AppLovin Cares: Supporting San Francisco’s young authors with 826 Valencia
It’s not every day that we get the opportunity to volunteer on a pirate ship. But this month, that’s just what we did. Nine AppLovin Cares volunteers visited 826 Valencia, a writing non-profit for students in San Francisco, to take part in its Storytelling and Bookmaking Field Trip program.
For writing programs at 826, students enter the writing center/pirate ship through the 826 Valencia pirate supply store, which sells seafaring necessities like Scurvy Begone to pirates (and curious landlubbers), all to benefit the organization’s programming.
In the field trips, students work together to create a totally original story to be approved—or eaten—by the grumpy, marshmallow-and-sardine-pizza-eating editor, Captain Blue. They work with volunteers in groups to come up with compelling storylines and creative protagonists and antagonists. When the class is almost finished with the story, each student gets the chance to write their very own ending. After the stories are approved by Captain Blue, the authors go home with their own printed copies of the book.
The Storytelling and Bookmaking Field Trip program is just one of many different types of programs offered at 826 Valencia. In the 2017 to 2018 school year, 826 Valencia served 8,266 students through 3,388 program hours. 87% of students, parents, and teachers surveyed said 826 programming fostered a transformed relationship to writing.
“At 826, we often describe how our mission is to ‘amplify student voices’ and, true to a writing organization, that word choice is very purposeful,” says Lila Cutter, 826 Valencia’s Volunteer Coordinator. “I love that emphasis on ‘amplification,’ because it shows how volunteers and staff are truly there to support students’ creative and unique voices—not to rewrite them or change them. It’s a powerful experience to see a student’s confidence grow with their writing skills and to get to be a part of that.”
826 has two writing centers in San Francisco with a third opening in early 2019. The organization hasn’t limited itself to San Francisco students, though. 826 Valencia is a part of the 826 National network, which includes seven other chapters across the United States, each one providing programming aimed at supporting under-resourced students with their writing skills. And, each writing center has its own whimsical themed storefront, like King Karl’s Emporium in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, the Wicker Park Secret Agent Supply Co. at 826CHI, and the Time Travel Marts at 826LA’s Echo Park and Mar Vista locations.
We are so glad to have had the opportunity to take part in such a fun and interactive volunteer opportunity. Organizations like 826 really have the ability to change any given student’s life for the better.