826 National is a family of seven nonprofit organizations dedicated to helping students, ages 6-18, with expository and creative writing.

Our mission is based on the understanding that great leaps in learning can happen with one-on-one attention, and that strong writing skills are fundamental to future success.

Each chapter offers drop-in tutoring, field trips, workshops, and in-schools programs — all free of charge — for children, classes, and schools with particular interests or particular needs.

I found a copy of an 826 NYC folio about 3 years ago at Bound on Tomas Morato. It was a simple little volume, about half an inch thick and printed on unbleached matte paper.

Since I found that folio, I haven’t stopped wanting to become part of 826 or something like it. Pepe posted an entry a few months ago about sponsoring a UP student but thinking about it, better education can’t necessarily run on greater subsidy or better facilities alone, but on humanizing experiences and the incalculable value of investing one’s own time in someone else’s future. You can give people opportunities to go to school by offering to pay for it, taking care of their books, etc. but what better way is there to inspire how important education is other than being there youself to share what it’s done for you and to pass on what you’ve learned.

I rarely ever check my madteaparty account because judging from the posts that land in my gmail inbox, there’s way too much bitching going on the UP message board. What’s been constant about the bitching is this kind of reverse condescension of public school students towards the so-called “elite” for having had all kinds of opportunities handed to them, thanks to their capacity to actually pay for their education. But one the other hand, good education isn’t always something you have to shell out for, it’s something you can find in books, in exposing yourself to people who inspire you, in finding something to be passionate about, but more importantly in finding encouragement to do what you’re capable of. Isn’t that, after all, what’s at the root of all those 8-hour days spent in the classroom?

So thinking about it, the common denominator here isn’t necessarily the money you spend but the time and encouragement you can afford to devote, which says so much about the exchange we make whenever we link arms and rally against tuition fee hikes and lowered state subsidies. These are problems, but there are also other, more sustainable solutions. Dave Eggers (forgive the fangirling) ends his TED talk with the words “you can shine that light [on them] one human interaction at a time”.

Anyway, I’m off to make some money now.

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