826LA’s in-school programs have taken us far and wide this year, from the beach to the communities of Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles. No matter where we’ve sent our tutors (the Furniture District south of Downtown Los Angeles for personal statements, Hollywood for an exchange of letters, El Segundo for career road maps, or Chatsworth for a Getty-Los Angeles Education Partnership collaboration), public elementary, middle, and high school teaches have benefited from the special 826LA brand of one-to-one attention, free of charge.
We haven’t just inspired young writers to write, though. We’ve inspired them to dream, and to do so ambitiously. On Tuesday, some of the best dreams we’ve been able to assist in being born are unveiled when the Libros Schmibros lending library/used bookstore for Boyle Heights plays host to the authors of Like a Shadow Blocking My Light: Hopes for a Better Boyle Heights and their free community release party.
Like a Shadow Blocking My Light, a full collection of never-before-published writing, comes directly from the pens of sophomore writers at the Theodore Roosevelt High School School of Communications, New Media and Technology. Over the spring, each of the participating students from Gene Dean or Jorge Lopez’s classes got to toy with questions like this one: What needs to change in order to generate more justice and equity in Boyle Heights? Slowly but surely, the help of 826LA in-school tutors ensured that each student’s ideas reach a well-organized, eloquent form suitable for publication. 826LA’s design staff picked up the task of making the Roosevelt students’ writing into a chapbook that emphasized both struggle and visions of hope, and the result is (to say the least) stunning.
The Roosevelt teachers who worked with 826LA note, “This project helped develop a more confident, young intellectual who used his reflective knowledge and voice to advocate for change in Boyle Heights. In the beginning of the project, some students struggled to write about their personal obstacles, but by the end they were presenting solutions to an audience of parents, students and educators. We believe that through reflection and the written word, students will begin to read the world, become empowered, and hope to nurture the spirit of change.” And we can’t think of a better place to kick off the next stage of that journey than Boyle Heights’ own Libros Schmibros (a cultural establishment which puts a unique spin on Boyle Heights’ history of change, and which recently moved to a new home at Mariachi Plaza), a creation of former National Endowment for the Arts head David Kipen.
Guests at the afternoon reading from 5:30 to 7:30 can expect to hear great ideas, great writing, and great signs that the future of a Los Angeles neighborhood like Boyle Heights is rapidly maturing in the talents of its students, who get experiences like 826LA project support as often as we can possibly support their teachers. All donations made at the event will go to the free activities for schools and families that further our mission, of course, and you can RSVP through the Roosevelt page right here.