Educational Institutions

826 Boston Inc.

  • Roxbury, MA
  • www.826boston.org

Mission Statement

826 Boston is a nonprofit youth writing and tutoring center dedicated to teaching writing to underserved students ages 6 to 18 and to helping Boston Public Schools (BPS) teachers inspire their students to write. 826 Boston's innovative programs are based on the understanding that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success.

Main Programs

  1. After-School Writing and Tutoring Program
  2. In-School Writing and Publishing Program
Service Areas

Self-reported

Massachusetts

An estimated 10,000 school-aged children and teenagers live within a one-mile radius of 826 Boston's center on Washington Street. Many speak a primary language other than English, and 77% qualify for free or reduced-price school lunch. According to an 826 Boston reading assessment, 66% of incoming after-school students are ""at-risk"" readers. In order to reach these high-needs students effectively, 826 Boston focuses its recruitment in neighborhood schools and nearby low-income housing units.

ruling year

2007

Principal Officer since 2007

Self-reported

Mr. Daniel Johnson

Keywords

Self-reported

non-profit, youth, literacy, creative writing, Greater Boston Bigfoot Research Institute

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EIN

20-8065915

Contact

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Educational Services and Schools - Other (B90)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?

Overview

Self-reported by organization

The 2013-2014 academic year was one of particular programmatic and organizational growth for 826 Boston. In all, 826 Boston delivered more than 18,000 hours of one-on-one tutoring and writing help to more than 3,000 students with the help of more than 500 volunteers. The proud recipient of a 2008 ""Best of Boston"" award from the Boston Globe Magazine, 826 Boston relies on talented individuals who donate thousands of hours each year to help deliver the organization's programs. During the 2013-2014 school year, 826 Boston also:Launched a Writers' Room in partnership with Northeastern University at the John D. O'Bryant School of Mathematics and Science that served more than 1,200 students;Professionally published 45 fifth graders and 52 high school juniors in two collections of student writing through its Young Authors' Book Project;Partnered with the American Repertory Theater to deliver a Summer Theater and Writing Camp to 20 middle school students;Secured funding and solidified plans to launch a satellite after-school program in Fall 2014;Hosted 49 Storytelling and Bookmaking Field Trips with 892 elementary and middle school students;Enlisted a third-party evaluator to analyze the impact of 826 Boston's after-school program; andProvided, on average, 150 hours of one-on-one tutoring to students attending our After-School Writing and Tutoring Program. Over the 2014-2015 academic year, 826 Boston seeks to achieve the following goals:More than double the delivery of its high-impact In-School Writing and Publishing Program;Operate a second year of the Writers' Room inside the O'Bryant School, in order to provide English Language Arts support to 1,200 students;Launch a satellite After-School Writing and Tutoring Program in partnership with the Grove Hall branch of the Boston Public Library;Operate a five-week Summer Theater and Writing Camp in partnership with the American Repertory Theater for 25 middle school students.

Programs

Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1

After-School Writing and Tutoring Program

Monday through Thursday afternoons students work one-on-one with tutors to complete homework, spend time reading aloud, and embark on ambitious, long-term writing projects. Weekday sessions last 90 minutes and engage students for the entire school year. Saturday tutoring sessions, for students ages 12 to 18, draw a weekly average of 15 middle and high school students. In October 2014, 826 Boston's after-school program launched a satellite site at the Grove Hall Branch of the Boston Public Library to provide one-on-one tutoring to 250 students across both sites, an increase of 84%.

Category

Education, General/Other

Population(s) Served

Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General

Immigrants/Newcomers/Refugees

Budget

Program 2

In-School Writing and Publishing Program

826 Boston currently partners with 12 BPS schools to provide in-class writing tutoring to hundreds of students each academic year. Each teacher's request for in-class writing tutoring is unique, and 826 Boston responds by customizing curricula and sending trained volunteers into the classrooms for multi-session projects. 826 Boston's hallmark in-school projects are long-term writing assignments that culminate in professional publications. In the 2014-2015 school year, 826 Boston will conduct more than 350 in-school sessions that will serve more than 2,500 students.

Category

Education, General/Other

Population(s) Served

Children and Youth (infants - 19 years.)

