A Heartwarming Work of Staggering Genius

Taking a page from author Dave Eggers, a Harvard student founds the Hub’s hippest tutoring program.

For hipster literati with a strong do-gooder streak (a larger contingent than you might think), the number 826 is a big deal. It’s the San Francisco street address of 826 Valencia, a buzzy writing center and brainchild of tragicomic memoirist Dave Eggers, who’s expanded the program to six other cities—most recently ours. And when 826 Boston opens in Roxbury this month, local aspiring wordsmiths will have Harvard senior Kevin Feeney to thank.

As a Bay Area high schooler, Feeney honed his writing chops by hanging around 826 Valencia, which draws successful authors as volunteers. “To have them take your work seriously means the world to a young writer looking for legitimacy,” he says. When Feeney got to Cambridge, he pursued 826-inspired passions (studying lit, launching a humor mag) and began a two-year quest to open a center here.

It’s not just students who’ll benefit: Culture hounds will be smitten with the bookish celebs appearing at 826 fundraisers and functions. The first, at Berklee’s Performance Center on 9/26, features (of course) Eggers and some pals.