I learned a lot about myself that I have not ever been told by anyone else, I guess I found another part of me.

Kunjame, STUDENT

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826CHI is a nonprofit 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.

Our services are structured around our understanding that great leaps in learning can happen with individualized attention, and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success. 826CHI’s student-centered, inquiry-driven methods, paired with our emphasis on publishing, gives students the tools they need to write their own paths forward.

We bridge the gap between writing and activism, where literacy becomes a powerful and creative tool for advocacy, self-expression, and world-building. By being in and building authentic community with fellow educators, community partners, teaching artists, volunteers, and guest authors and artists, 826CHI students become brave and active leaders and organizers in their communities and beyond.

We encourage the exploration of endless possibility through the power of writing for students, for teachers, and for communities:

Students at 826, smiling and holding a book


We equip students with the skills to write their own paths forward, undefined by circumstance.

Teacher speaking with students at 826


We support teachers as they explore new and exciting approaches to teaching writing and inspiring student engagement.

Parents and child at 826


We foster generations of creative writers and thinkers, who together will define a better future.

Our programs connect students to caring volunteers throughout the school day, after school, on the weekends, and in the summer. Learn more here.

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826CHI believes in building an accessible, inclusive, and equitable space for students, parents, teachers, volunteers, staff, and partners.

As an organization committed to encouraging youth in their creative expression, personal growth, and academic success, 826CHI recognizes the importance of diversity. In order to build and maintain a safe and supportive environment, we commit to inclusion. We will not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, nationality, immigration status, marital status, English fluency, parental status, military service or ability.

Communities Served

826CHI believes all Chicago youth should have equitable access to high-quality writing and literary arts education. With that in mind, 826CHI prioritizes programs and services for students and communities most impacted by systemic disinvestment in high-quality literacy and arts education, students who identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color), LGBTQIA+, neurodiverse learners, and  English language learners, as well as neighborhood schools.

826CHI's rigorous programs offer both practical skills and a platform for self-expression. We believe engagement with literary arts is restorative and supports strong relationship building. We endeavor to provide young people new ways to pursue expanded understanding of the world through writing. We believe that having the means and space to share one’s ideas is paramount to our development as individuals and our engagement with community, social, and civic issues. With this in mind, we aim to bring students from different neighborhoods and backgrounds to the table to share in the creative process of writing as often as possible. Learn more about our impact here.

Justice & Equity Dialogues

Each month as we reflect on issues that affect Chicago and the role the caring adults - staff, volunteers, interns - play in cultivating a diverse and inclusive third space for learning and self-expression in our students’ lives.


The 826 Stand

826CHI stands for each of our students, their voices, and their ever-present right to live. To read more about what we're doing to create an inclusive and supportive space below.

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Founded in 2002 by internationally acclaimed author Dave Eggers and award-winning educator Nínive Calegari, 826 Valencia inspired a network of creative writing and tutoring centers in cities across the United States. The 826 National office was established in 2008 to serve the growing network by providing strategic leadership, administration, and other resources to ensure the success of the 826 community. 826 National is an independently-operated 501(c)3.

826CHI is proud to be Chicago’s chapter of 826 National.


National Chapters

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We’re located at 1276 N. Milwaukee Avenue, in the Wicker Park neighborhood. 826CHI’s writing lab is located behind our storefront, the Wicker Park Secret Agent Supply Co.

By Train

We are very close to the Division Blue Line “L” Stop. If you’re coming from the Loop, take the Blue line toward O’Hare. We are located 2-minutes northwest on Milwaukee Avenue.

By Bus

The #56 MILWAUKEE bus will drop you off right near the store. We’re also within close walking distance of the #9 ASHLAND, #70 DIVISION and #72 NORTH buses.

By Car

  • From the loop, head up Milwaukee Ave.
  • From Southbound 90/94, take the North Ave. exit.
  • From Northbound 90/94 take the Division St. exit.
  • From elsewhere in the city, we are close to where Milwaukee, Ashland and Division cross.
  • From the North take the North stop exit off of 90/94. In the city, take Ashland to Milwaukee or Division to Milwaukee.
  • There is plenty of metered street parking on Milwaukee Avenue

    Want to host an event in our space? Click here for more information.

The Wicker Park Secret Agent Supply Co.

Like any great tutoring and writing center, we are located in the back of a secret agent supply store.

1276 N Milwaukee Ave
Chicago, IL 60622

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