Reach Higher and 826 National Partner to Inspire Young People Across the Country to Write Great College Essays

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The Great College Essay Project connects high school students in underserved communities across the United States to crucial college essay support.

The Reach Higher Initiative and 826 National are thrilled to announce the launch of The Great College Essay Project, an effort running through the end of November 2019 to connect high school students in underserved communities across the United States to crucial college essay support.

The Great College Essay Project combines the existing free writing support and expertise provided by 826 National’s chapters with Reach Higher’s expertise in creating a college-going movement. Since 2002, 826’s College Essay Workshop approach has provided students from low-income communities with free individualized support from trained volunteers, who facilitate students in writing essays that are compelling and express their unique voices. Participating students can work on the essay topics of their choice or focus on Common App prompts. Whether they come with a blank page or a close-to-final draft, students can access volunteer support at any phase of the writing process.

“We started Reach Higher to help create a college-going culture and inspire underrepresented students to believe in themselves and go to college,” said Eric Waldo, Executive Director of Reach Higher and Vice President of Access and Equity at Common App. “We are thrilled to partner with 826 National to help students navigate the college application process and tell their authentic stories through their college essays.”

“Over the last 17 years, we’ve seen how a caring adult sitting side-by-side with a young writer and providing individualized feedback to their college essay can be transformative,” said 826 National Network Growth Director Doug Keller. “In partnering with Reach Higher, we’re able to bring our effective approach to new communities, helping students across the country write their way into college.”

Host cities for the workshops include Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. A full list of events can be found below.

In addition to volunteer-driven workshops across the country, 826 National and Reach Higher are also offering lesson plans for free to any teacher or school counselor looking to host an event at their school at

About Reach Higher Initiative
The Reach Higher Initiative was started by former First Lady Michelle Obama during her time at the White House to inspire every student in the United States to take charge of their future by completing their education past high school, whether at a professional training program, a community college, a four-year college or university, or in the military.

Reach Higher continues to help underrepresented students navigate the college-going process by raising awareness about helpful tools and resources; meeting students where they are by tailoring technical assistance to meet their unique needs, and building the capacity of the school counseling profession. Reach Higher now lives at the Common App, a non-profit membership organization dedicated to access, equity, and integrity in the college admission process. For additional information about Reach Higher and the Common App, visit and

About 826 National
826 is the largest youth writing network in the country. 826 was founded in 2002 by author Dave Eggers and educator Nínive Calegari. Rooted in the belief that strong writing skills are essential for academic and lifelong success, the 826 Network now serves close to 80,000 students ages 6 to 18 in under-resourced communities each year, thanks to the support of almost 5,000 volunteers. Currently, 826 has chapters in nine major U.S. cities: Boston, Chicago, Detroit/Ann Arbor, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New Orleans, New York City, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. There are an additional 50 826-inspired organizations around the world serving over 150,000 students.

Each chapter offers five core programs: After-School Tutoring, Field Trips, Workshops, Young Authors’ Book Project, and In-School programs — all free of charge — for students, classes, and schools.

826 also reaches classrooms worldwide through 826 Digital, an online platform that makes 826’s inventive writing resources to educators everywhere for free.

To learn more about how you can get involved with 826's movement for writing and creativity, please visit the 826 National website at

List of Events

October 19-20: 826LA’s Tenth Annual Great LA Personal Statement Weekend

October 25: 826 Boston’s College Essay Boot Camp: On the Road Field Trip

October 26: 826 Boston’s College Essay Boot Camp

October 26: 826 NYC’s Personal Statement Weekend

October 28: 826DC’s College Essay Workshop

October 29: 826 MSP’s Personal Statement Workshop

November 2: The 826 Dallas Project’s Personal Statement Workshop

November 2-3: 826 Valencia’s Personal Statement Weekend

November 9: Kansas City’s College Essay Writing Workshop

November 9: 826DC’s College Essay Workshop

September-October: 826 Valencia’s Personal Statement In-School Programming

October 19-November 9: 826CHI’s College Essay Support Programming

TBD: New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Riverside.

The Great College Essay Project lesson plans online at

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Emma Crisci
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