Bringing students’ voices to life through technology
826 Valencia and Google team up to amplify imagination
The 826 Valencia Center in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District nearly always
elicits a double take. There aren’t many corner stores where you can buy a
message in a bottle, shop for a giant squid ink pen, or climb a two-story
indoor treehouse. The corner of Golden Gate Avenue and Leavenworth is where
students from across the city gather after school and, with a little help
from volunteer tutors, tell their stories.
“The goal of 826 Valencia is to transform a young person’s relationship to
writing,” says Lauren Hall, director of grants and evaluations for the
writing nonprofit. By sparking creativity, the organization helps “young
people see writing as a tool and a place of power.” And the surrounding
whimsy and wonder of the space is no accident. In fact, it’s essential to the
way the nonprofit approaches the power of literacy. The purpose isn’t just to
get kids writing, it’s to get them excited about it. So it’s crucial that the
environment stimulates students’ imaginations from the moment they walk in.