Grant #203

826 Valencia Tenderloin Center

July 25, 2016

Kids, writing, and a royal puffer fish. Work and wonder find equilibrium.

826 Valencia is home to San Francisco’s only independent pirate store AND writing center for young people. It has been described as “a place that feels part writers’ workshop, part Victorian bookbinder, and part joke shop from Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley.” One thing that’s for sure, it’s bringing the love of learning to under-resourced students in the Bay Area.

After 13 years of free writing, tutoring, and publishing programs at their flagship site in San Francisco’s Mission District, they are bringing the magic to the Tenderloin neighborhood, an area with the second-highest rate of food stamp use in the city and home to 3,000 children. Naturally, we wanted to help them.

The new location equally mixes form and function, weirdness and work. There is a royal puffer fish, a wall of 90 doors, and emporium of oddities that appeal to children and adults alike. The unique atmosphere inspires imagination and wonder while also providing a classroom for writing workshops, after-school tutoring, and summer programs.

We’re thrilled to announce that with the Awesome Without Borders and many other generous contributions, 826 Valencia’s IndieGoGo campaign exceeded its $40,000 campaign goal! This grant helps open the doors to the new space and ensures the programs continue to innovate to best serve the more than 2,000 young people that walk through its 90 doors. Most importantly, the grant will create supportive spaces for the community to learn, think, and write in San Francisco.

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After 11+ years, we’re signing off and closing applications for good. We’ve supported 571 projects with $571,000 in grant dollars. We’re so proud to have celebrated such incredible work. Please visit for more information on other AWESOME chapters! And thanks for sharing so much awesomeness with us.

Team Awesome Without Borders