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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

826CHI’s executive director helps boost local youths’ writing cred, one mustache at a time

Centerstage - February 26, 2007

Imagination is key when it comes to inspiring kids to write. So building a Boring Store as the source of funds for after-school center 826CHI would be a hard sell…if it weren't a super-duper, top-secret cover for what's actually a spy supply depot. Enter the storefront and you'll find everything from envelope x-ray spray to banana cell phone covers. The best part: When you buy your spy gear, your money goes to a good cause.Read More

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“The Boring Store” is not so boring after all

Chicagonista - February 4, 2007

Imagine you are driving along N. Milwaukee Ave. checking out the shops when you see one that catches your eye. The huge signage at 1331 N. Milwaukee has a vintage feel to it with a man running with a shopping cart and you are intrigued…but then you see it’s called The Boring Store! What is this place?

Well, it turns out that The Boring Store is a sort of a spy-shop posing as a front for a fabulous not-for-profit organization called 826CHI which fosters creative and expository writing skills for kids ages 6 – 18. 100% of the sales from this secret agent supply shop are made with a sense of humor and benefit the free programming of 826CHI, the REAL idea behind the storefront.Read More

A Heartwarming Work of Staggering Generosity

Chicago Reader, November 10, 2005

Last year, when she was in second grade, Kristie De Luna couldn't wait to do her homework. It was assigned for the whole week each Monday, and she'd come home and want to tear through it all. "I'd get tired," says her father, Gonzalo, "and have to persuade her to save some for later."

In third grade something changed. "It was boring" is all Kristie will say. Gonzalo and his wife, Janet, talked about getting their daughter a tutor, but most of the ones they found were too expensive, as much as $400 a month. Then a month ago a copy of Chicago Journal appeared on the family's front steps, and on the cover was a story about something called 826CHI. Gonzalo says he got pulled into reading it because it mentioned a store that sold "secret-agent supplies." The next paragraph mentioned free tutoring. Read More

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