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General

Immigrants/Newcomers/Refugees

Budget

Charting Impact

Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

  1. What is the organization aiming to accomplish?
    826 Boston is guided by its mission to improve the creative and expository writing skills of underserved students, ages 6 to 18, and to help teachers inspire their students to write. 826 Boston's vision is 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. Recognizing that there is compelling community need for 826 Boston's services, the organization will work to expand its programs in a high-impact, cost-effective manner in geographic areas where 826 Boston maintains a steady presence, particularly in the organization's current Roxbury neighborhood, at its facility, and in nearby Boston Public Schools. Over the next five years, 826 Boston aims to focus on dosage, quality, and continuum of service, using a ""high-touch"" approach to address the needs of its students rather than trying to serve as many students as possible.
  2. What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?
    826 Boston's programs are based on a theory of change that demonstrates how involving underserved students in project-based learning and immersing them in a culture of creativity can harness their creativity, boost their literacy skills, and heighten their academic performance. This theory of change governs 826 Boston's long-term and short-term programmatic strategies, which include: Providing a safe, third space for students to complete homework with one-on-one attention, participate in creative writing projects, and develop daily reading habits; Creating opportunities for project-based learning, notably student publications that showcase student accomplishments publicly; Fostering a culture of creativity, allowing students to take risks in a controlled environment and to identify as a writer; Developing habits of mind in its students, increasing persistence and self-discipline, improving self-esteem, and instilling a sense of accomplishment; and Encouraging a sense of belonging in the 826 Boston community by developing positive relationships with adult mentors, including tutors and staff members, and other program participants. In addition to these strategies for making a lasting impact on the lives of its students, 826 Boston's ambitious goals for expanding its programs and deepening its dosage include plans for sustainable growth by partnership. For example, in 2013 826 Boston opened a Writers' Room on-site at the John D. O'Bryant School of Mathematics and Science to deepen the impact of its In-School Writing and Publishing Program and to provide students at the STEM-focused school with regular access to arts education. In its first year, the Writers' Room served 1,200 students, or the entire student population. 826 Boston is in the process of vetting sites for additional Writers' Rooms across BPS. The organization has also expanded service of its After-School Writing and Tutoring Program by piloting a satellite location at the Grove Hall Branch of the Boston Public Library and seeks to increase its hours at that location to serve even more students in Roxbury and Dorchester. These programmatic expansions are fueled by institutional partnerships within BPS and the Boston Public Library, as well as partnerships with Northeastern University's Writing Program, which provides tutors and tutor training to the Writers' Room. 826 Boston also partners with the Boston College PULSE Program, which provides tutors for the Grove Hall after-school tutoring location. Program support needs are augmented by strong relationships with AmeriCorps VISTA and Commonwealth Corps, which provide 826 Boston with 3-4 service members annually. One of the most concrete examples of 826 Boston's strategy for engaging students in hands-on creative projects and improving their writing skills are its year-long publishing projects. Since 2007, 826 Boston's In-School Writing and Publishing Program has worked with more than 13,000 students in its center in Egleston Square and in 150 BPS classrooms in the underserved neighborhoods of Roxbury, Dorchester, and Jamaica Plain. The organization's Young Authors' Book Project has transformed hundreds of BPS students into published writers featured in a dozen original collections of writing. Its 2012 book project, A Place for Me in the World, profiled workers from across Boston and was hailed by The Boston Globe as a ""triumph of middle school education."" Its most recent collections include It's Not the Stone That Brings You Strength, myths retold by 11th grade students from the O'Bryant School, and I'm A Flame You Can't Put Out, poetry written in English and Spanish by 5th grade students from the Rafael Hernández School.
  3. What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?
    826 Boston is well positioned to accomplish its goals. In fact, almost four years into its five-year strategic plan, it has already achieved the majority of goals set during the planning process. 826 Boston has the following assets in place: 1) A supportive board with a strong vision. 826 Boston has steadily built its board of directors from 9 to 14 members. 2) A capable and talented staff with low turnover. 826 Boston's founding executive director has been with the organization for almost 8 years. Other members of its senior staff have been on board for at least 4 years; 3) A strong financial track record. 826 Boston has proved it can grow during a recession. Its budget has expanded yearly since its inception in 2007. 826 Boston's growth is steadily monitored by the capable leadership of its executive director and board; 4) Dedicated volunteers. 826 Boston maintains a service position dedicated to supporting and nurturing its volunteer base. As such, the organization has little volunteer turnover; volunteers often become strong allies and financial supporters; 5) A sense of community. 826 Boston is an active member of the Egleston Square community, and it has built relationships with neighbors and families who attend programming at its center. Staff regularly participate in Egleston Square Main Streets meetings and events. 6) A strong partnership model. 826 Boston is able to deliver stronger programming thanks to the many partners with which it works, including surrounding universities like Northeastern, partner BPS schools like the O'Bryant School, and community organizations like the Boston Public Library and the American Repertory Theater. 7) The 826 Network. 826 Boston's strength is due in large part to its membership in 826 National's award-winning network of youth writing centers, co-founded by writer Dave Eggers. With hubs in seven U.S. cities, the 826 network includes a well-developed learning community that shares research, evaluation materials, and best practices.
