SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Imagine a classroom of students in Tulsa, Oklahoma working together to write a persuasive essay to change their bedtime, raise their allowance, or increase their candy quota. A new, pay-what-you-wish, online platform, 826 Digital (826digital.com), will make this type of engaged and creative learning possible anywhere in the world when it launches on November 1. The teacher-facing platform will enable students everywhere to experience the transformative power of writing at a price all educators can afford.
826 Digital was created by teachers for teachers; it hosts an ever-expanding collection of Common Core aligned lessons, projects, writing prompts, and student writing that bring an unconventional and engaging approach to teaching writing. All content was developed and field-tested by educators, volunteers, and students affiliated with the award-winning 826 National Network of writing and tutoring centers, including several resources from 826 co-founder and celebrated author, Dave Eggers.
826 Digital was intentionally designed to honor teachers with a tool as beautiful and intuitive as the latest consumer product coming out of Cupertino, while simultaneously meeting a need for free, kid-approved writing resources. “826’s writing programs have always been free, so we felt it was essential that 826 Digital was in keeping with that tradition. Our aim is that this platform will reach at least 1,000 educators in its first year, not only expanding the impact of our existing chapters in places like Detroit and Los Angeles, but also engaging educators in rural communities where there may never be an 826 chapter,” said Laura Brief, 826 National’s CEO.
The 826 National Network receives an overwhelming number of inquiries on a daily basis from educators interested in bringing the model into their own communities. The network currently serves 32,000 students annually, and is now leveraging technology to scale the model and reach more students faster than the “brick and mortar” model typically allows.
The platform’s pay-what-you-wish membership model is made possible in large part by the generosity of supporters, including News Corp, AT&T, The Hearst Foundations, and more.
"As a company that is home to many journalists, editors, and authors, we understand the power of the written word and the enlightenment it can bring to people everywhere," said Keisha Smith-Jeremie, News Corp Chief Human Resources Officer. "We are proud to support 826 Digital because it helps teachers spark the imaginations of young people through exciting and creative programs, and brings the joy of writing to students in ways that can last a lifetime."
826 collaborated with Chicago-based design-strategy firm Greater Good Studios and Omaha-based development firm Big Wheel Brigade to build a platform that supports the needs of new and veteran English Language Arts educators alike. The result is an intuitive and innovative site featuring adaptable, standards-aligned writing lessons and activities, with an initial focus on resources for grades 5 through 8. Writing published by students in 826’s programs is also featured prominently on the site, providing teachers with pieces like “The Sugar Trap: We Just Can’t Get Enough” and “Protest for the People of Color/Protesta para la gente de color.”
“AT&T is deeply committed to bringing innovative approaches to education,” said Anne Wintroub, 826 National board member and director of social innovation at AT&T. “826 Digital brings a proven methodology to educators where they are and inspires students with insightful, and often funny, pieces published by their peers.”
About 826 National: 826 began in 2002 at 826 Valencia St. in San Francisco, founded by acclaimed author Dave Eggers and award-winning educator Nínive Calegari. 826 was established to support overburdened K-12 teachers and provide students in under-resourced communities with opportunities to explore their creativity and improve their writing skills. The 826 Network is now comprised of a national office and seven—soon to be eight—nonprofit chapters across the United States: 826 Valencia (San Francisco), 826LA, 826 Boston, 826CHI, 826michigan (Ann Arbor/Detroit), 826NYC, 826DC, and, beginning in early 2018, 826 New Orleans. Each year, the 826 Network serves more than 1,000 teachers and 32,000 students ages 6-18 through free writing and tutoring programs. Additional information about 826 National and the 826 network is available at http://826national.org/about.