We don’t really know where to start with 826 Valencia – the literacy project founded by author Dave Eggers and teacher Nínive Calegari way back in 2002. Not to get all fangirl or anything (alright, disclaimer – total fangirl right here), the amount of goodness 826 crams into one non-profit cannot be overestimated. On a gung-ho mission to help out overstretched teachers and improve youth literacy, 826’s crack team of over 1,400 volunteers run free high school writing sessions, workshops, field trips, after-school tutoring and totally awesome, totally empowering student publishing. Delightful, hey? BUT THAT’S NOT ALL. In need of their own premises and turned down by local community venues, 826 finally found a home in a retail-zoned area of the city.
Not actually being a retailer, they did what any sensible literacy project would do in their situation – they started up a Pirate Supply storefront that went on to be so wildly successful it funds the rent on the building. Ever keen to spread their message across the States and beyond, 826 is now an umbrella organization that takes care of off-shoots including the projects behind Brooklyn’s Superhero Supply Store and Seattle’s Greenwood Space Travel Supply Company, as well as providing inspiration for global greatness including London’s Hoxton Street Monster Supplies (a front for the enigmatic Ministry of Stories). If you’re passionate about literacy, you could do worse than setting up an 826 all of your own. No retail experience necessary.