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These CPS Kids Can Teach Us A Lot About Resisting Chicago Segregation

Chicagoist, June 7th, 2017

Chicago regularly ranks among the most segregated cities in America. The racial and socioeconomic divisions ingrained within the city run deep; and they take a massive toll, both human and financial. The legacy won’t easily be reversed, but for a glimmer of hope, you might want to turn to the kids.

P.S. You Sound Like Someone I Can Trust—the new book from 826CHI, the local chapter of indispensable youth tutoring network 826—collects the correspondence between 62 teen students, one half from the North Side, the other from the South Side. Across 149 letters, tenth-grade students from Amundsen High School, up near the border between Ravenswood and Andersonville, get to know eighth-grade students in Emiliano Zapata Academy, in Little Village, in a way that might not otherwise be so free-flowing given geographical barriers and demographic differences.Read More

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Student Pen-Pals Anthologize Their Lives in a Divided Chicago

Citylab, June 20th, 2017

Once you’ve settled into a city, it can be pretty comfortable (and easy) to stick within certain nooks and corners. A neighborhood café, playground, or bookstore can become personalized constants—and sometimes, you can live your whole life in a city without stepping beyond familiar landmarks. It’s a pattern of living, and, less whimsically, a common symptom of segregation—one that runs through the city of Chicago. For an intimate perspective, you may want to chat with some of the city’s kids.

P.S. You Sound Like Someone I Can Trust is a new book that renders the lived experiences of 8th-grade and 10th-grade students who live in different parts of the city. A collaboration between 826CHI, a youth tutoring nonprofit, and two Chicago public schools, the book is an anthology of correspondence between 62 teenage students—one stack of letters sent from Amundsen High, up north, and the other from the Emiliano Zapata Academy in Little Village.Read More

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A new book from 826CHI shows how friendships develop through letter writing

Chicago Reader, June 20th, 2017

When Eliza Ramirez's eighth-grade students at Emiliano Zapata Academy in Little Village learned that they'd be spending the fall and winter corresponding with a class of tenth graders at Amundsen High School in Ravenswood and that the letters would be collected into a book published by 826CHI, a nonprofit writing center, they were skeptical. What was the point of writing letters, they wondered, in this marvelous age of text messages and Snapchat? How could ink on paper possibly compare to the magic of cat filters?

The tenth graders weren't really into it, either. It took a little while for the charms of letter writing to become apparent. The first exchanges, initiated by the eighth graders, were collections of facts (ages, neighborhoods, numbers of siblings, favorite foods and activities) and awkward questions (what were the tenth graders' favorite foods and activities?). But, gradually, with some prompting from their teachers and 826 volunteers, things began to change.Read More

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LIT 50 2017

Newcity, May 25th, 2017

The literary community of Chicago has long responded to political and social change and this year is no exception. Public funding is being stripped from arts, humanities and science institutions that foster America’s generative creativity and imagination. In anticipation, writers, bookstores and literary enterprises began the year with Writers Resist, a citywide flexing of creative voices against a president who has made clear his narrow and faulty view of Chicago. It’s a year where independent bookstores, when confronted with Amazon’s brick-and-mortar plans, banded together to remind readers and consumers that buying local helps retain communities. It’s a time when the first national museum dedicated to writers comes to town, when the city comes together to celebrate the centennial of the late Pulitzer Prize winner and Poet Laureate Gwendolyn Brooks, when young people gain sustenance from the biggest slam poetry festival in the country and our independent publishers continue to shape conversations across the nation.
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Kendra Curry-Khanna, Executive Director, 826CHI
Sculptor, educator and vintage typewriter collector Kendra Curry-Khanna heads 826CHI, a nonprofit organization that helps 2,500 students each year with after-school tutoring, creative writing workshops, field trips, in-school support, help for English language learners, and assistance with student publications. Each month, “Justice & Equity Dialogues” allow for discussion about issues affecting students. 826CHI recently held a Know Your Rights Day with the National Immigrant Justice Center.

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Word on the Street: American Writers Museum Opens in Chicago

Third Coast Review, May 18th, 2017

It’s quite literally one of a kind. Though a city like Chicago could rest on its laurels museum-wise, with a glittering crown of over 60 institutions to its name, the city of Big Shoulders once again works just a little bit harder. This time, it’s to celebrate an art not yet singularly celebrated in any institution in the US- that of the written word. Yesterday’s grand opening ceremony for the American Writers Museum wasn’t just unique for Chicago, but for the nation as a whole.

