Young people write the future at 826NYC. Our programs unleash imagination, build core skills, and uplift the voices of our young authors.
Our mission is to encourage the exploration of endless possibilities through the power of writing. Undefined by circumstance, our students build the skills to boldly write their own paths forward. We support new and exciting approaches to writing and inspire student engagement. And we foster generations of creative writers and thinkers, who together will define a better future.
We write a path forward, committing to a future where diverse young people’s voices are heard, their stories are shared, and a culture of lifelong learning helps us all thrive. And we’re building it every day.
Our work is rooted in our diverse community and centers on ideals of justice and liberation. Our lives and the world are better when we have representation and contributions from every corner of NYC.
We strive to create the best versions of our writing, and the best versions of ourselves. We are comfortable with change, embrace the unknown, and adapt to new challenges.
We build the muscles of imagination to tell new and better stories every day. We believe it’s never too late to embrace new ideas and try on new forms of self-expression, and to bring joy to our work.
We build our programs around the understanding that our young people are brilliant, capable, and ambitious. We hold space for students to be their most authentic selves, from brainstorm to publication.
We are our students’ biggest fans, and we believe they deserve a spot on your bookshelf. We defy the literary gatekeepers, celebrate the diverse voices of NYC youth, and believe in the importance of their stories.
Creative writing is under-represented in schools. Educators report that they do not receive enough training in teaching writing in general, let alone creative writing. At 826NYC we believe writing is the other side of the literacy coin. Creative writing doesn’t just spark imagination, self-growth, and empowerment. It also creates engagement in reading.
We believe that writing is power. When young people can express themselves in writing, whether it is fantastical tales of talking turkeys or true stories of social injustice, they are writing the future.
Director of Education
Naomi Solomon joined the 826NYC team as Director of Education in December 2020, after several years of intermittent workshop volunteering and cape-making. Prior to her current role at 826NYC, she spent 10 years working in NYC youth development organizations that amplify youth creativity and leadership, including roles at Mouse, Girls Write Now, Global Kids, and Posse New York. Naomi holds a BA in Literature and an MA in Youth Studies, and is passionate about public education, youth leadership, good books, and Oxford commas. Email Naomi at email@example.com. — Photo by Aslan Chalom
Volunteer and Programs Manager
Volunteer and Programs Coordinator
Summer Medina joined 826NYC through AmeriCorps VISTA, and served as 826NYC’s Community Engagement Strategist for two years before transitioning to her current role as Volunteer & Programs Coordinator. She’s worked in non-profit and education over the last decade, from teaching theater at her local YMCA to teaching creative writing at Stony Brook University. She received her BA at the City University of Queens College in English and Media Studies in 2016, where she also co-founded a non-profit theater group, Lion’s Hope Productions, which raised money for local charities from their performances. She recently earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Stony Brook University. She is currently working on two novels. Email Summer at firstname.lastname@example.org. — Photo by Aslan Chalom.
Amani joined the team at 826NYC as the Program Coordinators in August 2022. After relocating from South Florida in 2017, she has been working for the non-profit CAMBA for the past 7 years. Most recently, she was the Internship Developer for the Learning to Work Program at Brooklyn Bridge Academy High School. She holds a BA in English from Florida International University. With a love of drawing and art design, she plans to go back to school for graphic design and hopefully step into animation. In her free time you can find her diving into anything arts and crafts related, or demolishing the stage with her Karaoke skills. Email Amani at email@example.com.
Joshua Mandelbaum, Executive Director, joined 826NYC in July 2013. He has over 20 years of nonprofit experience, including serving as Advertising Director of Poets & Writers and Executive Director of Words without Borders. In addition, Joshua served as editor and publisher of the literary magazine Ballyhoo Stories. E-mail Joshua at firstname.lastname@example.org. Photo by Aslan Chalom.
Development and Communications Manager
Janna joined 826NYC as Development and Communications Manager in September 2021. She’s worked in fundraising for nonprofit organizations serving low-income communities in NYC for over eight years. In her free time, you might find her curled up with a good book or shooting a game of pool. E-mail Janna at email@example.com. Photo by Aslan Chalom.
Store and Operations Manager
Chris joined 826NYC as Store Manager in 2016, after a decade of volunteering in the store, in the education programs, and in the capacity of someone who was willing to blow up 200 balloons or get hit in the head with a steel chair for a student’s film. When he is not managing BSSCo. he tutors, writes, and strives to straddle the fine line between curating and hoarding regarding a personal library. Those are his actual glasses. Photo by Aslan Chalom.
Enrico Denard is an energetic student studying journalism and communications at CUNY Brooklyn College. Enrico is a very curious person and he asks tons of questions. He is passionate about news and information, and wants to become a trustworthy source in mass media someday. For now, his accomplishments include— restricting to one cup of joe a day and understanding when to end a conversation.
