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Partnership inks pledge to advance youth’s writing skills

The partnership between Northeastern, 826 Boston, and O’Bryant School in Roxbury provides free writing services to high school children.

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.”

O’Bryant High School seniors utilize the Writers’ Room to work on their contemporary novel literary reviews. 

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.

“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.”

– By Joe O’Connell

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