writing projects. After school, students come for tutoring and creative writing. Many of the children here are from immigrant working families.

“A lot of the parents don’t speak English as a first language so it’s harder for them to help their children with school work. So we’re trying to provide the services that parents wouldn’t otherwise be able to offer their kids for free,” Leigh said.

The program has been so successful that it's now in eight different cities in the United States, serving 30,000 students.   

From this pirate supply store in San Francisco, to a store for spies in Chicago, each 826 branch has a unique theme to fuel creativity.

826 National Chief Executive Gerald Richards says due to budget cuts, arts education is disappearing in the public schools and so is the ability for students to use their imagination.     

“I think there is much more of a focus on science, technology, engineering and math. There’s a lot of a focus on testing and a lot of the teaching that’s going on in the schools is focusing on the test and passing the test rather than thinking about how do we get kids to think. How do we get them to reason,” he said.

Richards says being creative and innovative are important even in the sciences.  Knowing how to write well will also help students get to college and beyond.

“For jobs and employers and just every subject is the ability to communicate well really does open a lot of doors,” Richards said.

Leigh Lehman says 826 also builds confidence by publishing and selling the students' work at places such as the pirate supply store and on the Internet.

Sofia Marquez is proud her story is now in this book. “That verification that their voice matters and that their stories matter and that their experiences are valid and important and relevant to other people,” she said. “I get to use my imagination -- that’s why I like writing.”

Last year alone, 826 chapters across the country published a total of 944 volumes of student writing.

You May Like

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid