826 Boston is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write.

Our services are structured around the understanding that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success. With this understanding in mind, we provide after-school tutoring, field trips, creative writing workshops, in-school tutoring, help for English Language Learners, and in-depth publishing projects.

Each of our free programs seeks to strengthen each student’s power to express ideas effectively, creatively, confidently, and in his or her individual voice.


How many students do you serve each year and where do they come from?
826 Boston provides free writing and tutoring programs for Boston students ages 6 to 18, serving more than 3,500 students and forming supportive partnerships with 150 teachers annually.

How much does it cost to attend 826 Boston?
All of our student programming is free!

When did 826 Boston open?
The late Mayor Menino cut the ribbon in front of the Greater Boston Bigfoot Research Institute in 2007.

How many volunteers are involved with 826 Boston and who are they?
826 Boston maintains a network of more than 2,500 volunteers from the Boston community—including professional writers, artists, and teachers. More than 600 volunteers regularly devote their time and talents to our programs. These qualified and compassionate individuals are involved in each and every program 826 Boston offers.

Why is it called 826 Boston?
The flagship chapter of 826 (826 Valencia) opened its doors at 826 Valencia St. in San Francisco. The original address inspired the name of 826 National and our chapters across the country.

826 Boston aims to build communities of empowered young writers who will succeed in school, attend college, and carry with them a life-long love of writing and reading.

Our programs are designed to motivate students to complete their schoolwork, improve confidence in their writing skills, and foster positive relationships with adult mentors.

To gauge the impact of our programs, 826 Boston uses a variety of metrics, including third-party evaluations and pre- and post-program surveys.

Download our 2014-2015 Annual Report for more information about our impact.


See what students and parents say about our programs:

93% of students agree that 826 Boston has helped them become more comfortable in school.

85% of parents report that their child is getting better grades with the help of 826 Boston.

Since working with 826 Boston, my daughter has become motivated and excited to write. I’m in awe of how 826 Boston staff and volunteers achieve such greatness from these scholars.”

-Josette W., after-school parent

Jessica Drench
Executive Director
Jessica joined the 826 Boston team in the role of program director in 2011 and become Executive Director in 2016. A Boston native, she earned a B.A. in English from Brown and an M.A. in Teaching English from Columbia Teachers College, and is a certified English and Special Education teacher. Jessica began her career teaching high school ELA at the McKinley School, a program for at-risk youth in the Boston Public Schools. In 2013, Jessica attended the Institute of Nonprofit Management and Executive Leadership at Boston University. She brings 10 years of non-profit leadership to her work at 826 Boston.
Kristin Barrali
Director of Advancement
Kristin has a 15-year career in fundraising for nonprofits. Most recently she served as publisher of Nonprofit Quarterly, a national nonprofit management magazine and website.
Karen Sama
Program Manager
Karen grew up in Queens, New York, and earned her BA in Religion from Colorado College. After graduating, she moved to Denver and worked directly with preschoolers with special needs in homes and Head Start classrooms.
JoJo Jacobson
In-School Program Manager
JoJo Jacobson believes in the power of words to transform worlds, and she has devoted her life thus far to empowering underserved students. After living in California, South Carolina, Northern Nevada, and Korea, JoJo moved to Boston to get her MA in English from Simmons College. In Boston, JoJo worked as a professor in Roxbury Community College for six years, teaching English and college success courses. In addition to her course load, JoJo also coordinated RCC tutoring and trained RCC tutors as success coaches for several years. JoJo’s hobbies include throwing parties and spinning fire.
Jennifer “J.J.”
Mercado Javier

Volunteer Manager
Jennifer Mercado Javier, more popularly known as J.J., is a proud Anteater, meaning she earned her B.A. in Criminology, Law, & Society from the University of California, Irvine. Although J.J. is California-bred, she fell head over heels in love with Boston after serving with City Year. There she learned the power of service and the importance of integrating civic engagement in education and youth work. She’s since lead volunteer programs for youth and young adults in various nonprofits in Boston, and also prioritizes volunteerism in her own life, giving time to start-ups who focus on empowering minority youth. In her spare time, she can usually be found behind a children’s novel or with a pad and pen in hand writing her own.
Nakia Hill
Program Coordinator
Nakia grew up less than two miles away from 826 Boston. She received her B.A. at Howard University and her Masters in Print and Multimedia Journalism at Emerson College. She has taught creative writing and journalism classes to youth in Washington, D.C. and in Boston. She is an indie music enthusiast who still gushes over the sight of her byline in major publications.
Edwin Gonzalez
Program Assistant
Edwin is a native of Boston and grew up a few blocks away from 826 Boston in Jamaica Plain. He attended the English High School, the first school that 826 Boston partnered with for their Young Author’s Book Project, and as a senior he became 826 Boston’s first Boston Youth Fund Teen Tutor. After graduating from Brandeis University with a B.A. in Sociology, Edwin interned at 826 Boston before joining its full-time staff.
Jenna Leschuk
Grants and Communications Manager
Jenna Leschuk got her foot in the door with writing as a student tutor at Dartmouth College’s Composition Center. After graduation, she used the power of words (and recruitment!) to help find and train the next generation of environmental leaders with Green Corps. She worked in communications with Public Interest GRFX and as a freelance writer and graphic designer before joining the development team at 826 Boston.
Will Marshall
Commonwealth Corps
In-School Program Coordinator
Will Marshall grew up in Cambridge and lived in three different countries by the age of twelve. He moved to New York City for college where he earned his bachelor’s degree at New York University’s Journalism Institute. He has taught adult English-language learners, written for magazines, and worked in documentary production. He is an avid traveler and moviegoer who brings his passion for storytelling, in all its forms, into the classroom and beyond.
Johnny Sadoff
Commonwealth Corps
In-School Program Coordinator
Johnny Sadoff is a DC Native. He received his BA in English and Spanish literature from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. He moved out to Boston to receive his M.Ed. from Harvard University. A certified English teacher, Johnny has taught middle and High School English in both charter and vocational schools. He is on the board of directors of The Marble Collection, the only statewide print and online magazine of the arts by students in grades 8 to 12. He has volunteered for 826 Boston for the past 4 years and is excited to join the team.
Christopher Collins
AmeriCorps VISTA Development
A native Los Angeleno, Chris came to Boston nine years ago to earn his B.A. in History & Philosophy at Boston College. After a stint in elementary school education, he directed a non-profit dedicated to the promotion of art and music in the city. Chris first fell in love with 826 Boston’s mission while volunteering as a tutor, and is excited to help the organization grow further.
Emily Navarro
AmeriCorps VISTA Out-of-School-Time Student Engagement Associate
Emily’s life began in Connecticut, but she has since explored the fields of education and publishing across the country. She taught high school English in Maine and Chicago and middle school language arts and writing in Denver. Emily earned her B.A. from Lehigh University, M.Ed. from the University of Notre Dame, and is perhaps most proud of her time spent at Middlebury College’s Bread Loaf School of English.

Daniel Johnson
Director Emeritus
Executive Director, 2007-2016
For the past two decades, Daniel has dedicated himself to grassroots education in underserved communities in Phoenix, Chicago, and Boston. A Teach for America alumnus, he has worked extensively in developing arts programming for children and teens, inmates, second language learners, and the developmentally disabled in a wide variety of settings, including public schools, prisons, and hospitals. Daniel’s poetry has been published widely and featured on PBS News Hour and National Public Radio. His first collection, How to Catch a Falling Knife, was published by Alice James Books in 2010.

Board Officers
Kevin Whalen, 826 Boston Board President, Morgan Stanley
Donna Cowan, 826 Boston Board Vice President, Retired Bolt, Beranek, and Newman
Mimi Curran, 826 Boston Board Treasurer, Retired WGBH
Jeff Mayersohn, 826 Boston Board Clerk, Harvard Book Store

Additional Board Members
Andrew Cohn, retired, WilmerHale
Marc Foster, Transparency Life Sciences, LLC
Jon Fullerton, Harvard Graduate School of Education
Carol Greenwald, WGBH
Rev. Tim House, First Church Boston
Charisse Howse, Liberty Mutual Insurance
Gillian Kohli, Wellesley Books
Emily D’Amour Pardo, Harvard Book Store
Ande Zellman, Ande Zellman Innovation and Strategy

Carrie Simons, 826 Boston Legal Counsel, Ropes & Gray LLP

Kevin Feeney
Helen Jacobson

Literary Board
Steve Almond
M. T. Anderson
Richard Blanco
Christopher Castellani
Junot Díaz
Andre Dubus III
A. W. Flaherty
Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Julia Glass
Mary Gordon
Julian Houston
Jeff Kinney
Lois Lowry
David McCullough
Tom Perrotta
Heidi Pitlor
Richard Russo
Jim Shepard


826 Boston Celebrates Night of 1,000 Stories
The Boston Globe–May 7th, 2015

The Roxbury writing center for young people, 826 Boston, had its fifth annual “Night of 1,000 Stories” benefit at the Royal Sonesta in Cambridge on Tuesday. The featured speaker was writer (and former Boston resident) Luis Alberto Urrea, who was a Pulitzer finalist for his nonfiction book “The Devil’s Highway: A True Story.” VIPs included 826 cofounder Dave Eggers, and students Stevelyn Desire, Julia Teixeira, and Agnes Ugoji, who helped with the night’s presentation. Photo credit: Anne Haggerty.


