An unassuming block in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood recently drew a fair amount of attention, thanks in part to the giant octopus painted on the side of the building.
It’s a small tipoff to the theme of the new space, which is the second location of 826 Valencia, a nonprofit organization that hosts tutoring programs for students ages 6 to 18 looking to sharpen their skills in creative and expository writing.
Walk into the new location, and you’ll see no ordinary layout of desks, tables and chairs. Instead, you’re surrounded by an eclectic gathering of worldly (and other-worldly) wares for sale — think nautical supplies, trinkets from ogres, sea monsters and more. Behind this imagination station of a store lies the Writing Lab, decked out with dreamy decorations like an indoor treehouse and a magical wall of doors. It was modeled after the original 826 Valencia—a tutoring center fronted by, San Francisco’s only independent pirate supply store.
“We’re excited to be joining a neighborhood with a strong network of community partners and a great need for free services,” said Bita Nazarian, Executive Director of 826 Valencia. “And we look forward to helping the students of the Tenderloin amplify their voices through writing in a beautiful space that fosters creativity.”
Founded in 2002 by Dave Eggers and Nínive Calegari here in San Francisco, 826 Valencia now has programs nationwide — from Los Angeles to Chicago to Washington D.C.
Levi Strauss & Co. has long admired 826 Valencia’s demonstration of values in action, and has been proud to support the 826 team as they’ve spent the past two years working toward opening the new Tenderloin Center.
A vibrant and meaningful part of communities across the nation, 826 Valencia serves more than 6,000 students a year, with the help of more than 1,700 volunteers. With this new Tenderloin Center, those numbers are expected to climb – write on!