Writing is a critical skill for all students, but it’s particularly transformative for students from under-resourced schools. It’s a chance to dream up brand-new worlds and express emerging opinions—to be authors, not just observers. Yet for many elementary and middle-grade students, writing simply isn’t fun, and there aren’t many examples of writing they love. Especially when “the classics” are typically written by, as one student put it, “old dead white guys.”
Fortunately, 826 National supports a network of writing and tutoring centers nationwide that know how to inspire kids to fall in love with words. But with a model based in high-density urban centers, there were limits to how many 826 chapters they could open, and how many students they could reach. The organization came to us with a challenge: how could they scale their impact in an effective and sustainable way beyond their physical locations?
This process was one of the best professional experiences I have had in my career. In essence, GGS became embedded in our organization to learn about us, our culture and our pedagogy… Their work was at a depth I have received from very few consultants. It will be a game-changer for us.”
A critical success factor in this project was how closely we worked with our client team at 826 National. Actively engaging them in the teacher feedback sessions was an excellent way to align our visions, and designing visual components in real time allowed them to be co-creators who could easily assume ownership once the project shifted into implementation.
Based on our initial research, the organization committed to building 826digital, a web platform for educators that will accomplish the goals identified throughout our process. We created an interactive proposal that 826 National could share with funders and stakeholders, in order to build momentum for this new initiative. The pitch was successful—web development is now underway.
And hey, Dave Eggers gave us a big thumbs-up!
The new 826digital website will share student writing and connect teachers to 826 National no matter where they are. Ultimately, the goal is that more students across the country will get excited about writing, will understand the writing process, and will feel engaged in writing during parts of their school day. And maybe some of them will even go a step further—to amplify their voices and become writers, adding their own stories to the world.