826DC Open House to the Community This Saturday

The Museum of Unnatural History

When we first heard the scuttlebutt that an an organization called 826DC would be opening up in the old Score space in the Columbia Heights Plaza, I thought it sounded cool but after visiting them yesterday afternoon – I am blown away.

I chatted briefly with Joe Callahan, Deputy Director 826 DC, Mike Scalke, Program Manager and Erin Archuleta Development and Site Director from 826 National. The DC open house is this Saturday:

“On Saturday, October 23 from 12 to 4 PM, 826DC will be throwing open our doors for our community open house. We’re located at 3233 14th St. NW.

Come explore our fantastic storefront, The Museum of Unnatural History, and hear about our workshops, field trips, in-school, and after-school tutoring programs for kids. The event is open to the public, so please: stop by. Say hi.”

Their Mission Statement explains what they do:

“826DC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6-18 with their creative and expository writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write. Our services are structured around our understanding that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success.

With this in mind we provide drop-in tutoring, field trips, after-school workshops, in-schools tutoring, help for English language learners, and assistance with student publications. All of our programs are challenging and enjoyable, and ultimately strengthen each student’s power to express ideas effectively, creatively, confidently, and in his or her individual voice.”

If you are interested in volunteering you can sign up at the open house or on their Web site (you can also donate here.)

All I’ll say is that the space is amazing (see tons of photos after the jump) and the people I met are filled with a contagious enthusiasm. And at the very least the store itself is worth checking out (from a press release):

“The newest chapter of the nationally renowned 826 writing centers – founded in San Francisco by bestselling author Dave Eggers and award-winning educator Nínive Calegari, and with eight centers across the country – officially opens its doors in Columbia Heights on Saturday. 826DC has operated workshops and provided assistance to teachers in DC Public Schools since fall 2008, reaching more than 1,000 students and publishing two books compiled from students’ writing. The opening of its own dedicated space will expand the nonprofit’s reach to thousands more District students.

To raise funds, inspire creativity, and advertise their programs to the local community, 826 centers also include a street-front retail store filled with unusual products, entertaining signage, and, of course, their books for sale. San Francisco’s Pirate Supply Store sells glass eyes and one-of-a-kind peg legs, 826NYC’s Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company offers custom-fit capes. Located on the heavily trafficked 14th Street in the hub of this vibrant neighborhood, 826DC will also house its own storefront, The Museum of Unnatural History, an homage to fictional scientists that will spark creativity and create a fun and safe atmosphere for field trips, after-school tutoring, and weekend workshops.”

Lots more photos after the jump.

The Museum of Unnatural History

The Museum of Unnatural History

The Museum of Unnatural History

Student space

Reading area with Joe Callahan, Deputy (right), Mike Scalke, Program Manager, (left)

Examples of student produced books and newspapers.

Bookcase and art leading to a doorway to nowhere fostering creativity

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