826 Boston is a nonprofit youth writing and publishing organization that empowers traditionally underserved students ages 6-18 to find their voices, tell their stories, and gain communication skills to succeed in school and in life.

Our services are structured around the understanding that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success. With this understanding in mind, we provide after-school tutoring, field trips, creative writing workshops, in-school tutoring, help for English Language Learners, and in-depth publishing projects.

Each of our free programs seeks to empower students to express their ideas effectively, creatively, confidently, and in their individual voices. To find out more about where 826 Boston is going, read 826 Boston’s plan for growth.


How many students do you serve each year and where do they come from?
826 Boston provides free writing and tutoring programs for Boston students ages 6 to 18, serving more than 4,000 students and forming supportive partnerships with 150 teachers annually.

How much does it cost to attend 826 Boston?
All of our student programming is free!

When did 826 Boston open?
The late Mayor Menino cut the ribbon in front of the Greater Boston Bigfoot Research Institute in 2007.

How many volunteers are involved with 826 Boston and who are they?
826 Boston maintains a network of more than 2,500 volunteers from the Boston community—including professional writers, artists, and teachers. More than 700 volunteers regularly devote their time and talents to our programs. These qualified and compassionate individuals are involved in each and every program 826 Boston offers.

Why is it called 826 Boston?
The flagship chapter of 826 (826 Valencia) opened its doors at 826 Valencia St. in San Francisco. Founded in 2002 by internationally acclaimed author Dave Eggers and award-winning educator Nínive Calegari, 826 Valencia inspired a network of creative writing and tutoring centers now eight cities strong: Boston, San Francisco, Ann Arbor/Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York City, and Washington, D.C. The 826 National office was established in 2008 to serve the growing educational network by providing strategic leadership, administration, and other resources to ensure the success of the 826 network.

826 Boston aims to build communities of empowered young writers who will succeed in school, attend college, and carry with them a life-long love of writing and reading.

Our programs are designed to motivate students to complete their schoolwork, improve confidence in their writing skills, and foster positive relationships with adult mentors.

To gauge the impact of our programs, 826 Boston uses a variety of metrics, including third-party evaluations and pre- and post-program surveys.

Download our 2015-2016 Annual Report for more information about our impact.


See what students and parents say about our programs:

93% of students agree that 826 Boston has helped them become more comfortable in school.

85% of parents report that their child is getting better grades with the help of 826 Boston.

Since working with 826 Boston, my daughter has become motivated and excited to write. I’m in awe of how 826 Boston staff and volunteers achieve such greatness from these scholars.”

-Josette W., after-school parent

dsc_1495_low Jessica Drench
Executive Director
Jessica joined the 826 Boston team in the role of program director in 2011 and became Executive Director in 2016. A Boston native, she earned a B.A. in English from Brown and an M.A. in Teaching English from Columbia Teachers College, and is a certified English and Special Education teacher. Jessica began her career teaching high school ELA at the McKinley School, a program for at-risk youth in the Boston Public Schools. In 2013, Jessica attended the Institute of Nonprofit Management and Executive Leadership at Boston University. She brings 10 years of non-profit leadership to her work at 826 Boston.
dsc_1375_low Kristin Barrali
Director of Advancement
Kristin became 826 Boston’s first Development Director in 2012. A native Tennessean, Kristin has an extensive background in fundraising and nonprofit management. She got her start working for an economic justice nonprofit in Boston where she was on the cover of The Boston Globe for capsizing in a life raft in a tax fairness action. She then worked at the Nonprofit Quarterly magazine for 11 years where she helped raise money from foundations, individuals, and eventually managed the earned revenue strategies of the publication. Kristin’s passion for education comes from her role as an active Boston Public School parent. Her kids attend school just down the road from 826 Boston’s offices, and she was recently elected to the City-wide Parent Council in Boston.
dsc_1697_low April Bo Wang
Education Director
April grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and started her career in education as an 11th grade English teacher in the Arkansas Delta. Go Cougars! She holds a doctorate in education leadership from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and believes that when students share their voice, they break down barriers. April collects library cards.
dsc_1373_low Jenna Leschuk
Associate Development Director
Jenna Leschuk got her foot in the door with writing as a student tutor at Dartmouth College’s Composition Center. After graduation, she used the power of words (and recruitment!) to help find and train the next generation of environmental leaders with Green Corps. She worked in communications with Public Interest GRFX and as a freelance writer and graphic designer before joining the development team at 826 Boston.
dsc_1550_low Karen Sama
K-8 Program Director
Karen grew up in Queens, New York, and earned her BA in Religion from Colorado College. After graduating, she moved to Denver and worked directly with preschoolers with special needs in homes and Head Start classrooms.
DSC_1358_low Jennifer “J.J.”
Mercado Javier

