Spit Fire Release Celebration

826DC had a fabulous time at the 2018 Young Authors’ Book Project (YABP) release party, the first of our three-date book tour. Our gracious hosts at the new Wharf location of Politics & Prose welcomed students from the SEED School of Washington and their guests for a night of social justice poetry. The young authors each read two poems from their newly-released book, Spit Fire, and signed books after the showcase. 

This is the eighth year that 826DC has helped students produce a professional-grade publication through the YABP program. Each year, YABP connects students from one DC school with writing mentors to draft, edit, design, and produce an anthology of student writing. This year, students in Topher Kandik’s class at SEED chose social justice poems as the anthology’s theme, and included work that touched on racial justice, gender equality, and the power of being a student.

The poets were proud to present their beautiful work and we want to thank all the staff, mentors, volunteers, and family members who came out to support these young writers. You can buy a copy of Spit Fire here, and you can still join us for our two other events in our Spit Fire book tour:

                                         June 6, 7-9 PM at Petworth Citizen (829 Upshur St NW)

                                        June 14, 5:30-7 PM at Busboys & Poets (2021 14th St NW)

Each year, 826DC helps over 3,000 DC children discover their talents and love for reading and writing. You can help amplify these necessary voices by continuing to support our organization here.

We can’t wait to share this important collection with our 826DC family who made it all possible. Thank you for your continued support!



Update: We are inching closer to our goal of $20,000 at the end of June! 826DC thanks you for all of your support — but we still need your help to continue supporting student voices in the city. Donate today!


May Volunteer of the Month: Alex Turley

This month we celebrate the many contributions and impending graduation of one of our most dedicated writing mentors. Not only has Alex been an outstanding volunteer, she’s also become a valued advocate of our programs, helping us recruit and retain volunteer support from GW community. We sat down with Alex Turley to hear more about her involvement over the past four years, and what she’s looking forward to now.

How did you first hear about 826DC? What motivated you to get involved?
“During my freshman year at the George Washington University, I joined a program called GW SMARTDC, which connects GW students with non-profit organizations that focus on education and tutoring here in Washington, D.C. I was drawn to the program because I wanted a way to learn more about D.C. and to begin to build a home for myself here. As soon as I learned about all of the amazing programs that 826DC offers, I was hooked! I love that 826DC is a place that students can learn and be as creative and quirky as they want to be! Since I joined 826DC as a volunteer four years ago, I’ve volunteered with After-School Writing Lab, field trips, off-site programs, Newspaper Club, Saturday workshops, and Teen Writing Lab.”

Favorite moment working with an 826DC student. 
“It’s difficult to pick a single favorite moment from my years of volunteering at 826DC. I think that the best part about spending so much time at 826DC is that it has allowed me to build strong relationships with the students who consistently come to site for programs like After-School Writing Lab. I’ve been able to watch these students grow up and help them develop a love for learning, reading, and writing over the years. The best moments are those when I can really connect with the student I’m working with and help them feel excited about their homework or other projects! I love doing silly activities with the students to help motivate them, like doing 25 jumping jacks or practicing their favorite dance move after we accomplish a certain amount of homework.”

What’s one unusual thing on your desk right now?
“On my desk at work, I have a beautiful woven coaster that I bought while studying abroad in Amman, Jordan during the fall of 2016. I lived in Jordan for about four months and was able to practice my Arabic and immerse myself in the Middle East while traveling around the region. I keep the coaster on my desk as a reminder of how amazing my time in Jordan was. The only downside to studying abroad during college was that I didn’t get to volunteer at 826DC during the fall of that year!”

What are you most looking forward to in this moment?
“In a little less than a week, I graduate from the George Washington University. I’ll still be in D.C. for the foreseeable future and plan to continue volunteering at 826DC as often as possible! I’m excited to start this new chapter in my life because I’ll have more time to read for fun! I’m also very excited to have more time to sleep, eat well-balanced meals, and do all of the other self-care activities that tend to fall by the wayside in college.”

Any advice for folks who are considering volunteering?
“Nowadays, it’s easy to find volunteer opportunities but it’s harder to find something that you’ll want to stick with consistently. My advice to anyone considering volunteering is to find something that you’re passionate about (that also works with your schedule!). If you can find an activity that you love, volunteering won’t feel like work- it’ll just be fun! I love supporting young students with their schoolwork as well as promoting their ability to express themselves through their writing, so 826DC is the perfect place for me to volunteer. Whether you’re interested in working with first graders or high school students on projects that range from poetry to science, 826DC has a program that can fit your interest!”

Community Partner Spotlight: Mt. Pleasant Library

With summer reading season just around the corner, we’re excited to celebrate a community partner that’s been near and dear to our mission for quite some time: The Mt. Pleasant Library.

This month, 826DC joins Mt. Pleasant Library and DCPL for a responsive letter writing project in connection with their People’s University project to commemorate the 50 years of DC history since 1968. The partnership is part of the library’s larger efforts to promote engaged citizenship and raise awareness of the Civil Rights Movement of 1968 and the Poor People’s Campaign, alongside the dc1968 project.

“The dc1968 project is a digital storytelling project about Washington, DC during the entire year of 1968… The project combines digital storytelling, public memory, material culture and archives. It is open and iterative, inviting Washingtonians and others to share their stories.”

Last week in our After-School Writing Lab, students read Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” and learned more about the Poor People’s Campaign before writing letters of their own inspired by Dr. King’s words. They explored questions like “what would I do if I were unfairly imprisoned,” and “how has the Civil Rights Movement influenced me?”

Partners like DCPL and the Mt. Pleasant Library continue to enliven our programs and help connect us to the greater community. We’re grateful for their partnership in this work, and proud to serve our students alongside them.

On May 14 (1-4 PM) and May 16 (noon-3 PM), 826DC will host drop-in workshops on responsive letter writing at Mt. Pleasant Library. Then, on May 29, don’t miss students reading their original letters at 7 PM. All of these events are FREE and open to the public. Be sure to check out the full line-up of events happening this month at the library.



Spit Fire Book Tour

We’re embarking on our first ever book tour to celebrate the latest Young Authors’ Book Project! Join us for one of three FREE events to hear exclusive readings from “Spit Fire,” a powerful collection of social justice poetry by students from the SEED Public Charter School of Washington, DC. We can’t wait to share this collection with our 826DC family who made it all possible. Thank you for your support!

May 30, 4-6 PM at Politics & Prose (The Wharf) (70 District Square SW)
*Featuring student readings!*

June 6, 7-9 PM at Petworth Citizen (829 Upshur St NW)

June 14, 5:30-7 PM at Busboys & Poets (2021 14th St NW)

826DC Featured on NBC4

“826DC wants young people to love writing instead of fearing it.” –It’s true, we do! Thank you Leon Harris and NBC4 for shining a light on our work during last Friday’s edition of Harris’ Heroes. We couldn’t be more proud of our students and volunteers for showing DC viewers the kind of magic that unfolds in our space. Here’s the segment in case you missed it.