Partnership inks pledge to advance youth’s writing skills

Northeastern’s Writing Program has joined forces with the local nonprofit 826 Boston to establish a writing center at the John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science that offers students everything from assistance on college essays to quiet space to pen a short story.

Dubbed the Writers’ Room, the space offers individual and group tutoring with the goal of creating a school-wide culture of writing. It is modeled after Northeastern’s Writing Center, which strives to improve the quality of students’ writing through in-person and online consulting.

“This unique three-way partnership is more than an opportunity to ‘do good,’” said Chris Gallagher, English professor and director of Northeastern’s Writing Program. “We see the Writers’ Room as an opportunity for our students to study and practice writing in a vibrant community context and to build on Northeastern’s already strong relationship with 826 Boston. Watching our own students grow as writers, thinkers, and leaders through their participation in the Writers’ Room has only strengthened the Writing Program’s commitment to Northeastern’s experiential learning model.”

The Writers’ Room opened in September and will remain at O’Bryant—a high school in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood—for at least three years. Since its launch, some 550 students have already used the space for help on hundreds of assignments ranging from class assignments to college essays, which many students must complete in the coming weeks.

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“It has been great to see the response from students,” said Christine Meade, AMD’05, the in-school program manager for 826 Boston, an organization dedicated to supporting youth with their writing skills and inspiring them to write. “I think they appreciate getting an extra set of eyes on their work. It’s also nice when the students come by to let you know how they did.”

Many of the tutors are Northeastern students, who are still familiar with the college application process. “They remember all the advice they received, which they can now pass on,” Meade said.

Rose Caplan, S’17, learned about the Writers’ Room through Northeastern’s Civic Engagement Program and started volunteering shortly thereafter. At first she worried about tutoring students close to her age, but she quickly realized the benefits of being able to relate to the students.

“It’s nice to give advice that can help them get into a good school. That’s really rewarding,” she said.

O’Bryant senior Missana Alemu started going to the Writers’ Room in October when she needed help on a college essay. “It’s convenient for us, and that’s the main reason I like it,” Alemu said of the room’s location. “[Northeastern] came at a perfect time. You do always need someone else to look at your work.”