"Creative writing education is more than just teaching composition and storytelling, it's inspiring a student to find their voice. The internal reflection required to develop a personal story, and the self confidence needed to put it into the world, have a transformative impact on a student's development. The skills and experiences 826CHI is giving to their students, is equipping them for success both inside and outside of the classroom."
-Nate, Board Member

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After-School Writing Lab

For the 2020-2021 school year, After-School Writing Lab meets four days a week in a virtual setting. And our caring and supportive volunteers offer individualized assistance with ELA homework, writing skills, or writing homework to first through eighth graders. Students also sharpen their writing skills with a guided reading and creative writing activities. Each semester, their writing is published in a chapbook and celebrated by the 826CHI community.

Purchase our recent publication, Happy as a Rollercoaster at the Wicker Park Secret Agent Supply Co.

Need more info? Contact the Programs team at programs@826chi.org.

Sign up here:
in English
en Español

Applications for After-School Writing Lab 2020-2021 are now open!

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Field Trips

For the 2020-2021 school-year, field trips will occur on weekday mornings in which we virtually connect with classrooms for creative writing experiences. Field Trips are tuition-free, offered to Chicago Public School classes in grades one through twelve, and focus on a variety of writing skills.

Each of our six different Field Trip experiences is designed to be project-based, collaborative, playful, empowering, imaginative, and to encourage students to share their ideas in their own unique voices.

If you have questions, email Natasha at natasha@826chi.org

Applications for 2020-2021 Field Trips are open now (Sept. 15th)!

apply Now
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Grades 1-4:
Storytelling & Bookmaking

Students are challenged to pen a brand new, totally original story as a class, with the aid of 826CHI’s volunteer writing coaches. Each student leaves with their very own book, as an Officially Published Author.

Grades 5-8:
Small Group Storytelling & Bookmaking

Young authors work in small groups to pen completely original stories. At the outset, each group determines one “pillar” of the story--protagonist, sidekick, antagonist, and setting--then works to combine those elements into their own, unique tale. Each student leaves with a copy of their group’s book, as a published author.

Grades 5-12:
Images & Imagination

One of 826CHI’s favorite tools for combating writer's block and inspiring creativity, this lesson uses clippings from National Geographic magazines and the promptings of volunteer writing coaches to guide students through the journey of writing an original story.

Grades 8-12:
"I Remember..." Memoir Writing

Because we believe in the inherent value and power of each student’s experience, this lesson is designed to bring impactful memories to the page. Through a series of short exercises designed to tap into memory and identity, students explore their voices, perspectives, and experiences through writing.

Grades 8-12: 
Chi-Town Stand Up

Similar to our Memoir Field Trip, students will be asked to reflect on their experiences in Chicago through a variety of generative writing activities. Students will be challenged to counter the negative narrative that is often told about Chicago by writing their truth about the city that they call home.

Grades 5-7:
The Ultimate Origin Story

This exciting workshop transforms students into storytelling scientists. Combining their knowledge gained from lessons on both DNA and plot development, students will create their own superhero, followed by their own comic book story addressing the origins of their superhero.The field trip culminates in a DNA extraction experiment where students will smash up strawberries and take a look at the DNA inside them.

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Writing Workshops & Community Partnerships

Fall & Spring Workshops

826CHI works in collaboration with after-school programs and community-based organizations to offer creative writing workshops to students in neighborhoods across Chicago. These workshops, which explore writing and another area of study, include:

All of our workshops are Common Core Standards-aligned. 

Do you work with students who would benefit from two or three session writing workshops in your space or ours? Have an idea for a workshop? Contact Asia for more info at asia@826chi.org.

Community Partnership applications for Workshops are reviewed quarterly.

Apply Now
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Teen Writers Studio

Twice a month throughout the school year, a group of teens from all over the city will meet virtually to practice writing and explore their personal styles. Professional authors visit to lead workshops, share their experiences as writers, and introduce students to a variety of genres. Additionally, Teen Writers Studio participants complete twenty hours of service by volunteering at After-School Tutoring & Writing and by representing 826CHI at outreach events across Chicago.

Each spring, TWS students produce a chapbook, which they share and celebrate at a release party with friends, family, and 826CHI’s community. Purchase 2019-2020's publication, Let Us Keep What We Love, at the Wicker Park Secret Agent Supply.

If you have questions, email Asia at asia@826chi.org.

Registration for Teen Writer's Studio is now open!

apply here
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In-school Partnerships

Built to meet the needs of educators, our In-School Partnerships program brings the 826CHI education team into classrooms and community centers across the city to work virtually with students. 826CHI staff and volunteers support teacher's existing curricula and/or collaborate on new ideas. If you are a classroom teacher or community-based educator looking to partner with 826CHI, please share your project idea with us by applying today. 

If you have questions, email Asia at asia@826chi.org.

In-School Partnership applications are reviewed bi-annually in January and August.

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Student Publishing

At 826CHI, our project-based approach to teaching writing affirms all student voices as valuable and brilliant. We publish more than 100 unique volumes of books each year and our programs almost always end with a finished product for students to keep and share.

Students’ work is featured in Chicago Public Library branches across the city, shelved in their school libraries, prominently displayed in our writing lab to inspire future student-authors, and sold in our storefront, the Wicker Park Secret Agent Supply Co.

Books from each program


Published dozens of times each year as the culmination of smaller, multi-week projects.

Young Authors Book Project

 Each year 826CHI partners with CPS classrooms on an extended writing project which culminates in a specially designed and beautifully bound book.

The 826CHI Compendium

Published once every two years. Each volume of this anthology features republished favorites from students of all ages, from across our programs. Also includes pieces by Chicago writers between the ages of 6 and 18, through an open call for submissions.

Field Trip Chapbooks

Published at the end of each two-hour creative writing session, students in the Storytelling & Bookmaking program take home copies of the original story they wrote together as a class.

Check out all of 826CHI student publications in our Wicker Park Secret Agent Supply Co.

Book Store

Some of our Published Works

Purchase copies at The Secret Agent Supply or check out of your local Chicago library branch.

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826CHI is honored to partner with a number of non-profit organizations, businesses, and foundations throughout Chicago.

Program Partners

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826 Digital

Wherever you are, you can bring the 826 spirit and methodology to your community with 826 Digital. 826 Digital is an online platform that hosts a collection of engaging, adaptable, standards-based resources designed to captivate young writers and empower their educators.

826 Digital was created by teachers for teachers; it hosts an ever-expanding collection of lessons, projects, writing prompts, and student writing that brings an unconventional and engaging approach to teaching writing. 

Explore 826 Digital's educator-created and student-approved resources.

826 Digital