Jennifer Egan with DREAMers at the Mayor's Grant event

Photo by Jamie Fitzgerald, Lehman College

On January 31, 2019, PEN America President Jennifer Egan formally accepted the Mayor’s Grant for Cultural Impact, which will fund the next series of DREAMing Out Loud workshops, from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. One of PEN America’s most dynamic programs giving life to our mission, DREAMing Out Loud provides tuition-free writing workshops for undocumented immigrants in New York City.

This program began in 2016 with CUNY and novelist Álvaro Enrigue and is expanding significantly this semester thanks to the Mayor’s Grant for Cultural Impact. The expansion includes new CUNY sites in the Bronx at Lehman College, Flushing at Queens College & Central Brooklyn at Medgar Evers College; recruitment in Chinese, African, and Eastern European communities; and strengthened professional development. It will help participants develop original writing in a supportive and safe community of their peers and provide mentorship to pursue careers in the literature and publishing industries. The program helps to build a diverse talent pipeline for these industries, and empowers DREAMers to use their voices to counter misinformation about immigrants. 

PEN America extend our deepest thanks to Mayor de Blasio, the Department of Cultural Affairs, the Mayor’s Office on Media and Entertainment, CUNY, Álvaro, the aspiring young writers in the program, and to our newest workshop leaders, authors Lisa Ko and Charlie Vazquez.

From the 2018 Workshops: DREAM to Tell Video Series

Developed as part of PEN America’s DREAMing Out Loud writing workshops, DREAM to Tell seeks to elevate the voices of young aspiring writers from New York City who are undocumented and have been marginalized due to their immigration status, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or for being perceived as “other.”

As a collaborative venture, DREAM to Tell takes an experimental approach to visual representation, as participants work actively with storytelling and film professionals to translate their stories onscreen. Watch the full video series here »