Many English students, undergraduate and graduate, find fulfilling volunteer opportunities with 826LA, a regional non-profit providing reading and writing tutoring to thousands of local students aged 6 to 18.
Cal State LA English/826LA Fellowships
Through the support of Cal State LA's Center for Engagement, Service, and the Public Good, the English Department has entered into a partnership with 826LA to award fellowships to both undergraduate and graduate students in English. Fellows will receive a $750 stipend for their participation in the program.
Working in a high-energy work environment, fellows will learn about using creativity to engage youth from underserved communities, managing volunteers, developing curriculum, independent publishing and the ins-and-outs of an established education non-profit. Fellows at 826LA will work closely with staff members on long-term capacity-building projects, and witness first-hand the intersection of the literary arts and nonprofit work, while empowering underserved youth communities through expanding their expository skills. Those interested in applying for the fellowships should be enthusiastic, professional, and dedicated individuals who are self-motivated team players with a strong sense of social justice.
There are three different types of fellow positions:
- Curriculum Fellow
- Advocacy Fellow
- Publishing Fellow
The Curriculum Fellow will work closely with an 826LA staff member to research, develop and test curriculum for an 826LA program. The Advocacy Fellow will collaborate with the Volunteer Coordinator to conduct outreach efforts and build partnerships with local businesses and community-based organizations. The Publishing Fellow will work alongside an 826LA staff member on a long-term publishing project, and will participate in all aspects of the publishing cycle from project development, to editing to publication.
The fellows will meet regularly with Professor Bidhan Roy to discuss their progress in the program, and regularly reflect upon their experiences in an analytical journal. Fellows are then required to draw upon this material for their culminating activity, which puts their experiences at 826LA in a productive dialogue with their academic studies at Cal State LA. This project may take a range of forms—everything from an article for a local newspaper, to a short video posted online, to a more traditional scholarly essay—depending upon the fellows career goals and research interests. The culminating activity is an excellent opportunity for fellows to reflect upon the meta questions of their field of study: In what ways does literature have utility and in what ways does it not? What social, cultural and economic barriers prevent underserved communities from engaging with literature and how might such barriers be challenged? Should we distinguish “literary stories” from the stories of the community around us? And if so how do we make such aesthetic/ epistemological/pedagogical/political judgments?
CSULA English/826LA Fellows
About 826LA's Internships (826LA Web site)
Meet the Fellows
Alejandra, Mustafa, and Robin: 2015 CSULA English/826LA Fellows
I am excited to help 826LA develop new curriculum that promotes basic reading skills and critical literacy in youth from Echo Park and surrounding areas. Currently I am part of a workshop called Barnacle’s Bookworms, where students come to read and volunteers like myself help with difficult vocabulary and encourage a critical discussion of the text. Barnacles’ Bookworms provides me the opportunity to help students critically engage with text while sharing with them my love and passion for literature. I am also part of 826LA’s Good Times, a journalism workshop where students research a topic of interest and write a compelling article for publication in their newspaper826LA Good Times. In this workshop I share with students the exciting and at times frustrating process of writing a critical and compelling essay. Working with 826LA through the 826LA/CSULA fellowship gives me the confidence needed when working with young students.
I am thrilled to be helping encourage young authors around the Los Angeles area alongside 826LA. Currently, I am working on the Young Author’s Book Project, a program which allows high school students to become published authors. Working with the students from Mendez High School to develop their voices has been an incredible experience. I have been able to help students gain the ability and confidence to tell their stories as well as to critically examine their own lives as they relate to the 1945 landmark Mendez v. Westminster case which desegregated schools in California. I am also working on the Humanitimes Newspaper project at Garfield High School, a journalism workshop where students brainstorm and develop a research topic before writing an article which will be published in the annual student newspaper produced by the Humanitas Academy of Leadership and Law at Garfield High School. Working with the 826LA/CSULA fellowship has provided me with the opportunity to work with students throughout the entire writing, editing, and publishing process, and to share my love of writing with students, hopefully igniting within them a similar passion for the written word.
Alfred Roman Rodriguez
One of the first things that stand out to me about 826LA is the role that the space plays in the community. The program coordinators fight very hard to keep 826LA as a sort of “third space:” not quite school, and not quite home, but somewhere in between. The fact that the community of Echo Park has a unique third space like 826LA means that the learning that happens (or does not happen) in school during the day can continue with the help of tutors and mentors that serve as academic resources for the students, but more importantly, they serve as role models. As cliché as this may sound, let me explain. I grew up in Boyle Heights, a community similar in demographics and available resources as Echo Park, and I had no such space. I remember thinking about college as a place that my teachers went to, but a place that was not necessarily for me. I convinced myself that college was not in my future because no one around me made it an option. It was not until my family moved out of Boyle Heights that I met adults that expected me to go to college. I am glad to see that Boyle Heights has since changed and that there are now various non-profits in the area making sure that students in the area are supported and better equipped for their success, but I want to stress the importance of having a space like 826LA filled with adults that reinforce the unique voices and different abilities of students that otherwise would not receive such encouragement. The collaboration and creativity that 826LA fosters is not only vital for the students, but for everyone involved. That is why I am thankful for the opportunity to work with such a great organization.