Connect with Chicago Nonprofits this Summer: Guest Blog Post by Taylor Alcantar

By Ola Faleti on Tuesday, July 5, 2016

CWIP member Taylor Alcantar highlights some local nonprofits doing literacy work. Take a look and get inspired to do some volunteering!


Summer is full swing in Chicago and, as you may know, CWIP programming takes a break in a summer and will resume in the fall. We look forward to seeing you again at the Fall Kick Off! Until then, Chicago is full of opportunities to stay connected with a community that goes hand in hand with the publishing industry — the community of much needed literacy nonprofits.

One literacy nonprofit making a huge impact is the Chicago Literacy Alliance (CLA), which has become a hub for nonprofits around the city. CLA hosts Literacenter, a coworking and event space for over 90 literacy nonprofits created to foster increased collaboration between nonprofits with a common goal. One resource created from that goal is Literaseek.

Literaseek is a database that allows you to search those 90+ literacy nonprofits in the city for volunteer opportunities based on organization, location and program type. Below are just two of the many organizations listed. I hope you will also explore the many opportunities listed on Literaseek!


826Chi is a distinctive space in Wicker Park. It’s storefront, The Secret Agent Supply Co. sells books, 826 merchandise and novelty spy items, such as fake mustaches for that perfect disguise.

In the same building you will find the 826Chi tutoring center which, according to their website, “...supports students ages 6 to 18 by developing their creative and expository writing skills, as well as supporting teachers by inspiring students to write.”

Some of the services that they offer are tutoring, weekend workshops, field trips, in-school classroom assistance, summer camps, assistance to English language learners, as well as publishing workshops and opportunities for students.

How you can contribute to 826Chi:

  • Check out Essay Fiesta, a live non-fiction essay reading at The Book Cellar in Lincoln Square. Donations from the event benefit 826Chi.
  • Stop by the Wicker Park Secret Agent Supply Co. and pick up some much needed spy glasses or the latest 826Chi student publication.
  • Submit an application to become a volunteer! After an orientation, you will have access to the volunteer calendar.

Open Books Chicago

Open Book’s West Loop and Pilsen locations sell used and select new books, which support their youth programming and book grants. Their book sales and events help to cover 60% of their annual budget.

According to their website, at Open Books they, “...focus on the transformative impact of literacy through reading and writing programs, special events, store sales, team growth, donor visits, and volunteer engagement.”

Some of the services that they offer are creative writing workshops, a reading buddies program, a youth publishing academy, book grants, a bookmobile that travels to schools, and much more.

How you can contribute to Open Books Chicago:

  • Donate or buy books from their West Loop, Pilsen or Online stores. Book sales supports their programming and book grants!
  • Sign-up for an info session online and learn about upcoming volunteer opportunities, such as their summer Publishing Academy.  
  • Check out Open Book’s West Loop space at CLA’s Personal Best Writer’s Jam on July 21 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. (RSVP with Jen at


If you plan to volunteer with or already volunteer with Chicago nonprofits tweet us about it at @CWIPublishing!

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