826 Boston is a nonprofit writing, tutoring, and publishing organization where students in grades K-12 and beyond can share their stories, amplify their voices, and develop as leaders 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 Writers’ Rooms, college essay assistance, 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.

826 Boston’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) Statement
At 826 Boston, we honor and actively work toward diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) across our organization. We are committed to centering the voices of the students who we serve, to creating inclusive spaces, and to incorporating feedback from our community into our decision-making processes. Our DEI lens is always evolving through the courageous conversations in which we participate and the relationships that we build through our work and service. We strengthen our cultural competency through experience, training, and feedback, which informs the development of all new organizational practices and goals and the evaluation of all existing procedures.

826 Boston is dedicated to providing a platform for student advocacy through writing and publishing opportunities. In our work and mission, we are committed to dismantling white supremacy culture by recognizing that we are complicit in systems of racism and oppression. We will work to hold ourselves accountable in addressing these harmful structures and behaviors.

Land Acknowledgement
We would like to acknowledge that the land where the 826 Boston center, offices, and partner schools are located is on the original homelands of the Massachusett Tribe. We honor and pay our respects to the ancestral bloodline of the Massachusett Tribe and their descendants who are still inhabiting this land on which we work and serve today.

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI) Action Plans
Please read on to learn how our organization has applied a DEI lens to our work at 826 Boston in the development of team action plans. You can find our plans here.


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 4,500 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 nine cities strong: Boston, San Francisco, Ann Arbor/Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, 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 lifelong 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.

Read our latest Annual Report for more information about what our community accomplished together in the last school year. 



