Volunteers are at the core of our service to students. At 826 Boston, you don’t need to be an expert writer to be an excellent volunteer. However, you do need a deep belief in the students we serve and an eagerness to learn together. The majority of our students are youth of color, and we especially seek volunteers who identify as Black, Indigenous, or people of color.
Before attending a Volunteer Tutor Training, please review our online Volunteer Orientation, which consists of the four tabs on this page. This orientation will provide you with an overview of 826 Boston’s history, impact, and commitment to justice; the different programs and volunteer opportunities available; and how to get started.
Volunteer tutors have a range of skills, experiences, and expertise, but share these core values:
An unwavering belief in youth and youth voices.
A willingness to meet each student’s unique needs and adapt to diverse learners.
A commitment to creating a safe, welcoming space that affirms each student’s identities, strengths, and experiences.
Humility and a sincere desire to grow your own skills as a tutor and educator.
826 Boston will provide initial and ongoing training for tutors on how to best:
Support students’ social-emotional needs and lift up their unique identities.
Coach students on writing and academic assignments.
Foster culturally relevant tutoring sessions.
Engage in a student-driven tutoring session.
Why we need you
We know that great leaps in learning can happen when students have individualized support from caring adults. Join our network of 700+ volunteers to provide tutoring one-on-one and in small groups. Every volunteer can make a difference.
300+ volunteers needed each week.
4,000+ students served annually.
32,000+ hours of individualized tutoring annually.
91 percent of published student authors reported pride and confidence in their writing.
98 percent of families report that their children are more confident doing school work and are better able to work independently.
100 percent of teachers report an increase in the quality of students’ writing.
Scroll to the top to continue to section two, About 826 Boston.
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.
We believe that great leaps in learning can happen with individualized attention and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success. We offer more than 32,000 hours of tutoring to more than 4,000 students each year. We couldn’t do it without the generous support of our volunteers’ time and skills.
826 Boston 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.
We 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.
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.
The 826 model was developed in 2002 by best-selling author Dave Eggers and educator Nínive Calegari, who were looking for a way to support overburdened teachers and connect talented working adults with underserved students. 826 Boston is one of nine 826 chapters nationwide. While 826 Boston is an independent organization, it draws on the national network for professional development support, program evaluation, and connection to national resources. In 2013, the 826 network won the American Literacy Prize for its “innovative history of addressing community illiteracy… and its unique approach to helping K-12 students achieve reading and writing proficiency.”
“Without education and hard work, life is living in a dark house.” – Abebech, a student at 826 Boston
2007: The Greater Boston Bigfoot Research Institute, the whimsical storefront entrance to 826 Boston’s main center, opens in Roxbury.
2013: 826 Boston opens the first 826 Writers’ Room, a program modeled on the college-level writing center at Northeastern University, at the John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science.
2016: 826 Boston launches a five-year strategic plan to expand the impact of the organization, led by the replication of the Writers’ Room Program. The second Writers’ Room opens at the Jeremiah E. Burke High School.
2017: The Writers’ Room at the Boston Teachers Union School opens.
2018: The Writers’ Room at Boston International Newcomers Academy opens.
2019: The Blanca Burgos Bilingual Writers’ Room at the Rafael Hernández School and the 826 Boston Writers‘ Room in collaboration with the Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers at Northeastern University open.
2020: 826 Boston launches the Youth Literary Advisory Board (YLAB), hiring students to work as artist-leaders, to publish a citywide youth writing anthology, and to produce the Excuse My Culturepodcast.
Scroll to the top to continue to section three, Volunteer Opportunities.
Our volunteers wear many hats and help out in a variety of 826 Boston programs. We anticipate a combination of in-person and remote volunteer opportunities available for the 2021-2022 academic year.
Learn more about our programs and partner schools.
826 Boston’s free programming supports Boston Public School students of all ages, on a wide range of subjects, both in and out of the classroom. Learn more about each of our programs and check out our Writers’ Room partner schools.
Learn more about the roles you can take on as a volunteer…
…with our Writers’ Rooms.
K-8 or High School Writers’ Room Tutor: Provide writing support to individual students or small groups when a class visits the space to work on a project, and help out with after-school activities like creative writing clubs and slam poetry teams.
