Educational Institutions

826 Boston Inc.

  • Roxbury, MA
  • www.826boston.org

Mission Statement

826 Boston is a nonprofit youth writing and publishing organization that empowers traditionally underserved students ages 6-18 to find their voices, tell their stories, and gain communication skills to succeed in school and in life.

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 2016

Self-reported

Ms. Jessica Drench

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 2015-2016 academic year was one of particular programmatic and organizational growth for 826 Boston. In all, 826 Boston delivered more than 19,000 hours of one-on-one tutoring and writing help to more than 3,500 students with the help of more than 600 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 2015-2016 school year, 826 Boston also:Vetted, conducted exploratory programming, and signed a memo of understanding with the Jeremiah E. Burke High School to set up the next 826 Boston Writers' Room. Professionally published 60 graduating seniors and 46 sophomores 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 Collaborative to 20 middle school students;Secured funding and solidified plans to launch a satellite after-school program in Fall 2014;Hosted 69 Storytelling and Bookmaking Field Trips with 1,122 elementary and middle school students;Provided, on average, 150 hours of one-on-one tutoring to the 274 students attending our After-School Writing and Tutoring Program. Over the 2016-2017 academic year, 826 Boston seeks to achieve the following goals:Operate two Writers' Rooms inside the Jeremiah E. Burke High School and the John D. O'Bryant School of Math and Science, reading 1,750;Vet and conduct exploratory programming in preparation for opening a third Writers' Room in a K-8 public school in Boston;Deepen the level of service in the After-School Writing and Tutoring Program, including increased family engagement, college access resources and evaluation of social-emotional learning;Operate a five-week Summer Theater and Writing Collaborative in partnership with the American Repertory Theater for 20 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 opened the second Writers' Room in September of 2016 at the Jeremiah E. Burke High School in Dorchester, and will open four more Writers' Rooms each year for the next four years. 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. 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 20,000 students in its center in Egleston Square and in BPS classrooms in underserved Boston neighborhoods. 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 They Don't See What I See, personal op-eds by 10th grade students at the O'Bryant School, and Attendance Would Be 100%: Student Proposals for High School Redesign Boston, written by graduating seniors at the Margarita Muñiz Academy.
  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 handed over the reins to Jessica Drench, a five-year veteran of the organization and its former associate director. 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 employs a full-time volunteer manager and is seeking Service Enterprise accreditation through the Massachusetts Service Alliance.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 John D. O'Bryant School of Math and Science and the Jeremiah E. Burke High 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 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 maintains student writing portfolios showing growth over time. 826 Boston identifies at-risk readers 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 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 poised to grow exponentially in the next five years, and its vision is supported by a comprehensive strategic planning process that charts its course during that time period. The organization's strategic plan—vetted by education advisors, current funders, and 826 Boston board, staff, parents, teachers, and volunteers—positions 826 Boston to expand, leading with its most transformative programs, effectively and sustainably. From 2016-2021, 826 Boston will open and operate at least five additional Writers' Rooms in partner schools, delivering targeted writing assistance to an additional 2,500 BPS students. The organization will grow its budget from $1 million to $2.5 million.
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: Over the 2017 through 2021 fiscal years, 826 Boston will expand by one additional Writers' Room per year, growing its budget to $2.5 million. Staffing: In addition to its full-time staff of nine, 826 Boston relies on AmeriCorps VISTA and Commonwealth Corps service members to provide additional program and fundraising support. Over the next five years, 826 Boston will acquire five to seven more full-time positions. In-kind donations: 826 Boston will furnish space in Boston public schools with the opening of each new Writers' Room. Past partners have donated office furniture and decor to assist this endeavor. In-kind partners have also donated office supplies, technology, food and drink, and services to the organization.

Accreditations

photos


External Reviews

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Financials

Financial information is an important part of gauging the short- and long-term health of the organization.

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

NEED MORE INFO ON THIS NONPROFIT?

Free: Gain immediate access to the following:
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  • Forms 990 for 2015, 2015 and 2014
  • Board Chair, Board Co-Chair and Board Members
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Principal Officer

Ms. Jessica Drench

BIO

Jessica joined the 826 Boston team in the role of program director in 2011 and became 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.

Governance

BOARD CHAIR

Mr. Kevin Whalen

Morgan Stanley

Term: June 2010 -

BOARD LEADERSHIP PRACTICES

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices. Self-reported by organization


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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?


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BOARD PERFORMANCE

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