  4. How will they know if they are making progress?
    826 Boston uses the following metrics to track its success:The number of teachers who report improved quality of their students' writing produced in 826 Boston sessions;The number of teachers who report positive outcomes from a lower student to adult ratio in the classroom;The number of students who report improved writing grades;The number of students who report improved confidence and attitudes toward writing;The number of sessions, teachers, schools, and volunteers for all in-school activities during the 2014-2015 school year; andThe number of parents of after-school students who report improved student grades and improved attitude towards writing.To gauge its progress against these outcomes, 826 Boston employs a multi-pronged evaluation strategy involving the collection and analysis of quantitative and qualitative data. For its after-school program, 826 Boston staff members track homework completion by requiring after-school tutors to complete daily logs. Parents are also required to share student report cards with 826 Boston staff. To gauge writing improvement for both its in-school and after-school programs, 826 Boston has employed the Test of Written Language (TOWL) in the past and now maintains student writing portfolios showing growth over time. 826 Boston identifies at-risk readers using the Fountas and Pinnell benchmark reading assessment system and then uses the levels to help students choose books at the appropriate level for one-on-one reading conferences with trained tutors. Additionally, 826 Boston staff members administer pre- and post-surveys to students, parents, and teachers in order to gauge how students and parents perceive academic and social-emotional growth as a result of participating in the after-school program. An impact page illustrating additional after-school outcomes can be viewed here: http://826boston.org/impact.Additionally, 826 Boston is part of the 826 National network of youth writing and tutoring centers, which has eight chapters located across the county. 826 National employs a Director of Research and Evaluation who collects and analyzes program statistics from all chapters and provides an annual report used in future program planning. 826 Boston staff members recognize that the organization's after-school program can have the biggest impact by working consistently with students over time. For this reason, 826 Boston's after-school program is an enrollment model that encourages sustained attendance during the school year and over time. In order to track student participation, 826 Boston staff members collect enrollment and attendance data indicating which students participate in multiple programs during the course of a single school year. 826 Boston has also partnered with Lesley University and BPS while drawing on the ""Improving Teacher Quality: Professional Development for Elementary/K-8 School Leaders and First Grade Teachers for Early Literacy Impact"" curriculum. The project provides 826 staff with professional development and resources to help with after-school student assessment and intervention. While this project focused on the early elementary grades, 826 Boston will apply the resources during after-school across grade levels and adopt a series of literacy tools created personally by Irene Fountas for use by 826 Boston staff and tutors. 826 Boston has participated in two third-party assessments of its work. The first study, I Want You To Have This: An Evaluation of 826 Boston's Young Authors' Book Project in Partnership with Boston International High School examined the impact of 826 Boston's Young Author's Book Project. A second study completed in 2014 examined 826 Boston's after-school program. Data from these two assessments has been fuel for discussion at the national level of 826 executive directors and program directors and has lead directly to programmatic adjustments in the Boston chapter.
  5. What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
    826 Boston is currently in the fourth year of its five-year strategic plan, which calls for the organization to expand its most transformative programs while growing sustainably. In line with its strategic plan, 826 Boston is working to achieve the following strategic objectives by 2016: 1. Double the number of annual program hours offered, from 16,000 to more than 32,000 hours; 2. Open a satellite After-School Writing and Tutoring Program in partnership with a BPS school or community-based organization to double the number of students served; 3. Expand the organization's In-School Writing and Publishing Program four-fold and open a Writers' Room on-site in a partner school; 4. Grow the organization's executive board of directors from 9 to 18 members; and 5. Boost revenues from $491,025 to more than $1,000,000 in order to support expanded programming and to build organizational capacity. 826 Boston has successfully accomplished key strategic goals, including growing the organization's revenues by more than 20% year over year; expanding the organization's board of directors to 14 members; and adding key new staff members to spearhead development and communications, as well as to manage new programs. This year, 826 Boston will operate its satellite After-School Writing and Tutoring Program at the Grove Hall Branch of the Boston Public Library (BPL), in order to serve an additional 150 students, including those from its 330-student waitlist. The organization must now turn its attention to charting the course for its next five years and has begun the process of forming a board/staff strategic planning committee and soliciting proposals from prospective consultants. It will convene the full board and staff in February 2015 to kick off its next planning phase. In its current strategic plan, 826 Boston has focused on strengthening and increasing programs that are ""working,"" and scaling back those programs that were less successful. For example, 826 Boston organized a lively and creative Summer Science Camp until 2013. That year, it determined that Science Camp was too taxing on staff members and didn't further 826 Boston's goal of building a community of engaged writers. Therefore, 826 Boston partnered with the American Repertory Theater to produce a five-week Summer Theater and Writing Camp. Now in its third year, the camp and the partnership have been incredibly successful, drawing 25 middle and high-school students and garnering support from Robert K. Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots. Utilizing the expertise of staff and our community partner has been critical to the program's success.
Service Areas