Volunteer Manager
Jennifer Mercado Javier, more popularly known as J.J., is a proud Anteater, meaning she earned her B.A. in Criminology, Law, & Society from the University of California, Irvine. Although J.J. is California-bred, she fell head over heels in love with Boston after serving with City Year. There she learned the power of service and the importance of integrating civic engagement in education and youth work. She’s since lead volunteer programs for youth and young adults in various nonprofits in Boston, and also prioritizes volunteerism in her own life, giving time to start-ups who focus on empowering minority youth. In her spare time, she can usually be found behind a children’s novel or with a pad and pen in hand writing her own.
dsc_1603_low Nakia Hill
Writers’ Room Manager
Nakia grew up less than two miles away from 826 Boston. She received her B.A. at Howard University and her Masters in Print and Multimedia Journalism at Emerson College. She has taught creative writing and journalism classes to youth in Washington, D.C. and in Boston. She is an indie music enthusiast who still gushes over the sight of her byline in major publications.
dsc_1541_low Gena Barenholtz
Financial Manager
Prior to joining 826 Boston, Gena held positions at HarbourVest Partners, LLC as a Senior Tax Accountant, Commercial Union as a Senior Accountant and Fidelity Investments as an Accountant. Gena graduated from Bentley University with a Masters in Taxation and a Graduate Certificate in Accountancy. Undergraduate she studied at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Finance. Gena enjoys people, traveling as well as being outdoors running, biking and being active.
w Will Marshall
Writers’ Room Manager
A former 826 volunteer and service member, Will brings his passion for education and young adults to the Writers’ Room at the John D. O’Bryant High School. Will is a graduate of New York University’s Journalism School and has worked in newsrooms, production studios, and in higher education. He has a special knack for resolving disputes between feuding middle schoolers and if you run into him, be sure to talk horror movies and Italian restaurants.
dsc_1595_low Isata Jalloh
Writers’ Room Coordinator
Isata is a Boston native who grew up just blocks away from 826 Boston (If only it had been 826 Boston during her childhood…). She received her BA in communications with a concentration in digital journalism and a minor in sociology from Newbury College. Isata fostered her relationship with 826 in the spring of 2016 as a program intern, volunteer, service member, and now staff member. If Isata had to choose one author whose work changed her life it would be James Baldwin.
dsc_1595_low Gabriella Balza
Writers’ Room Coordinator
Gabriella is a Venezuelan-born, Florida-grown writer. When she is not busy exploring identity, trauma, and diaspora in her writing, she can be found at the Jeremiah E. Burke High School Writers’ Room. Gabriella is passionate about promoting positive change and empowerment in youth through the discovery of one’s voice. She earned her B.F.A. in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College and has interned at different literary agencies, book publishers, and literary journals around Boston.
dsc_1595_low Richard Wheelock
Volunteer Recruitment Systems Specialist, AmeriCorps VISTA
Richie recently graduated from Emerson College in Boston. As a former 826 Boston volunteer and intern, he looks forward to deepening his relationship with the organization and the city. He aspires to write fantasy novels for younger readers, and he has an abiding respect for the zoologically mysterious. He recommends books by Diana Wynne Jones to anybody who enjoys laughing while reading.
dsc_1595_low Kaylee Anzick
Volunteer Engagement Specialist, AmeriCorps VISTA
Kaylee recently graduated from Emerson College’s Writing, Literature, and Publishing program. They are passionate about finding ways to marry their love of literature—specifically children’s literature—to their goal of amplifying the voices of young writers. In college, they served with AmeriCorps for two years as a Jumpstart Corps Member, interned at Candlewick Press and The Horn Book, and volunteered with 826 Boston’s after-school tutoring program. When they aren’t at 826, you can find them watching cartoons, editing their friends’ writing, or reading anything they can get their hands on.
dsc_1595_low Julie Jacobs
Parent and Community Engagement Specialist, AmeriCorps VISTA
Julie is a native Vermonter. She bid the Green Mountains goodbye to receive her B.A. in International Affairs and Ethnic Studies at Lewis & Clark College in Oregon. Her experiences working with the DREAM mentorship program in Vermont, the SMART literacy program in Oregon, and as a goat shepherd overseas have developed her passion for working with kids of all ages and species. Julie’s love of reading began when she discovered her spirit character, Junie B. Jones, in the first grade classroom.
dsc_1595_low Annie Dade
Student Engagement Specialist, AmeriCorps VISTA
As a lover of all things book-related, Annie couldn’t be happier to serve a second AmeriCorps year with 826 Boston. She studied English and French literature at Wesleyan University, after which she moved to Jamaica Plain to serve at a nearby school through an AmeriCorps Urban Education Fellowship. Annie attributes her love for her hybrid role as literacy tutor/librarian/soccer coach/garden club coordinator to a bunch of fabulous fifth graders. She is excited about connecting with more students from the area and hearing about their favorite characters and breakfast foods.
dsc_1595_low Carly Barnhardt
Marketing and Events Specialist, AmeriCorps VISTA
Carly hails from a teeny-tiny town in southeastern Wisconsin, though she now proudly calls Boston home. Carly recently received her bachelor’s degree in English literature from Boston College. There, she served as the editor-in-chief of the university’s literary and arts magazine, Stylus (after Edgar Allan Poe’s would-be publication of the same name). An avid writer herself, she is continually inspired by the bold, silly, and inventive stories the student writers at 826 Boston share. In her free time, you are likely to find Carly in the kitchen, making a mess.
dsc_1595_low Christina Amen
Out-of-School Program Associate, Commonwealth Corps
Christina is a Pennsylvania native and grew up in the pin-sized borough of Camp Hill. She recently graduated from Emerson College with a B.F.A. in Writing, Literature, and Publishing with a concentration in fiction writing. As a bookworm and storyteller alike, taking on a year of service at 826 Boston was a no-brainer. In the past year, you are most likely to have spotted Christina in a preschool classroom with a book in hand, catching a concert at a nearby venue, or doing yoga at Ringer Park.
Emma Sunog
K-8 Writers’ Room Associate, Commonwealth Corps
Emma went to Carleton College in Minnesota, where she studied English and linguistics and worked at the campus writing center. After graduating, she returned to the Boston area to tutor high school students and intern at 826 Boston before beginning her position as a Commonwealth Corps Writers’ Room Associate. Emma likes writing letters, attempting to bake bread, and ballroom dancing.
Sarah Cummings
Writers’ Room Associate, Commonwealth Corps
Sarah Cummings is a native New Yorker who came to Boston to study Writing, Literature, and Publishing at Emerson College. She’s tutored and interned at various magazine and book publishers and briefly worked at Walt Disney World. She’s so excited to be back in Boston and serve with 826 Boston at the Jeremiah E. Burke Writers’ Room. She loves working with young adults and seeing students express themselves and gain confidence through their writing. In her spare time, you’re likely to find her writing, rock climbing, or cuddling the neighborhood cats.

