Once Upon School


About 826 National


826 National started with after-school tutoring as the foundation of 826 Valencia in San Francisco.

But the volunteer corps grew so quickly and broadly — within a year we had 1100 tutors, from hundreds of occupations — that we were able to dream of many other ways to work with students, schools, teachers, and parents.

The essence of the program is that it’s like school, but it’s not school.

The students come to 826 because it’s fun, it’s warm, it’s full of people who care — but who don’t HAVE to care. That is, the average students knows his teacher has to help with his schoolwork, and he knows his parents have to help. But there’s something very new and transformative about meeting a member of the community — a professional journalist, a radio disc jockey, a graduate student, an advertising copywriter, a software developer, a retired lawyer — and have that person give them 2-3 hours of undivided attention. Almost without exception, student achievement and understanding leaps when they are given this concentrated one-on-one attention. Teachers and parents love the help, and the students get to ask a hundred questions until they truly understand a concept.


Get Involved

  • 1. Look over the Ideas to the left. This will get you thinking about possibilities.
  • 2. Read the Project Stories section if you’d like to learn about projects that have already been executed.
  • 3. If an Idea inspires you, sign up and start a project with a local school.
  • 4. You will receive a confirmation email from us. After that, it’s up to you to take the next step and contact a school. Read our Guidelines on how to do this effectively.

Or create your own idea.

Start something like this in your own community and make a difference.


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