Self-reported

Massachusetts

An estimated 10,000 school-aged children and teenagers live within a one-mile radius of 826 Boston's center on Washington Street. Many speak a primary language other than English, and 77% qualify for free or reduced-price school lunch. According to an 826 Boston reading assessment, 66% of incoming after-school students are ""at-risk"" readers. In order to reach these high-needs students effectively, 826 Boston focuses its recruitment in neighborhood schools and nearby low-income housing units.

Funding Needs

Volunteers: Increasing 826 Boston's program delivery requires expanding its highly trained volunteer corps. While not a direct cost, volunteer recruitment requires staff time to pursue relationships that will result in sustainable, long-term partnerships.Graphic Design services: From book design to print needs for events and fundraising materials, 826 Boston maintains a steady need for high-quality print and web-ready design materials. The true cost of this need totals more than $50,000. Program support: Throughout the 2015 and 2016 fiscal years, 826 Boston will expand its after-school and in-school services. 826 Boston's after-school budget will increase to $270,000 over the next two years, and its in-school programs are budgeted at $200,000.Staffing: In addition to its full-time staff of eight, 826 Boston relies on AmeriCorps and Commonwealth Corps to provide additional program and fundraising support. Over the next two years, 826 Boston will expand two positions filled by service members and hire 2 new full-time staff members, representing a cost of approximately $65,000. Strategic planning: 826 Boston is in year three of its five-year strategic plan. The cost of developing a strategic plan for the next five-year cycle of the organization's growth is $50,000.

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Financials

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826 BOSTON INC
Fiscal year: Jan 01-Dec 31

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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

826 Boston Inc.

Leadership

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Principal Officer

Mr. Daniel Johnson

BIO

For more than 15 years, 826 Boston Founding Executive Director Daniel Johnson has dedicated himself to grassroots education in under-served communities. He has worked extensively in arts programming and has developed creative writing curricula in English and Spanish for children and teens, inmates, second language learners, and the developmentally disabled in a wide variety of settings including public schools, prisons, and hospitals. In addition to working as an educator, he has also served as arts coordinator for the Association House, one of Chicago's largest social service agencies and settlement homes. Daniel most recently worked for the Snow City Arts Foundation where he created and curated ""Saving Ourselves,"" an international photography exhibition that features photographs taken by pediatric patients from Chicago, Italy, Pakistan, Australia, Ghana, and the Phillipines. Daniel's poetry appeared in The Best American Poetry 2007, and his first book, How to Catch a Falling Knife, was published by Alice James Books in the spring of 2010.

Governance

BOARD CHAIR

Mr. Kevin Whalen

Morgan Stanley

Term: June 2010 -

BOARD LEADERSHIP PRACTICES

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BOARD ORIENTATION & EDUCATION

Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?


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CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?


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ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?


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BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?


RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?