April 8, 2020

826CHI Goes Digital

In kinship with the rest of the world, 826CHI closed up our storefront and paused all activity in our writing lab on Friday, March 13th. We’re in our third week of sheltering in place and are working every day to adapt.


At 826CHI, we start our mornings together on Zoom. Working from home means we all have the uniquely intimate opportunity to peek inside each others’ home and work spaces. Proud plant parents on the team show off their healthy geraniums on window sills that overlook our quiet streets. We share our favorite coffee mugs, and make space for the curious pets and children who investigate our video calls. We leave these calls recharged in our purpose and ready to support our community. 


We are grateful for the support of 826CHI’s Board of Directors. We’re approaching a recession with unknown impacts and outcomes. As we review financial contingencies and learn how to fundraise in this new context, we have faith that we will be able to sustain our mission. The board sends us regular messages of support, works double-time to find new resources for us, and connects us to local businesses who donate services and proceeds to 826CHI. We aren’t in this alone; nationally, each 826 Executive Director has been working with the 826 National office to crowdsource,  brainstorm, and tackle the imminent challenges in our quest to amplify and center the youth voices of our communities, especially in times of crisis.


We have always believed that all young people deserve the chance to tell their own stories, regardless of their circumstances. Now, in the face of a pandemic upheaving the world as we know it, our belief remains unwavering. Throughout history, young people’s stories have shaped our world: Anne Frank was a teenager when she wrote her diary. S.E. Hinton was 17 when she wrote The Outsiders. Izzy was 18 when she wrote She’Cago. These works have shaped our cultural consciousness, reminding us what it means to be a young person finding their voice. There’s wisdom in allowing our youth to lead the way—especially now, when none of us know what brave new world is ahead of us.

Encourage the young people in your life to write right now: and access 826 National for free prompts and resources that can help encourage youth to articulate what they’re feeling.

Stay tuned for more 826CHI updates coming next week. In the meantime:

We'd like to share what some of the 826CHI team is currently reading.

Chinyere Farr-Douglas, Development and Communications Associate, is currently reading The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman.

Chloe Blackshear, Volunteer Manager, is reading Milkman by Anna Burns.

Kolby Ledbetter, Volunteer Engagement Associate, is reading Shanghai Girls by Lisa See.

Molly Fannin, Director of Development, is reading Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.

Natasha Mijares, Interim Director of Programs, is reading The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen.

Nohemi Rosales, Program and Recruitment Coordinator, is reading Life on Mars by Tracy K. Smith.

Ola Faleti, Development Manager, is reading This is Your Brain on Birth Control by Sarah Hill.

Waringa Hunja, Publications Manager, just finished reading Killer of the Flower Moon by David Grann. She is now reading Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe