826CHI is a non‐profit tutoring and writing center 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. The belief in self‐expression, collaboration, and the power of the imagination are evident across all of our programs. These values are harnessed by creating a safe and inclusive space where ideas are respected and young minds are encouraged. 826CHI's programs empower each student to express ideas effectively, creatively, confidently, and in his or her individual voice.

Kids laughing
A student reading.
Staff Example 1
Dan Kuruna President, Board of Directors

Friends, Affiliates, and Supporters,

Going forward, we see our organization developing a solid foothold in our community, and now more than ever we strategically connect each move we make to the 826CHI mission. That work and wisdom serve as the guide we use while students explore the possibilities and opportunities their writing reveals.

We are growing up—and growing into our vision of serving more of Chicago’s students.

With our funding, programming, staff, and volunteers in place, we will be ready for the inspired student authors of 2014‐15. In one year, we will begin celebrating 826CHI’s tenth anniversary. As we look ahead and ask ourselves, “What’s next?” we see a future of more students exploring the wonder and personal empowerment that comes from writing and creative self‐expression.

Thanks very much for your interest and your role in making this fun, lively operation an important and inspirational part of so many lives.

If you’ve spent any amount of time at 826CHI’s writing and tutoring facility in Wicker Park, you’ve been witness to the process: we make sure that the adventure of learning is fun and lively while we help students harness their own imaginative power through words.

Sharing this recap of the past fiscal year with you thus presents challenges if the expectation is to match our students’ creativity and charm with our words. Running 826CHI is, after all, serious business.


Dan's Kuruna's signature.

Dan Kuruna

President, Board of Directors




Students Served


Hours of Programming




In‐house Publications

2 Professional Publications
The 826CHI Compendium Volume IV Book Cover
The Compendium Vol. 4
836 CHI Even a Lion Can Get Lost in the Jungle Cover
Even a Lion Can Get Lost in the Jungle

After-School Tutoring and Writing

A student reading.
A child hugging their parent.
Dave Eggers talks to a group of parents.

826CHI provides free, after‐school tutoring and writing instruction to Chicago Public School (CPS) students ages 6–18. On Monday through Thursday afternoons throughout the school year, students work one‐on‐one with tutors to complete their daily homework assignments and develop short stories based on weekly writing prompts. Every semester, ASTW culminates in a chapbook and publication release party where students read their stories to a room filled with family members, community allies, volunteers, and staff.

120 Total # of Sessions
85 Students Served
4 Publications
M,T,W,Th Days Tutoring Held Each Week

Student Writing

“There is a feeling that everyone gets. A really bad feeling. It’s usually a large amount of doom that you feel inside of you. Surprisingly, there is a word for that and that word is Doomungous. That’s exactly how I feel right now. I’m on my way to an evil shark’s lair, to stop his doomongous plan. A plan to steal churros from every narwhal in the ocean!”

Mateo R., Grade 7, I Will Always Love Left as Much as Right


"826 has helped me to become a better writer." 98% of students who completed the Post‐ASTW Survey agreed with this statement.
"My child is more confident about doing their schoolwork with the help of 826." 100% of parents who completed the Post‐ASTW Survey agreed with this statement

Field Trips

A group of smiling students.
A student reading.
A child at a book release.

Wednesday through Friday mornings CPS students fill 826CHI for lively, writing‐centered Field Trips. With topics ranging from theatrical storytelling to introspective memoirs, students learn the fundamentals of writing while exploring their sense of imagination. Our 826CHI Field Trips culminate with every student recieving a copy of their own story on a bound publication. This sense of authorship helps students gain greater confidence as writers.

81 Field Trips
2,588 Students Served
1,557 Publications

Student Writing

“Once upon a time, there was Grandma T‐Rex who had a purple mohawk and wore red glasses and a green dress. She really liked to eat bacon, her nails were painted pink, and she lived in a sewer on mars.”

Nettlehorst Elementary School, Grade 4, Compendium Volume IV


"I would like to partner with 826 again." 100% of teachers who completed the Post‐Field Trip Survey agreed with this statement.
"This experience has given me new ideas on how to approach writing in the classroom." 85% of teachers who completed the Post‐Field Trip Survey agreed with this statement.

In‐School Projects

A student reading to their class.
A group of girls holding their books.
A group of smiling students.