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

Gena Barenholtz (she/her)
Finance Manager
Prior to joining 826 Boston, Gena (she/her) 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.
Leah Bognanni (she/her)
Out-of-School Time Program Manager
Leah (she/her) is a screenwriter and educator born in South Korea and adopted by Italian Americans in Malden, Massachusetts. She has worked with numerous nonprofits in Los Angeles as a juvenile justice teaching artist, leading creative writing workshops in detention centers and alternative education environments. Leah is a television writing fellow in Lena Waithe’s 2021 Hillman Grad Mentorship Lab and has an MFA in Writing for the Screen and Stage from Northwestern University. She can’t wait to share her passions for storytelling, curriculum development, and youth program coordination with everyone in the 826 Boston family! 
Miranda Burel (she/her)
Publishing Coordinator
Miranda is a Michigan native who discovered her passion for amplifying student voices during her undergrad at Aquinas College. There, she studied Community Leadership, English, Writing, French, and Irish Studies, and learned the importance of intersectionality in all aspects of life. She loves the nuance of language and feels most joyful when talking to others about writing and editing. In time spent away from writing and reading, she can be found baking bread, building a cheeseboard, and quoting hundreds of movies.
Kara Deese (she/her)
Communications Manager
Kara (she/her) grew up in a tiny town in the Adirondack Mountains and earned her B.A. in English at Middlebury College in Vermont. She’s worked in a variety of digital and communications roles, most recently at the ONE Campaign where she wrote stories of passionate poverty-fighters and helped designed campaigns to increase public engagement to advance poverty reduction in Africa. Kara regularly misses Scratch bagels in Maine, loves reading The Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen, and is a big fan of after-dinner walks.
Kassy Edouard (she/her)
In-School Programs Coordinator
Kassy is a Bostonian, born and bred (go Patriots, Celtics and Red Sox!). She recently graduated from University of Massachusetts, Lowell with a B.A. in English Literature. Her passion for writing and reading started with a scholastic book fair catalog and a half-empty piggy bank stash. Drawn to 826 Boston’s mission of transforming students into published authors and empowering them to find their voices, Kassy intends to support students on their journey becoming confident storytellers. When Kassy isn’t reading multiple books at a time or spitting poetic wax on paper, she is a pretend sleuth watching true crime television or spending quality time with her friends and family in the city.
Karina Enriquez (she/her)
In-School Bilingual Programs Coordinator
Karina (she/her) is a Los Angeles native and daughter of Mexican immigrants. Before moving to Boston, Karina managed youth programs for elementary and middle-grade students. She is pursuing her MA in Children’s Literature and MFA in Writing for Children at Simmons University. As a Latinx writer, her stories center on identity and self-acceptance, inter-generational conflict, depression, and self-worth. At 826 Boston, Karina is thrilled to combine her passion for youth services, writing, and diverse voices. When she can find time to relax, Karina enjoys exploring the outdoors and all the historic sites Boston has to offer.
Catherine Gomez (she/her)
Impact and Operations Manager
Catherine graduated from Hollins University in 2012 with a degree in Spanish and International Studies. She completed two years of AmeriCorps, first teaching English to immigrants and refugees in New Bedford, and then advocating for children in foster care as an AmeriCorps VISTA in Boston. Most recently, she was the Site Manager with Jumpstart for Young Children, working with both college students and preschoolers in Roxbury. She is currently working on completing her Masters of Education at Northeastern University. She is passionate about service, books, and social justice.
Ariel Heim
Internship Program Coordinator
Ariel Heim is a Sacramento native with a passion for writing. Her goal is to tell as many stories as possible and to give kids from historically silenced backgrounds the tools to tell their own stories and create change in the publishing world. After completing her B.A. in English, Creative Writing, and African American Studies at the University of Kansas, Ariel moved to Boston. She is currently pursuing her M.A./M.F.A. in Children’s Literature and Writing for Children. When not working, she enjoys reading, video games, and knitting.
Nakia Hill (she/her)
Director of Youth Writing Program Innovation and Partnerships
Nakia is a published author and journalist. In 2018, she was named a Boston Artist-in-Residence for the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture. During her residency she published two books, including her debut collection of poetry Water Carrier and I Still Did It, an intergenerational anthology featuring remarkable stories of resilience written by women of color. Nakia received her B.A. in Broadcast Journalism at Howard University and her Masters in Print and Multimedia Journalism at Emerson College. She currently teaches non-fiction creative writing classes focused on how women of color can use writing as a tool for healing and self-care.
Isata Jalloh (she/her/hers)
Writers’ Room Manager
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 B.A. 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.
Elisabeth Layne (she/her)
Writers’ Room Manager, Boston Teachers Union School
Elis grew up in Cambridge, Mass where she primarily hid in her room reading books and making jewelry and small clay turtles. She attended Bunker Hill Community College before graduating from UMass Amherst with a degree in Communication and a focus on Performance Studies. She has been a stagehand, a long-time camp counselor teaching fiber arts, and most recently spent a few years working in Quaker education. She writes essays and poetry about fat liberation, intersections, and liminality. Elis loves to cook and has a (mostly) inexplicable fascination with the MBTA.
Jenna Leschuk (she/her)
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.
Cynthia Lopez
Bilingual Program Assistant
Cynthia is an alumna of the Rafael Hernández School and served as an after-school group leader at the school for six years. She began her journey at 826 Boston as an intern, and for the last two years, she has served as an AmeriCorps Fellow with the Blanca Burgos Writers’ Room. She is overjoyed to continue her work with 826 Boston as the new Bilingual Program Assistant.
JR Mahung (they/she)
Writers’ Room Manager at Jeremiah E. Burke High School
JR Mahung (they/she) is a Garifuna poet from the South Side of Chicago. They received their MFA at Umass Amherst where she also taught a mix of creative writing and general composition classes. She previously lived in Dorchester for three and a half years where she served on the organizing team for the Louder than a Bomb MA (now Wicked Loud) youth poetry slam festival. JR has helped coach poetry slam teams at Northeastern University and Smith College. When not at work, you can find JR hanging out with her cat, Frank Ocean.
Carolyn Navikonis (she/her)
Director of Programs, Impact, and Evaluation
Carolyn (she/her) joins 826 Boston with more than ten years of experience in education as a classroom teacher and nonprofit program leader. She began her career teaching English at Mills E. Godwin High School in Henrico, VA, opening the school’s first writing center. Upon relocating to Boston, Carolyn joined the team at Citizen Schools. She first served as Director of Civic Engagement, recruiting, training, and engaging hundreds of volunteers across the private and public sectors. She then transitioned to Director of Eighth Grade Academy and Alumni Services, launching and leading innovative programs to support students through their middle to high school transition. A New Jersey native, Carolyn can often be seen pumping her fist and driving down the Turnpike with her husband and daughter in tow.
Daniela Emília Gomes Rodrigues (she/her)
Volunteer Program Manager

Daniela Emília (she/her) was born in the Lisbon area of Portugal and moved to the United States at age 8; since she’s lived in Brockton, MA. In May 2022, she graduated from Emmanuel College with a B.A. in Sociology with a concentration in Social Inequality and Social Justice. In addition, she also completed minors in Education and History. As a student, she held a wide variety of leadership roles on campus, including serving as a research assistant, a resident assistant, and different positions within the Black Student Union and the events coordination team, ECPT. Additionally, Daniela has worked with youth on self-esteem and self-advocacy focused initiatives and programs. Passionate about juvenile justice, she is excited to work at an organization that emphasizes a strengths-based approach to tutoring. In the future, Daniela hopes to go back to school for her Ph.D. and focus her research on how to re-imagine public schools’ disciplinary practices to pursue a career in school administration. Daniela’s other passions include traveling to new countries, reading novels by authors from Maya Angelou to Jasmine Guillory, and watching documentaries about anything and everything.

