“My time at 826CHI taught me to value thoughts and trust my voice. There is something so powerful about a community of young writers. I feel that that experience fueled my confidence in my writing but also in myself as a person worth sharing her story.” - Kara K., Grade 11

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After-School Writing Lab

For the 2021-2022 school year, After-School Writing Lab meets will meet four days a week in person at our Wicker Park location. Our caring and supportive volunteers and facilitators will provide individualized assistance with ELA and writing-based homework, writing skills, and literacy enrichment to first through eighth graders. Students will also sharpen their writing skills with a guided reading and creative writing activities. Students will have their writing published in a bilingual chapbook and celebrated by the 826CHI community.

Purchase our recent publication, Insert Title Here 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 2021-2022 school year are now open!

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Field Trips

Field Trips will begin in January 2022. Field trips will be hosted on weekday mornings in our Wicker Park location. We will limit the size of classrooms to offer our 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 Asia at asia@826chi.org.

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 3-12:
Script This!

Lights, Camera, Action! Your students will turn into actors, directors, and playwrights in this field trip! Students will learn the theatrical way of creating characters, plots, and settings in order to learn the moving parts of a play. These theatrical troupes will write a mini play and perform it for the class.  

Applications for 2021 Field Trips will be announced in December

apply Now
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Grades 1-3:
Mission Poetry 

Students will be taken on a poetry adventure and be tasked with writing a series of poems to help Secret Agent Admiral Moody feel better after they became overwhelmed by all the work going on around the secret publishing house. Their mission will be to write these emotion-centered poems for Admiral Moody - topics like What is Your Happy? What Turns Your Frown Upside Down? What Do Feelings Sound Like? What Makes You Feel Calm When You're Overwhelmed?

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 will receive 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 collage art 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 learn how to extract the DNA from a strawberry and will be able to see the DNA inside of it.

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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 Natasha for more info at natasha@826chi.org.

The workshops schedule for the 21-22 school year has been determined. However, we take requests year-round for one-off opportunities. Community Partnership applications for Workshops are reviewed quarterly.

Apply Now
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Teen Writers Studio

Teen Writers Studio The Teen Writers Studio (TWS) is a space for rising writers (9th-12th graders) and leaders to meet, write, and work collaboratively. Sessions are designed around writing/editing skills along with social time. Teens are also divided into cohorts.

The Teaching Artist cohort meets monthly to learn skills towards facilitating writing workshops, the basic tenants of arts education, and teaching philosophies. The Communications/Publications cohort meets monthly to learn from writing industry professionals about all the things that go into having a book published, putting on literary events, and the overall literary landscape.

In addition to attending the Tuesday meetings, TWS members complete a 20-hour service requirement over the course of the school year by volunteering in 826CHI's After School Writing Lab program and/or other opportunities provided by the program. We also will have a slew of guest authors, artists, and cultural practitioners that will inform our writing and learning.  

Each spring, TWS students produce a chapbook, which they share and celebrate at a release party with friends, family, and 826CHI’s community. Purchase 2020-2021's publication, Rising Shadows, 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  
Program Highlights

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 with students. 826CHI staff, volunteers, and Teaching Artists support teachers' 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