Congratulations, Spy! How does it feel?
Matt : Wow, thank you! I feel honored, to be surrounded but such intelligent, creative, and talented agents and spies here and throughout the city.
Jeff: So exciting! Thank you so much, it’s an honor to be the spy of the month. I feel like this is definitely going to blow my cover though.
How did you first get involved as 826CHI?
Matt: It wasn’t long after arriving in the Windy City (from cheesehead territory) that I heard some rumblings about secret agents being here in Chicago, so naturally, it piqued my interest. Then as Admiral Moody may have planned it, I found an interesting opportunity to work together on a special mission and as soon as I stepped into the Secret Agent Supply Store, I knew I had to dive deeper.
Jeff: I think my friend Megan Pelto suggested it to me(she is awesome go look at her illustrations). My first project was working on a chapter book, and it was really inspiring to see what the talented 826 students wrote about my illustrations.
What has been your favorite 826 experience so far?
Matt: Interviewing staff, volunteers, students, parents, and educators for the CYVN grant project. I saw the enormous impact 826 has on the community, students, and everyone involved in it and it really is something special.
Jeff: Definitely the window display that I did this winter. It was a big challenge, and one of the largest things I’ve ever printed! I was very happy with the end result and learned a ton along the way.
What do you do when you aren't working undercover?
Matt: I can often be found with a camera in hand wandering around with the Chicago Analog league or making beeps and beats with synthesizers and drum machines.
Jeff: Reading comics, going to concerts around town, and drawing as much as possible. But mostly just hanging out with my adorable dog, and best friend Ellie ( also known as Elbow, or El).
Our top agents always have the best codenames. What's yours?
Matt: Agent Frame - framing a photo, drawing frames for animations, reframing thoughts and ideas. Frames all day!
Jeff: I’ve had many code names but the one that stuck was Bobcat.
Any words of wisdom for aspiring spies of the month?
Matt: Never stop learning! You are surrounded by amazing talent and support, tap into them!
Jeff: Learn new stuff and always be observant! But most importantly, have fun and enjoy what you do!
Our 826 Day event on the roof of Ace Hotel Chicago was a beautiful celebration of our community from our donors to our students and everyone in between (pictured above is 826CHI supporter TASHA’s performance). Our book P.S. You Sound Like Someone I Can Trust was available in the hotel’s suites, Ace Hotel Chicago has hosted our annual love-themed print show featuring work by local artists inspired by our students writing on love, and their Senior Sales Manager, Tenasha Wilcoxon, spoke to our students in After-School Tutoring & Writing’s Speakers & Snacks series about what it’s like to work at a hotel.
The partnership between East Village Youth Program and 826CHI is a yearly collaboration to help students achieve their goal of being accepted into their college of choice and for many to be the first in their family to attend college. This fall, 826CHI staff and 12 volunteers worked with 13 high school seniors on their personal statements for college applications. The partnership continues in the Spring when 826CHI and volunteers will return to EVYP to support students as they apply for scholarships.