My dear friends,
Nine years ago, I walked into 826michigan —- then in its earliest days. Like our office space and tutoring lab today, it was a little cluttered with homework pages, rough drafts of essays and short stories, laptop power cords, and cardboard boxes full of books. My first day on the job, a well-regarded local writer coached 14-year-olds through a workshop called Poetry of Audacity and Weirdness. Adult volunteers knelt beside each student and coaxed them into not just excellent writing, not just stories they’d never told, and much more than audacious weirdness. 826michigan volunteers inspire school-aged students to celebrate their individuality, to ask for help when they need it, and to do their very best work. It’s as true today as it was that September afternoon in the poetry workshop.
That first year, we were proud to have served 500 school-aged students — most from Ann Arbor — with tutoring and writing workshops. That’s about 15% of the 3,200+ students we’re serving now in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti, and Detroit in programs that include in-school activities, field trips, neighborhood programs, and more free writing and tutoring at our sites in Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor. In 2016, we’ll open our Detroit site and offer our full range of programs there as well.
And in the beginning, a handful of supporters helped us meet our budget needs. Now, an astonishingly large and diverse group of supporters give to us in what feels like a million important ways.
You may be one of the adults whose thoughtful help has urged on some of our students. Or perhaps your contributions help us meet the expenses to run our programs. Or maybe you’re in your twenties now and benefited from writing audacious poetry with us sometime in your adolescence. I’m inviting you to think about how you can contribute generously to 826michigan’s next decade.
Student-centered individualized attention has always and will always be at the heart of 826michigan. Like I did this morning, you can still walk in here any day of the week and overhear a heartfelt conversation about geometry homework, a giggle from behind a chapter book, or our copier faithfully churning out chapbooks of students writing.
How humbling and exhilarating to know that you believe in us — and importantly in 826michigan’s students — so much that your gifts of time, money, and more have brought us this far in our first decade. I hope you share my pride that among the many changes, your support has allowed us to keep the powerful and essential core exactly the same: helping students succeed in school and in life. Please donate now to 826michigan to bring meaningful support to thousands more students in 2016 and beyond.
Amanda Uhle, Executive Director