826michigan’s Strategic Plan

Earlier this year, we began an extensive (and extremely exciting!) Strategic Planning process. The timing couldn’t be better; as we look ahead to our upcoming twenty-year anniversary with our new executive director and new board members, and emerge from a global pandemic, we are primed to dream!

Through this process, we will:

  • Articulate our organization’s revitalized mission
  • Answer who we are to our community 
  • Allow for big picture dreaming, e.g., via our sister chapter 826 New Orleans asked: If an entire generation of young people had the skills to express themselves fully and a community that actively listened to them, how would an entire city be transformed?
  • Create a roadmap for the next 3-5 years so we know where we’re headed and have a ‘litmus’ test when new opportunities arise

Our future is bright, and so is our timeline overview:

Strategic Plan Updates

Want the longer story? Here ya go!

Update #1: February 2023

And so it begins! We’re approaching our 20th year of providing fun, engaging literacy programs, completely free of charge, to young people in Detroit and Washtenaw County. We’re simultaneously embarking on a new strategic plan for 826michigan . . . coincidentally alongside our celebration of almost two decades of joy, discovery, and magic. 

Help us envision our future! Join us as we honor our past! Help us create a world for the writers, poets, thinkers, creators, artists, and citizens of the present and the future.

If you’d like to be involved in our strategic planning process, please contact Executive Director Megan Shuchman. From focus groups to surveys to phone calls, we’ve got all kinds of ways for you to share your thoughts! Whatever works best for you will work great for us!

Update #2: May 2023

Goodness gracious do we have an embarrassment of riches in terms of collective wisdom and community engagement! We’ve been pouring over the inspiring roadmaps other 826 chapters have shared with us (this network is FULL of scientists, scholars, geniuses, etc.); if you’re ever feeling down-in-the-dumps, may we suggest looking at the strategic plans of creative, youth-centered organizations? (Magic! Delight! Hope! The future feels so bright!)

We’re in the midst of a flurry of research, interviews, and focus groups. It’s wonderful to hear all the very kind things our supporters have to say about our work—and it’s energizing to find out in what direction our community thinks we should steer the ship (program the robot? Point the Roomba? Sadly, there aren’t a lot of fantastic robot-related metaphors for what we’re trying to say).

Interested in being involved? Contact Executive Director Megan Shuchman.

Update #3: October 2023

This month’s update is all about 1. the story the research told us, and 2. WOW THANK YOU! 

  1. The Research Could Write a Best-selling Novel.

We recently shared the key points of our research in a community meeting via Zoom. Interested in what we found?

Watch the shareout!

  1. We Could Probably Fill a Full Encyclopedia Set with Our Gratitude.

We extend our endless gratitude to all of those who stepped up to share their thoughts and ideas with us! From the emails, phone calls, and coffees to the Zooms and focus groups: our community really showed up for us, and we sure do appreciate it!

Many thanks to our committees! Outreach & Engagement Committee: Catherine Calabro-Cavin, Kayla Chenault, Rachita Mohanta, Jim Ottaviani, Noelle Scarini, and Kati Shanks; Research Committee: Kinyel Friday, Megan Gilson, Charlotte Moore, Amelia Popowics, Shai Rao, Justin Schell, and Meg Ward; and Communications Committee: Christopher Ankney and Amy Sumerton.

Hooray for our Advisory Group—a fantastically knowledgeable group who represent all different eras of 826michigan! longtime volunteer & current board member Christopher Ankney; Program Manager Denise R. Ervin; longtime supporter & partner Cathy Fleischer, longtime partner Iman Grewal, wonderful community partner and advocate Matt Hamilton of Michigan Learning Channel, founding board president Keith Hood, current board president Maria Montoya, Volunteer & Program Coordinator Eli Sparkman, longtime staffer Amy Sumerton, and former Executive Director and wonder-woman Dr. Naimah Wade. We will forever be awed by the collective guidance from this truly amazing group of individuals.

Update #4: December 2023

Who knew strategic planning involved so many conversations . . . like, a nearly unfathomable number? (We did. We knew. We’ve done this a few times before! The conversations are one of the best parts!)

Last month, we drafted a strategic vision. We first shared it at a virtual staff meeting. Our staff surprised no one by “yes anding” board member Abby Fanelli’s suggestion that they take turns reading paragraphs as dramatically, comically, or otherwise entertainingly (read: some of our staff is very good at accents; some of our staff is not). It was a smash-hit, and the conversation that followed was thoughtful, excited, and ready.

We liked that conversation so much, we wanted to keep talking about it! Enter the co-founders of 826, educator Ninive Caligari and writer Dave Eggers, who joined us via Zoom to share their enthusiasm alongside former Executive Director Amanda Uhle. We also engaged current staff and board as well as several constituents key to 826michigan’s history, including some veteran staffers without whom there would be no 826michigan!

Aren’t you interested to read it yourself?? Consider this a lesson in narrative tension, the ol’ standby cliffhanger . . . 

More to come! We’ll have a draft of our inspiring new strategic vision to show you very soon!

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