Scheduled during the school year, Mondays through Thursdays, typically 1–2 hour shifts, 8:00 AM–4:00 PM.
Each shift will vary in content and structure. For example, volunteers might support college essay writing, help prepare for short answers on the Physics MCAS exam, or revise a piece for a poetry publishing project.
Volunteers are encouraged to commit to weekly shifts or sign up for individual shifts based on their schedule or expertise.
After-School Tutor: Complete homework with one to two students, read their work aloud, and support them as they draft, edit, and publish creative writing each semester.
In-person and virtual shifts Monday through Thursday 4:45–6:15 PM for grades 1–12.
Virtual shifts on Monday and Wednesday 6:45–8:00 PM for grades 6–12.
Volunteers with subject expertise in advanced math and science, Spanish, or Latin are especially encouraged to apply. Volunteers with subject expertise in humanities are always encouraged as well.
Volunteers are requested to commit to a weekly shift for a full semester.
Field Trip Volunteer: Offer writing support, storytelling ideas, and logistical help as a 1st-8th grade class creates, illustrates, and publishes their own original story all in one morning.
Currently on hiatus during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Scheduled during the school year, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:30 AM–12:30 PM.
Volunteers apply for specific roles, such as Storyteller (facilitate the Field Trip), Publisher (remote; call in over Zoom to check in on progress), or Production (support students in writing stories, type stories, and help print and assemble final books).
Young Authors’ Book Project Volunteer: Help students over the course of a few months as they study mentor texts, then draft, revise, and polish their own stories for publication in our annual collection of student writing.
Scheduled for late Fall and early Spring semesters, 1–3 hour shifts, during the school day.
Volunteers are encouraged to sign up for at least 6–8 shifts to build consistency for the students.
College Essay Volunteer: Work one-on-one with a high school junior or senior to brainstorm, outline, draft, or edit those all-important 650 words, either in a single day or over the course of a few sessions.
Scheduled in May through November, typically 1–2 hour shifts, Mondays through Fridays with occasional Saturday opportunities.
Opportunity for corporate volunteering.
Science Fair Boot Camp Volunteer: Support students grades 6 to 12 as they polish presentations and draft research papers for the Boston Public Schools Citywide Science fair.
Scheduled over winter, typically 2–3 hour shifts, Monday through Friday.
Volunteers should be comfortable with scientific writing and methodology.
Opportunity for corporate volunteering.
Workshop Leader or Volunteer: Develop and lead a creative writing workshop for students during February or April break, or support students’ writing during a school break or summer workshop.
Requests for workshop proposals are posted in In Tandem, our monthly volunteer newsletter.
Scheduled for weekday mornings and afternoons, typically three-hour shifts.
Opportunity for corporate volunteering.
Typing Ninja, Editorial Board, or Publishing Corps Volunteer: Type up student drafts, work alongside other volunteers to edit student stories and brainstorm chapter titles, or support students during peer editing for our biannual After-School Book Publication.
Scheduled for weekday afternoons and evenings, typically 2–3 hour shifts.
Editorial Board and Publishing Corps volunteers encouraged to commit to all three shifts.
Scroll to the top to continue to section four, Next Steps.
Next steps to volunteer with 826 Boston:
Review the 826 Boston New Volunteer Orientation Guide
The Orientation Guide provides an in-depth look at our programs, impact, and volunteer roles and responsibilities.
Submit a Tutor Application and Massachusetts Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI)
Volunteers must submit a Tutor Application and a CORI. Volunteers may also be asked to submit a CORI with Boston Public Schools (BPS) if they sign up for in-school programming.
Complete a New Tutor Training Session
During Tutor Trainings, we will review the skills needed to be a successful tutor in any of our programs. Register for an upcoming New Tutor Session using the form below.
Sign Up for Shifts
After attending a Tutor Training, volunteers can commit to regular weekly tutoring shifts or sign up for individual shifts based on their availability.
New Tutor Training Registration Form:
Zoom links for webinar based trainings will be provided in reminder emails the week before the training. In-person trainings will be held at our Tutoring Center, 3035 Washington St, Boston, MA 02119.
If you can’t wait to get started…
…read more about the role of 826 Boston in the community.