For In‐School Projects, 826CHI volunteers go into CPS classrooms and assist teachers with writing‐based projects. In‐School Projects give students the opportunity to work closely with a volunteer to develop writing skills while still completing their schoolwork. Short‐term and long‐term projects range from college entrance essays to our annual Young Authors’ Book Project (YABP). Even a Lion Can Get Lost in the Jungle, our 2014 YABP, features narrative journalism from 7th and 8th grade students at the Harvard School of Excellence in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. To combat the media’s negative portrayal of Englewood, we asked these students to tell us about the positive forces in their community that have shaped their identities. The result is a diverse collection of heartwarming and heartbreaking stories written by some of the most marginalized voices in the city; Chicago youth.

8 Schools served
11 Publications

Student Writing

“This is the story of graduated gang member Antonio Powell–but call him Bankroll if you see him in the streets–and remember you never heard anything from Annesti. Everybody has rough times, so Antonio doesn’t really fuss about when life gives him oranges. Instead, he thinks, “How am I supposed to make lemonade?”

Annesti W, Grade 8, Even a Lion Can Get Lost in The Jungle


The Spy Store
A student writing.
A workshop

Workshops provide students with a forum to execute projects they might not normally have the support to undertake. These tuition‐free classes are volunteer‐led and cover a variety of topics ranging from STEM to poetry in hip‐hop. No matter the subject, these workshops are designed to foster creativity and strengthen writing skills.


  • High School Writer Week
  • Middle School Writers Week
  • The Word Lab
  • Write On with Groupon
  • Pitchfork
  • Elementary School Writers Week
  • Write with Lions!
  • Science Stories
  • Story Hour
  • Writing in Code
  • Animation Station
  • My Own Private Illinois
  • Meet the Author: Lydia Kang
  • How to Cook a Wolf, Superhero Yoga
  • My New Set of Eyes
  • Mini Volcanoes Major Conflicts
  • 13 Ways of Looking at Something
  • The Art of Memoir, Trespassers will be Prosecuted
  • Nature Walk
  • Goo Corn Starch Creatures
  • Detective Fiction
  • Rock the Presses
  • College Essay Writing
  • The Committee for the Exploration of Mysteries
  • Story Problems
90 Sessions in Total
22 Publications

Student Writing

“Sorry that I pulled that seat from under you But to be honest Does it really hurt to fall on the floor”

J S. and Daniel D., Grades 8 and 6, Compendium Volume IV

826 Across the Ages

Neftali, Age 8


On any given weekday afternoon, Neftali A. enters 826CHI softly spewing stories of crime fighting ninjas on futuristic planets where roads float and frogs can speak. In other words, imagination is second nature to Neftali, who, at the burgeoning age of eight, is already approaching his two year anniversary with ASTW. What might seem like a minor feat. to most, is, in actuality, the foundation for a long‐lasting relationship with 826CHI. Neftali’s whole family is involved with ASTW; both his siblings are rolemodel students. This recurring engagement is reflected in exceptional parent and student satisfaction rates. Neftali’s definitely not shy in expressing his love for 826CHI. And with titles like “published author” and “writer of the month” in his bio, he already has advice for future students.

“If you’re stuck on something, ask your tutor for help. Just focus on the things you’re trying to do. Writing gives you energy coming from your hands.”

Quinn, Age 14


It was a Monday at ASTW and Quinn W. was experiencing her usual bout of writer’s block. Frustrated and ready to check out, her tutor suggested she write about love. The rest is 826CHI history.

Quinn’s “Who Wants Love?” is infamous. Published in the 826CHI Compendium Vol. 3, this piece has been featured in at least four weddings and read aloud at the 2013 Library of Congress American Literacy Award ceremony. When asked how she feels about the piece, she stated proudly, “it’s legendary. I wouldn’t change anything about it.”

But the leap from writer’s block to composing a national treasure was more than just magic. Quinn notes that it was the one‐on‐one attention and continual interaction with tutors and 826CHI staff that empowered her to write.

“They always encouraged me to stay positive and do the best that I could. They taught me details. If there’s a man walking down the street–What did he look like? What was he wearing?”



Yerika R. started at 826CHI as a dedicated Youth Advisory Board member. When in ___ grade, Yerika wrote What Do You Really Want, a now iconic 826CHI poem that poignantly captures our organization’s mission and a young writer’s aspirations. Awarded a Posse Scholarship, she’s currently in her second year at Pomona College where she founded the university’s first literary magazine. Between semesters, we caught up with Yerika to talk about her time at 826CHI.

“Although I think my What Do You Really Want poem is good, I think it has so much appeal because it doesn’t call people out directly. I think I can no longer do that. I still want people to listen. I want allies to listen. I want marginalized students of color to see themselves in all creative arts.”

Yerika notes that before expressing herself through written work, speaking English at school and Spanish at home left her brain in a state of confusion. Not only did writing at 826CHI help her process ideas and events in her life, it improved her confidence. Affirmation through publication was instrumental to Yerika embracing her unique voice. Her advice to future 826CHI students? “Sharing is scary but it also connects you with others. Don’t be afraid to erase and start over."



Direct Public Support$422,161$481,042
Indirect Public Support$265-
Special Events$17,148$53,051
In Kind Donations$61,325-
Other Income—Unrestricted$18$2
Total Revenue$500,917$534,095
Program Services$394,478$433,55
General & Administrative$17,820$26,620
Total Expenses$479,040$541,346


Revene Chart


Expenses Chart


Staff Example 1
Kendra Curry‐Khanna Executive Director
Staff Example 2
Amanda Lichtenstein Director of Education
Staff Example 3
Tammy Fickel Director of Development
Staff Example 4
Tyler Stoltenberg Creative & Retail Manager
Staff Example 1
Abi Humber Communications & Program Manager
Staff Example 2
Hayley Cunningham Events & Outreach Coordinator
Staff Example 3
Sarah Kokernot Program Coordinator
Staff Example 4
Elif Karatas Volunteer Coordinator
Staff Example 1
Kortney Morrow Development Associate


  • John Conneely
  • Daniel Kuruna
  • Christine Quinn
  • Jan Zasowski
  • Bailey Vince
  • Ryan Hubbard
  • Gerald Richards
  • Hilary Hodge

Advisory Board

  • Nínive Calegari
  • Elizabeth Crane
  • Dave Eggers
  • Monica Eng
  • Jeffrey Eugenides
  • Leah Guenther
  • Aleksandar Hemon
  • Alex Kotlowitz
  • Joe Meno
  • Anne Elizabeth Moore
  • Audrey Niffenegger
  • Matt Schrecengost
  • Suhail
  • Chris Ware
  • Patricia McNair

Thank You to Our Volunteers

The time and talent our volunteers have dedicated to the imaginations and narratives of Chicago youth is more than commendable, it’s honorable. Their commitment to harnessing a safe space where students are free to explore as writers is met with the utmost respect from 826CHI staff and stakeholders. It is because of our 400+ volunteer cohort that 826CHI is able to provide one‐on‐one attention to the city’s most vulnerable learners. Thank You.

455 Active Volunteers
15,221 Dedicated Hours of Programming


“826CHI is important to me because it gives me hope for the future. I never feel so good about the world as when I’m listening to the smart, creative, funny, weird, bright students of 826CHI.” — Bryce Parsons‐Twesten, volunteer
“Volunteering at 826 is a fabulous way to make an impact on the local community in an approachable way. The programming is high‐quality but flexible and fun which makes it a great place to get involved and donate my time.” — Laura Booth, volunteer


  • Abi Humber
  • Abigail Howard
  • Andrea Ayers
  • Hanna Ahn
  • Katy Steele
  • Alison Lacey
  • Nico Dregni
  • Lainie Fromby
  • Alissa Walkner
  • Becky Baumann
  • Michael Light
  • Galen Beebe
  • Claire Gaddis
  • Katy Heubel
  • Warren Yates
  • Nell Klugman
  • Ashley Keyser
  • Nick Saigh
  • Josh Lesser
  • Sian Kresse
  • Daniel Rivera
  • Bryce Parsons‐Twesten
  • Abby Ryder‐Huth
  • Meghan Hickey
  • Angela Zhang
  • Sarah Hansen
  • Danya Sherbini
  • Elizabeth Gaughan
  • Noboru Bitoy
  • Rebecca Stoner
  • Peter Jensen
  • Ethan Kenvarg
  • Hannah Callas
  • Brianna Gielow
  • Mo Kinsinger
  • Quinn Korreck
  • Rocio Pacheco
  • Emily Beaufort
  • Tara Jayakar
  • Thomas Boyle

Spy of the Month

  • Dave Miller—July 2013
  • Owen Lowery—June 2013
  • Sam Zelitc—May 2013
  • Lauren Nelso—April 2013
  • Armando Salaza—Mar 2013
  • Jordan Brow—Feb 2012
  • Sarah Erwi—January 2013
  • Rajiv Haqu—Nov/Dec 2012
  • Stewart Thie—October 2012
  • Kat Bolton—September 2012
  • Danny Resner—August 2012

Thank You to Our Donors