“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

After-School Writing Lab (ASWL) takes place on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons (4pm - 6pm) at our Wicker Park Writing Lab, for students in 2nd through 8th grade.

In this special After School Writing Lab 7 week spring session, students will explore interdisciplinary forms of poetry, storytelling, collage and audio recording. The program will culminate with a gallery exhibition, listening party and live reading at 826CHI’s Spring Showcase on May 30th.

Spring session applications OPEN!

April 17th - May 30th
Wednesdays & Thursdays
4pm - 6pm

Sign up for ASWL at our Wicker Park Writing Lab here:
In English / En Español

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

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Field Trips

Field trips are hosted on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings at our Wicker Park location. Field Trips are tuition-free and offered to Chicago Public School classes in grades one through twelve. Each Field Trip opportunity focuses on a variety of writing skills and writing experiences.

Each of our eight 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 want your classrooms to join for a Field Trip, apply here. Email programs@826chi.org for questions!

Field trips run Sept 19th through May 29th

Grades 1-4

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? This Field Trip is great for building empathy and self-awareness into the classroom.

Grades 4-8

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. This Field Trip is perfect for building deeper connections among students in the classroom.

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. This Field Trip is ideal for overcoming writers block and for students tackling personal statements or scholarship essays. This Field Trip helps share effective, tangible, and memorable skills into the writing process and helps make writing feel more fun for students who may not be a fan of writing.

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. This Field Trip is ideal for those students struggling to find their original voices and is a great accompanying activity for students in the personal statement and scholarship essay process.

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. This Field Trip is great for any student who is a fan of Chicago music and those who love Chicago and want to build deeper and more authentic connections with their city.

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. This Field Trip is perfect for both the ELA classroom as well as the science classroom! This Field Trip is ideal for those students who may not see themselves as writers (yet!) and great for teachers who want to push their students to explore their creative voices a bit further.

Grades 5-12

Spoken Word Poetry (NEW!)

Students will learn about the history of spoken word poetry and its deep roots in Chicago. They will also apply poetic elements to their own original poems individually and as a group and get the chance to share out loud. This Field Trip is great for students who are expressive and enjoy spoken word poetry. This is a great addition for classrooms preparing for, culminating, or in the middle of a poetry unit.

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. This Field Trip is great for students who enjoy getting quirky and doing kinesthetic activities!

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Summer Programs

We are excited to announce the return of our Summer Programs! For 2023 we will be holding a total of four camps in our Wicker Park Writing Lab! From anime to food criticism, we have something for every imaginative writer. During Summer Programs students will also spend plenty of time outside, and exploring our neighborhood and city. All camps are 100% tuition-free.

There currently aren't any Summer Programs scheduled. Check back later!
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Writing Workshops & Community Partnerships

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? email us at programs@826chi.org

Applications for the 2023-2024 school-year are OPEN!

Apply Now
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Teen Writers Studio

Teen Writers Studio (TWS) is a year-long creative writing workshop that connects high school students to fellow writers, including peers and older professionals in the field. It’s open to anyone in 7th-12th grade and welcomes youth from all over the city. TWS members meet frequently each month to write together, talk about writing, and produce a literary chapbook each year. If you’re into any of the above, this space is for you.

Sessions start September 19th, 2023 and run until May 23rd, 2024, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4:00-6:00PM at the 826CHI's Wicker Park Teen Space and Writing Lab.

Each spring, TWS students produce a chapbook, which they share and celebrate at a release party with friends, family, and 826CHI’s community. Purchase 2022-2023's publication, All the Beauty It Brings, at the Wicker Park Secret Agent Supply Co.

Applications for the 2023-2024 Teen Writer's Studio cohort are 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 any questions, email us at programs@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. Through our programs, we turn our students into published authors. Each year, we publish more than 100 unique projects, from professionally edited, printed, and designed books to books and zines printed and bound in-house by our staff.

Students’ work is featured in Chicago Public Library branches across the city, shelved in CPS school libraries, prominently displayed in our writing lab to inspire future student-authors, and sold in and independent bookstores throughout the city and 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.

Field Trip Chapbooks

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

Check out all 826CHI student publications by visiting our Wicker Park Secret Agent Supply Co. Tuesdays-Saturdays!

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