826 Boston Hosts Literary Jeopardy at Porter Square Books
The Boston Globe — March 16, 2015

Porter Square Books was packed on Friday night for “Literary Jeopardy,” an event hosted by 826 Boston, the Egleston Square-based nonprofit writing center for kids. Clues that called for answers in the form of a question included “This ‘Freaks and Geeks’ costar took on the role of the Emerald City’s misunderstood leader in a 2013 prequel to the beloved 1939 film,” and “This is the name George Eliot, author of ‘Middlemarch,’ was born with.” (For the record, those answers are James Franco and Mary Ann Evans). The night’s VIPs were “Get in Trouble” author Kelly Link, of Northampton, and “Everything I Never Told You” author Celeste Ng, of Cambridge.


Gregory Maguire Stops in for Books for Breakfast
The Boston Globe — November 21, 2014

“Wicked” author Gregory Maguire was the special speaker at Thursday morning’s Books for Breakfast benefit for 826 Boston. The annual morning celebration raises money for the Roxbury writing center, which supports students 6 to 18 with tutoring and writing projects. WilmerHale hosted the event, which drew young readers such as Nicholas Allen,15, and Emily Gay, 17.


Boot Camp Gives Students Individualized Attention for College Essays
WBUR’s Learning Lab – November 18, 2014

This past, cold Saturday morning, about 100 Boston high school students trekked to Northeastern University to spend the day work-shopping their college essays as application deadlines approach for seniors.

The College Essay Boot Camp — a day organized by 826 Boston, a nonprofit organization focusing on students’ writing skills, and Northeastern — provides the unique opportunity for every interested student to partner one-on-one with a writing tutor for the day. Read More.


Lena Dunham instructs; Robert Kraft Inspires
The Boston Globe — October 4, 2014

While in Boston to promote her book, “Not That Kind of Girl,” Lena Dunham hosted a writing roundtable for six women. We’re told the session, organized by Dunham and her sister Grace and held at 826 Boston, lasted about an hour and included a few writing exercises and a loosely structured conversation about writing. Best of all, the participants will have their writing included on Dunham’s Tumblr site. Read more.


Students Take the Stage at the Strand Theatre, Thanks to 826 Boston and the A.R.T.
WBUR’s the ARTery – August 13, 2014

In a quick five week scramble that would make for excellent reality television, a group of 20 students from ages 10 to 14 write, design and act in their own play — culminating in a performance at the Strand Theatre on Friday, Aug. 15. Read More.


Photo courtesy of Gretjen Helene

Lessons in Craft: A.R.T. helps Boston students shape short plays
From Harvard Gazette – July 31, 2014

Often the lights go down on the main stage of the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) in the summertime, but not this year. The Loeb Drama Center is abuzz with “Finding Neverland” a musical based on the life of J.M. Barrie and the inspiration behind his story “Peter Pan.”

On Tuesday, the Brattle Street playhouse was humming with an eager young crowd. After making their way from Roxbury, 20 budding playwrights ages 10 to 14 spilled off a yellow school bus and into the Loeb as part of a collaboration with the A.R.T. and 826 Boston, a nonprofit that helps young students develop their writing skills. Read More.


826 Boston’s After-School Students Dispense Advice for Valentine’s Day
From Meredith Goldstein’s Boston.com “Love Letters” column – February 17, 2014

You might remember that in December, I asked Love Letters readers to submit questions that could be answered by the young people at 826 Boston, a non-profit writing and tutoring center in Roxbury. I picked two of your questions and let the kids be advice columnists for an afternoon. Today, for the holiday, I’m running their answers. They did a fantastic job in a short amount of time (and a few of them chose funny pen names). Read More.

826 Boston’s writing and tutoring center is located in the heart of Egleston Square in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood.

Behind the door of the Greater Boston Bigfoot Research Institute, past the 10-foot statue of Bigfoot and the terrarium with our beloved tarantula Edwina, you’ll find a tutoring center buzzing with activity as students work one-on-one with tutors, read in our library, or look up questions on our computers.

If you’re a parent interested in signing up a student for one of our programs, click here.

If you’re a teacher interested in bringing your class to the center for a field trip, click here.

If you’re a donor or community member interested in learning more about 826 Boston, click here.

Directions & Contact Information

Just trying to find your way?

You can find us at:
826 Boston
3035 Washington Street
Roxbury, MA 02119

Or call us at:
(617) 442-5400

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