When educator Nínive Calegari and author Dave Eggers settled on a storefront for their educational writing center 826 Valencia, they were required—due to zoning laws—to open a store in the space. They found that the interior of the former gym resembled a stripped-down ship—so they dubbed it the Pirate Supply Store. Behind this shop's whimsical stock of eye patches, glass eyes, and nautical-themed prints is the center’s real heart and soul: a writing lab filled with a reading tent, large worktables, and, of course, lots of books.
The non-profit, bilingual center draws the talents of trained, volunteer tutors, who each help students aged 6-18 hone their writing skills and develop the formidable biceps of Charles Dickens. Tutors demystify the writing process through a range of free, project-based programs, such as writing workshops, after-school tutoring, and college-readiness programs. Most courses culminate in a student-created and published book, magazine, newspaper, or film—a process that encourages students to collaborate creatively and take ownership of their learning.