As was fitting for a national first, the ribbon cutting was itself a prestigious affair, with the museum hosting special guests like Mayor Rahm Emanuel as well as writers like Stuart Dybek and guest of honor, David McCullough. Letters congratulating the city and the museum board itself were read to the crowd of attendees, including high praise from both Barack and Michelle Obama and George and Laura Bush on honoring the written word and the freedom of expression it brings. At the same time, the museum took time to celebrate and inspire young authors, with two young girls from 826 Chi sharing short pieces at the ceremony.Read More

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23 Amazing Hidden Gems in Illinois

The Crazy Tourist, February 22, 2017

Have you ever dreamed about being a sleek super spy, or maybe a dashing James Bond? Then this store is perfect for you! Located in Chicago, this is a veritable mecca for all those in need of super important gadgets like secret disguises, carrier pigeons, or whatever you need to attempt your next covert op!

This store boasts a collection of supplies that even the CIA would be proud of. And, spyglasses and voice modulators have never had a more noble purpose. Whenever you shop here, you’ll be supporting a good cause while you do it – all proceeds go to the 826 non-profit organizations that runs a children’s writing workshop and tutoring center. Even adults have secret fantasies, so why not bring them to life here and help children while you’re at it? What more could you ask for!Read More

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These Chicago Charities and Organizations Need Your Help in 2017

Thrillist, January 25, 2017

This time of year, many of us are trying to hold ourselves to those promises we made sometime around midnight on December 31. But whether or not our efforts to personally be better fail, there aren’t many excuses to not practice goodwill towards others. In Chicago, it’s easier than ever to find volunteer opportunities thanks to sites like Chicago Cares, One Good Deed Chicago, and VolunteerMatch. To follow their lead, we’re highlighting over two dozen more local organizations where you can help out your fellow Windy City dwellers. In many cases, even a little effort or a modest donation might just be life-changing for someone in need.

Promote children's literacy and spark creativity:
It's easy to help out at Open Books, whether you want to just drop off some used tomes, shelve and pack up donations in the West Loop or Pilsen bookstores, or jump into one of their many reading and creating writing programs for Chicago Public Schools students. Similarly, volunteer-run writing and publishing programs at 826CHI are supported by other creative do-gooders operating the adjacent Secret Agent Supply Co store, which sells espionage-themed gadgets and toys to benefit the organization.Read More

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Cool Bookish Places: The Wicker Park Secret Agent Supply Co.

Bookriot, November 26, 2016

Stranded in Chicago after a rendezvous went wrong? Stuck with no way to smuggle your secret message into your co-conspirator’s bag of groceries? Simply seeking to kill time while waiting for your fellow traveler? Fear not, spies – the Wicker Park Secret Agent Supply Co. has it handled.

Located on an unassuming block of Milwaukee Avenue, within shouting distance of two wig shops (perfect for enhancing your disguise), the Secret Agent Supply Co. sells every essential tool for the modern spy: shaving cream cans with false bottoms (to hide contraband), realistic-looking fake security cameras (to discourage your meddling twin), and tuxedo cell phone cases (to help your mobile device blend in at a classy party).Read More

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What it means for independent bookstores when Amazon moves into town

WGN 9 News, September 7, 2016

Amazon is no stranger to online shoppers. Their book business, one survey says, represents 41% of all book sales leaving independent brick and mortars scrambling for what's left.

The news of a new Amazon bookstore coming to Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood is creating some waves.

Independent bookstores are worried Amazon is now trying to beat them at their own game by putting up a store, not on Michigan Ave, but in a Chicago neighborhood. Something an independent store might do.Read More

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Best mysterious storefront

Newcity, October 28, 2016

If curiosity is the mother of invention, then writing nonprofit 826CHI is doing the right thing by naming their storefront “The Secret Agent Supply Co.” Located in Wicker Park and previously called “The Boring Store,” they sell books written by student-authors in their programs and local authors, books put out by local indie presses, and lots of children’s books. They also sell toys and gadgets befitting the “secret agent” theme such as disguises and invisible ink pens, and all sorts of travel-themed items, from notebooks and journals to maps and luggage tags. All proceeds go to 826CHI’s writing programs, which mostly benefit low-income students ages six to eighteen and their teachers. Read More

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