Karen Sama (she/her)
Out-of-School Time Program Director
Karen (she/her) grew up in Queens, New York, and earned her B.A. 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.
Maya Stroshane (she/her)
Institutional Giving Manager
A native Bostonian and former Boston Public School student, Maya (she/her) is excited to bring her nonprofit grant writing experience and her lifelong love of fiction writing to the 826 Boston mission. After studying literary arts at Brown University, Maya cobbled together a career as a content writer and editor for various companies, with her most recent venture being a grant writer for UTEC, Inc., which provides support services to gang-involved young adults in the Merrimack Valley. She hopes to continue to learn and thrive in the nonprofit world at 826 Boston. In her natural habitat, you will likely find Maya with earbuds in, lost in an epic fantasy soundtrack or a Broadway musical, daydreaming about the exploits of fictional characters (including her own).
Richard Wheelock (he/him/his)
Writers’ Room Manager at Boston International Newcomers Academy
Richie moved to Boston in 2013 after growing up in Illinois. He received his B.F.A. in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College, and he spent his first postgrad year as an AmeriCorps VISTA at 826 Boston, recruiting volunteers and building community partnerships. Richie is a writer, pianist, and illustrator, and he knows how to steam green beans just right. His favorite short story is “Sweet Jam in Las Vegas,” by Julian, a second grader from Chicago.
Patti Wilder (she/her)
HR Manager
Patti Wilder believes the most effective way to build community wealth is through service. Before joining 826 Boston, she managed the volunteer program at Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters and spent six years as a chef in Cambridge. Patti can often be found volunteering at animal shelters, mentoring with the Girl Scouts Gold Award, or working on a sewing project.
John I. Williams, Jr. (he/him)
Interim Executive Director
John Williams began his love of writing as an undergraduate at Amherst College.  During his first year in law school, he composed personal essays in his notebooks to help reason out the whys and wherefores of American jurisprudence. He has worked in business and education throughout his career, which has recently included the presidency of Muhlenberg College.  John is honored to have the opportunity to help lead 826 Boston forward.
Loni Zelfon (she/her)
Development and Events Manager
Loni first learned of 826 Boston through a collaboration in her former role managing youth programs at Future Chefs. She fell in love with Boston and its people more than fifteen years ago while completing her degree in Nutrition Science at Boston University. Loni brings her unique combination of fundraising and youth work experience to the development team, along with many cute photos of her baby.

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

Executive Committee
Gillian Kohli, 826 Boston Board President, Wellesley Books
Janet Tiampo, 826 Boston Board Vice President, 
Mimi Curran, 826 Boston Board Treasurer, retired, WGBH
Marc Foster, 826 Boston Board Clerk, Transparency Life Sciences, LLC
Charisse Howse, Tufts Health Plan

Board Members
David Bagnani, Fidelity Investments, Retired
Jill Harrison Berg
Andrew Cohn, LMEC
Donna Cowan, retired, Bolt, Beranek, and Newman
Jeff Mayersohn, Harvard Book Store
Samantha Simmons, HubSpot
Benielle Sims, Liberty Mutual
Kate Taylor
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
Jennifer De Leon
Anita Diamant
Andre Dubus III
A. W. Flaherty
Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Julia Glass
Meredith Goldstein
Mary Gordon
Julian Houston
Jeff Kinney
Lois Lowry
Tom Perrotta
Heidi Pitlor
Richard Russo
Jim Shepard

Youth Literary Advisory Board

Media contact

For all media inquiries please contact Kara Deese, Communications Manager, at 617-390-5610, or kara@826boston.org.


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

Need more info? Download our one-pager.

Mission Statement: 826 Boston is a nonprofit writing, tutoring, and publishing organization where students in grades K-12 and beyond can share their stories, amplify their voices, and develop as leaders in school and in life.

Quick Facts

Every year more than 4,500 students ages 6-18 participate in 826 Boston programs, in and out of school.

Since opening in 2007, 826 Boston has served more than 29,000 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

Stay tuned for more information on our latest strategic plan!

Follow Us!


826 Boston in the News

Screen Shot 2017-06-07 at 1.12.14 PM

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

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 12.22.59 PM

Share this page

Join our newsletter