Brendan (aka face) is an 826NYC alum, Brooklyn born and raised, who found his way to our after school tutoring programs in 2004. His friends have described him as the “personality hire.” When the time allows for it, he studies political science at NYIT. You can usually find him in Sunset Park, doing something silly, or in the store slicing cardstock.
Stella Raffle-Wax is a Brooklyn native who, after growing up going to the Superhero Supply Store and volunteering with 826NYC over the 2020 school year, has joined the 826NYC staff as a Store Associate. She holds a BA in Politics & Human Rights from Marymount Manhattan College, and has previously worked in Youth Development as a staff member at URJ Crane Lake Camp. She’s eaten the Ben & Jerry’s Vermonster twice, and in her spare time, you’ll find her tending to her farm in Stardew Valley, or adventuring as a gnome bard in her Dungeons & Dragons campaign.
Kwesi Jamiah Baird (J’miah) is a Brooklyn born and raised spoken word poet-actor-artist. He graduated from Brooklyn College with a BFA in Acting. J’miah has performed in theatrical productions as well as open mics. He loves anime and his favorite color is turquoise.
María Alejandra Barrios is a Pushcart-nominated writer born in Barranquilla, Colombia. She has an MA in Creative Writing from The University of Manchester and currently lives in Brooklyn. Her stories have been published in places such as Hobart Pulp, Reservoir Journal, Cosmonauts Avenue, Jellyfish Review, Lost Balloon, Shenandoah Literary, Vol.1 Brooklyn, El Malpensante, Moon City Review, Fractured Lit, and SmokeLong Quarterly. Her work is forthcoming in Pidgeonholes and The Offing. She was the 2020 SmokeLong Flash Fiction Fellow and her work has been supported by organizations such as Vermont Studio Center, Caldera Arts Center, and the New Orleans Writing Residency.
Amanda Dettmann is a poet, teacher, and performer from Maine who’s taught writing to students all over the world, including in Italy, Nicaragua, and New York. Her work can be found in her poetry book Untranslatable Honeyed Bruises as well as The Emerson Review, The Amistad, South Florida Poetry Journal, The Oakland Review, and The National Poetry Quarterly, among others. She is currently crossing off her bookstore bucket list and calling Brooklyn her second home of crazy stories and sprained subway ankles.
Amy Dupcak is a writer, editor, tutor, and longtime writing instructor who loves working with kids and teens. She’s the author of the short story collection Dust and co-editor of the anthology Words After Dark. Her writing has also been published in Entropy, Phoebe, Sonora Review, Hypertext, Pangyrus, District Lit, Passengers, and other journals. She earned her MFA in Fiction from The New School and studied fiction and poetry during undergrad at Sarah Lawrence. Aside from reading and writing, she loves playing chess, drinking tea, making playlists, and taking photos of street art on long, aimless walks.
Daniel Goulden is a writer, teacher, and climate organizer living in Brooklyn NY. They love biking, cooking, baking bread, brewing kombucha and telling absolutely terrible jokes. They’re working on a novel based on the life of Zeppo Marx and can’t wait for you to read it!
Varud Gupta is the award-winning author of the graphic novel Chhotu: A Tale of Love and Partition (Comic Con India “Best Writer”) and the travelogue Bhagwaan Ke Pakwaan: Food of the Gods (Gourmand award for “Peace”). His words also frequently appear in National Geographic and Mint Lounge. His career as a writer began after quitting a short-lived career as a management consultant to travel and eat his way across the globe. When not writing, he is usually experimenting in the kitchen, collecting Instant Noodles, or playing Dungeons & Dragons. He received his bachelors in Finance from New York University and is a Visiting Professor at the Indian Institute of Art and Design.
Nicholas C. Martinez is an adjunct lecturer of Journalism and English at the City University of New York’s Borough of Manhattan Community College. He is also an alumni of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism (now known as the Craig Newmark School of Journalism) and CUNY’s Brooklyn College, where he received his Masters in Journalism and a double Bachelor’s in English and Education. His writing has been published in The New York Times, Local Blog, amNY and The New York Daily News. Nicholas has been a journalism professor at Fordham University and Baruch College. As a journalist, he worked as a news production associate at NBC News, as a social media coordinator for the Adidas Grand Prix, produced local news STEM-focused news stories for NYC Department of Education, served as a videographer for the American Red Cross, and produced stories across digital platforms for various news organizations including Computer Shopper, Brooklyn Based and LaughSpin. In his free time, Nicholas is an avid reader, a creative and nonfiction writer, a hobbyist musician, a video gamer, and a Dungeons and Dragons player and game master.