826 Boston’s Youth Literary Advisory Board (YLAB) represents students from all six of 826 Boston Writers’ Rooms. YLAB members apply and are selected in the fall and receive paid stipends for their work during the school year as artist-leaders and peer editors. The students meet weekly, and their work culminates every year in a final project. Past projects have included a podcast and a professionally printed book.

The 2020-2021 YLAB members are:

Blessing is a 15-year-old freshman at Brooke High School. She was born in Nigeria and raised in Boston. Her hobbies include taking walks, listening to many different genres of music, journaling, and reading. She is passionate about poetry and upliftment.

Eliza was born in Pennsylvania and raised in Dorchester, MA. They are 16 years old and a sophomore in high school. They attend the Henderson Inclusion School. They enjoy writing and reading, despite their dyslexia. While in quarantine, they have developed a love of writing letters to people and pen-pals. They also run track and do other sports. They really enjoy spending time with family and friends.

Justis is a 15-year old freshman at Jeremiah E. Burke High School. Oftentimes, she spends her free time working on her creative endeavors and listening to music. Justis prioritizes education and focuses on making sure that she gets the most out of it.

Kaylany is a Roxbury native who enjoys cooking, dancing, and going to Chez Vous to go roller skating.

Khaiyrah is 14 years old and is a proud homeschool student. She was born and raised in Jamaica Plain. She previously attended 826 Boston’s After-School Writing and Tutoring Program. Khaiyrah enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with extended family. Her favorite sport is gymnastics.

Oriana is 14 years old and attends Boston Latin School. She was born and raised in Roxbury and is passionate about social justice and improving her community. In her free time, she enjoys listening to music while reading, writing, painting, or drawing. At school, Oriana loves public speaking, math, and using her strengths to be a leader. She would never miss out on an opportunity to learn, and is currently improving her acting and roller-skating skills!

Born and raised in Dorchester, Tariq is 18 years old and a student at John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science in Roxbury, Massachusetts. He’s an avid fan of rap music and it influences his poetry greatly. This fueled his passion for writing, in conjunction with his love for wordplay and rhyming.

Yaretssy is 14 years old. She attends the Rafael Hernández School. She used to attend 826 Boston’s After-School Writing and Tutoring Program at 826 Boston. She was born and raised in the Bronx in New York, but she now lives in Roslindale, Boston.

Zariah is a senior in high school. She attended Burke High School for two years, but then relocated. She was introduced to 826 through Burke’s Writers’ Room. She loves reading and writing, and music is by far her favorite form of art. She loves food—especially pasta (and fried chicken). She likes making everything a joke so she can make people smile. She’s weirdly loud, but quiet.

If you have any other questions about the YLAB—please send us an email.

YLAB’s mission—as written by the inaugural cohort of participants—states:

826 Boston’s Youth Literary Advisory Board (YLAB) is a program that exists to inspire youth. It provides a supportive community,  a safe space for teens,  and a place to fulfill self- expression. It’s a transformative experience that encourages students to be comfortable with their self-identity.

YLAB is student-driven. We are a collective providing students support to discover their artistic voice through book publishing, podcasts, and civic engagement opportunities to fuel change. We strive to break the mold, push back against stereotypes about our generation, and take power in society.

YLAB believes that our identity should not be defined by adults or society. Our identity should be defined by us. We believe in ensuring that unheard voices are heard. We believe in limitless expression.