Are you looking to join our team? Internship and full-time opportunities, when they are available, can be found here.

Board Officers
Gillian Kohli, 826 Boston Board President, Wellesley Books
Marc Foster,  826 Boston Board Vice President, Transparency Life Sciences, LLC
Mimi Curran, 826 Boston Board Treasurer, Retired WGBH
Emily D’Amour Pardo, 826 Boston Board Clerk, Harvard Book Store

Board Members
Linda Button, Children’s Hospital Trust
Andrew Cohn, LMEC
Donna Cowan, Retired Bolt, Beranek, and Newman
Jon Fullerton, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Carol Greenwald, WGBH
Rev. Tim House, First Church Boston
Charisse Howse
Lisa Krakoff
Jeff Mayersohn, Harvard Book Store
Pam Rosenberg
Janet Tiampo
Kevin Whalen, Morgan Stanley
Harvey Cotton, 826 Boston Legal Counsel

Kevin Feeney
Helen Jacobson

Literary Board
Steve Almond
M. T. Anderson
Richard Blanco
Christopher Castellani
Anita Diamant
Junot Díaz
Andre Dubus III
A. W. Flaherty
Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Julia Glass
Meredith Goldstein
Mary Gordon
Julian Houston
Jeff Kinney
Lois Lowry
David McCullough
Tom Perrotta
Heidi Pitlor
Richard Russo
Jim Shepard

Media contact

For all  media inquiries please contact Jenna Leschuk, Grants and Communications Manager, at 617-390-5610, or  jenna@826boston.org


Need some 826 Boston logos? Download high-resolution logos.

Need more info? Download the one-pager.

Boilerplate: 826 Boston is a nonprofit youth writing and publishing organization that empowers traditionally underserved students ages 6-18 to find their voices, tell their stories, and gain communication skills to succeed in school and in life. Our services are structured around the understanding that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success. With this understanding in mind, we provide after-school tutoring, field trips, creative writing workshops, in-school tutoring, help for English Language Learners, and in-depth publishing projects. Each of our free programs seeks to strengthen each student’s power to express ideas effectively, creatively, confidently, and in his or her individual voice. 

