Megan Shuchman and 826michigan: Supporting Local Students Through Writing  

Meet Megan Shuchman, Executive Director of the non-profit 826michigan and dedicated supporter of youth in the Ann Arbor area. After working in arts education for nearly two decades in Chicago, Shuchman is well-versed in the transformative power of the arts and feels passionately about helping students find their place in the world through her work at 826michigan. 

Meet Megan Shuchman

A photo of a person in a graphic for 826 Michigan

Megan Shuchman has a long history of supporting students through the arts. She spent 15 years at Steppenwolf Theater Company in Chicago, IL, serving 15,000 teens, teachers and members of the community every year. Shuchman was at the helm of many initiatives that supported area youth, including the programming for the theater’s first-ever dedicated education space, The Loft, in 2021. She worked with both teens and adults through the theater and through the University of Illinois at Chicago. An artist herself, Shuchman was also a member of the collective 2nd Story, where she worked to build community through storytelling.

Shuchman’s describes her transition to 826michigan with passion, saying, “I came to work at 826michigan in fall of 2022 having been a longtime fan of and partner to a sister organization, 826 Chicago. The 826 network is a group of youth writing organizations across the country with similar missions and programs. Because I knew the power of 826 firsthand, having been to many programs over the years and having read many of the student publications at the Chicago chapter, I couldn’t wait to do my part engaging amazing students across Ann Arbor, Detroit, and Ypsilanti.” 

What is 826michigan?

A trip to the 826michigan webpage shows excited, smiling faces and the headline, “Writing a better future, one story at a time.”

The website also boasts news clips featuring students and resources for teachers, alongside many intriguing programs for students.

Two people sitting at a table.

“826michigan  is a youth writing program that inspires school-age students to write with skill and confidence, not only improving academic performance but confidence and self-expression,” Shuchman said. “We create a third space, beyond school or home, that uplifts all students, especially those from historically resilient, historically marginalized backgrounds. We’ve been doing this work for almost 20 years, having served tens of thousands of students in that time.”

Shuchman adds that one unique aspect of the program is that they professionally publish student work via books that are sold in local stores, music that is recorded by artists, and museum exhibits.

“Each opportunity allows students to see their words reflected back to them and legitimizes their skills as writers, storytellers, and art makers standing proudly in the power of their stories,” Shuchman said. 

826michigan: A vital resource in the community

Literacy programs have become increasingly important in the post-pandemic world. As Shuchman notes, English Language Arts scores have certainly been impacted despite the tremendous efforts of students and teachers.

At 826michigan, they acknowledge that test scores don’t always show a students growth, abilities, and potential, nor can they measure passion.

“Our students have so much to say and are looking for outlets to have their voices amplified,” Shuchman said. “I hope in years to come, we can continue to grow our programs so that every student can find a way to express themselves confidently through writing.” 

826michigan is a free resource for all students thanks to generous support from the 826 foundation, corporate partners, board members, and individual donors. This means that students of all age groups can register for after school programs that support their writing across a variety of genres, using their unique and powerful voices while building literacy skills and motivations.

“Financial constraints should never be a barrier to students getting the writing and literacy support they need,” Shuchman said.

Programs at 825michigan

Interested in programs that might benefit your child? You might check out the “Wee-bots” program, which provides early literacy support for young writers from ages 5-8. This program is available on Saturday mornings in Ann Arbor,  Ypsilanti and Detroit.

Older students will enjoy the after school writing labs on Mondays and Wednesdays. In addition, 826michigan are building some new partnerships to support teen writers this summer.  “All to say,” Shuchman urges, “please keep an eye out at Our programs are for our students. What they need, we provide.”

Interested in supporting 826michigan? The organization welcomes volunteers, stating that “caring adults who provide individualized support during our programs make all the difference.  Check out more information about how you can join 826 at” 

RELATED: Teaching Media Literacy to Kids

Dr. Alyssa Whitford
Dr. Alyssa Whitford
Author: Dr. Alyssa Whitford is a former K-12 teacher and current professor of education at Hope College in Holland, MI. She is passionate about literacy, social studies, and all things education. She is also a proud parent to two children of her own and loves sharing the holiday season with family.

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