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A Day in the Life at 826CHI

Ploughshares Literary Magazine - January 22, 2013

Tucked away in the heart of Chicago’s Wicker Park, 826CHI is a thriving non-profit writing and tutoring center, dedicated to Chicago’s six- to eighteen-year-old students. It is a member of Dave Eggers’ national organization, at which, throughout the country, volunteers and staff alike tutor over 30,000 students a year. That’s a lot of pens and pencils.Read More

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Chicago writes: Fish Day and other stories from 826CHI

WBEZ - April 11, 2012

WBEZ’s Front and Center project will be launching a series about literacy in late May. We are highlighting writing from organizations around the city as we lead up to the series. The following stories come from 826CHI, "a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write."Read More

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Cheating for charity

The Columbia Chronical - August 23, 2010

Nonprofit writing and tutoring center 826CHI has a simple but effective mission: make a wide variety of services not only accessible to Chicago grade school students, but free of charge as well. Funding for the increasingly popular programs at 826CHI, 1331 N. Milwaukee Ave., has been largely successful due to the unique fundraising programs it offers, said 826CHI co-director Mara O'Brien.Read More

826CHI wants you to say “YES!” to BORING

Next Gen Chicagonista - April 20, 2010

When I first moved to the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago, I decided to check out the area. While strolling down Milwaukee Avenue, I noticed a store called the Boring Store. With a bright orange awning, and an illustration of a private detective with a shopping cart—I was intrigued. I walked into the Boring Store, not having any idea what I would find. Would it really be boring, like the name boasted, or the exact opposite of the word?Read More

Creativity, Community, and Secret Agents

Curator - August 14, 2009

In Chicago, a glimmer of the world that ought to be, in our midst: Elementary-age kids chatter, laugh, and hunch over their latest writing projects, jotting down what they know about superheroes. Tutors admire their writing or ask prodding questions. My Morning Jacket plays in the background. Then, the kids circle on a carpet and do some very painless literary analysis. They deconstruct a genre with giggles and exclamations, eager to contribute, since the genre happens to be superhero tales.Read More

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826CHI: Tutoring and Workshops

MJM Books - June 30, 2009

MJM Books is committed to donating a portion of its time and profits to children’s literacy programs. 826 is a fantastic non-profit organization dedicated to improving children’s literacy through free tutoring and workshops. My experience with the organization has been as a volunteer with the Chicago chapter, known as 826CHI. In the front half of the building, 826CHI runs The Boring Store, which is definitely NOT A SECRET AGENT SPY STORE disguised as a boring old store. The Boring Store sign proclaims to the world outside that within one will find all the awls and drills needed for boring holes (har har) and that it most certainly does not sell secret agent spy equipment. Read More

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Miraculous Berry Fools Your Taste Buds

NBC Chicago: Around Town - November 24, 2008

Chicagoans with a sweet tooth will love the newest fruit in town, the "miracle berry."

Thursday night, the non-profit organization 826CHI threw a party celebrating Chicago's newest berry. Shipped from Florida, the small red fruit has an interesting effect on people's taste buds. When chewed, the berry releases a protein called miraculin, which will make sour foods taste sweet for about an hour afterward.Read More

Miracle fruit reaches Chicago

Chicago Tribune - November 22, 2008

Miracle fruit has landed in Chicago. And the response could not be sweeter.

The Wicker Park nonprofit group 826CHI threw a benefit Thursday night built around a small, red berry that messes with your taste buds. The berries were ordered from a Florida grower for about $3 apiece and shipped cold. Chew the fruit to release a protein — called, seriously, miraculin — and for about an hour, sour foods will taste sweet.Read More

How to be a spy

Chicago Tribune - April 19, 2007

Pssst. Hey kid. Over here. Did you know you can spy on your parents? It's true. All you have to do is get your folks to take you to The Boring Store, a 2-month-old spy equipment store in Wicker Park. It's filled with the latest and neatest in covert spying gear -- stuff like audio bugs, grappling hooks, fingerprint dust and fake mustaches.

And if you're a parent? You can get back at them with legitimate equipment and gadgets used by law enforcement officials -- all found at other spy stores in the area. All you need are some sneaky spy equipment, a passable Jack Bauer impersonation, and acceptance that if your kids ever find out you're spying on them, they will never, ever trust you again.Read More

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The Boring Store: A photo tour of 826CHI’s new Chicago spy shop

Windy Citizen - February 27, 2007

Wicker Park's 826CHI ( is an after-school writing program for Chicago kids ages 6-18. The center is part of a nation-wide chain of free writing programs founded by novelist Dave Eggers, who also publishes the popular McSweeney's magazine and humor web site. The program has been offering drop-in tutoring, field trips and bookbinding programs for local school kids for more than a year and has just put the finishing touches on its storefront: a mysterious and often-times hilarious "secret agent supply store" known as "The Boring Store."Read More

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