Quick Facts

Every year 4,000 students ages 6-18 participate in 826 Boston programs, in and out of school.

Since opening in 2007, 826 Boston has served more than 22,000 students.

826 Boston produces professionally published collections of student writing every year, containing hundreds of stories. 

Our History

The Greater Boston Bigfoot Research Institute, the whimsical storefront entrance to 826 Boston’s center, opened in 2007. It is one of the eight cities that belong to the 826 network. The first chapter was founded on 826 Valencia Street in San Francisco, California by acclaimed author Dave Eggers and educator Ninive Calegari, in 2002.


“Since working with 826 Boston, my daughter has become motivated and excited to write. I’m in awe of how 826 Boston staff and volunteers achieve such greatness from these scholars.” —Josette W., after-school parent

“It’s been amazing,” said senior Ronicia D. “They give us all the support we need to write things for colleges, for essays, for our classes.”

Five-Year Plan

Read More about 826 Boston’s plan for growth in the upcoming years.

Follow Us!


826 Boston in the News

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Eye on Education: 826 Boston’s Writers’ Room at the Jeremiah E. Burke High School

WBZ TV—April 26, 2017

“In order to change the status quo, we gotta shake things up and cannot prepare children for the 21st-century opportunities without a partnership with those that live beyond the walls of this school,” said Dr. Lindsa McIntyre, Headmaster of the Jeremiah E. Burke High School in Dorchester.

“It’s been amazing,” said senior Ronicia Da Veigh. “They give us all the support we need to write things for colleges, for essays, for our classes.”


826 Boston Celebrates Night of 1,000 Stories
The Boston Globe — May 7, 2015

The Roxbury writing center for young people, 826 Boston, had its fifth annual “Night of 1,000 Stories” benefit at the Royal Sonesta in Cambridge on Tuesday. The featured speaker was writer (and former Boston resident) Luis Alberto Urrea, who was a Pulitzer finalist for his nonfiction book “The Devil’s Highway: A True Story.” VIPs included 826 co-founder Dave Eggers, and students Stevelyn DesireJulia Teixeira, and Agnes Ugoji, who helped with the night’s presentation. Photo credit: Anne Haggerty.


826 Boston Hosts Literary Jeopardy at Porter Square Books
The Boston Globe — March 16, 2015

Porter Square Books was packed on Friday night for “Literary Jeopardy,” an event hosted by 826 Boston, the Egleston Square-based nonprofit writing center for kids. Clues that called for answers in the form of a question included “This ‘Freaks and Geeks’ costar took on the role of the Emerald City’s misunderstood leader in a 2013 prequel to the beloved 1939 film,” and “This is the name George Eliot, author of ‘Middlemarch,’ was born with.” (For the record, those answers are James Franco and Mary Ann Evans). The night’s VIPs were “Get in Trouble” author Kelly Link, of Northampton, and “Everything I Never Told You” author Celeste Ng, of Cambridge.


Gregory Maguire Stops in for Books for Breakfast
The Boston Globe — November 21, 2014

“Wicked” author Gregory Maguire was the special speaker at Thursday morning’s Books for Breakfast benefit for 826 Boston. The annual morning celebration raises money for the Roxbury writing center, which supports students 6 to 18 with tutoring and writing projects. WilmerHale hosted the event, which drew young readers such as Nicholas Allen,15, and Emily Gay, 17.


Students Take the Stage at the Strand Theatre, Thanks to 826 Boston and the A.R.T.
WBUR’s the ARTery — August 13, 2014

In a quick five week scramble that would make for excellent reality television, a group of 20 students from ages 10 to 14 write, design and act in their own play—culminating in a performance at the Strand Theatre on Friday, Aug. 15. Read More

826 Boston’s writing and tutoring center is located in the heart of Egleston Square in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood.

Behind the door of the Greater Boston Bigfoot Research Institute, past the 10-foot statue of Bigfoot and the terrarium with our beloved tarantula Edwina, you’ll find a tutoring center buzzing with activity as students work one-on-one with tutors, read in our library, or look up questions on our computers.

If you’re a parent interested in signing up a student for one of our programs, click here.

If you’re a teacher interested in bringing your class to the center for a field trip, click here.

If you’re a donor or community member interested in learning more about 826 Boston, click here.

If you’re looking to make a difference as a member of our team or as an intern, click here.

Directions & Contact Information

Just trying to find your way?

You can find us at:
826 Boston
3035 Washington Street
Roxbury, MA 02119

Or call us at:
(617) 442-5400

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