PEN America Gap Year/Postgrad Development Fellowship

PEN America, a nonprofit organization working at the intersection of literature and human rights, offers a unique learning opportunity for individuals who are passionate about human rights, free speech, and creative expression, and interested in how the nonprofit sector works, specifically in the area of fundraising and development. This fellowship opportunity will require a commitment of nine months. It is ideal for a student seeking to take a “gap year” either postgrad, between studies, or pausing undergraduate or graduate school.

Our fellowship program will operate from our headquarters in New York City, and potentially our offices in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles. We hope the fellowship will offer the opportunity for in-person participation, depending on applicable health and safety considerations. Applicants needing a fully virtual arrangement are also welcome to apply and should indicate this requirement in their application. Fellows will be welcomed as members of their assigned team and participate fully in the community of PEN America, including team and staff meetings, professional development offerings, and social opportunities.

The fellowship provides an opportunity to work alongside our development team through direct involvement in daily development-related activities and long-term projects. A unique and enriched learning experience will be obtained as you interact with the team, perform research on current and potential donors, provide support with database initiatives, and assist with the preparation for events—both online and (eventually) in person.

Fellows will receive a $3,000 stipend distributed in three payments over the course of the program contingent upon successful participation.

Candidates representing diverse backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply. Additionally, candidates who would be balancing the fellowship (in place of school) along with outside employment are also encouraged to apply and should indicate this in their application for special consideration regarding schedule flexibility.

Desired Attributes:

  • Ability to clearly identify their personal goals for the program and what they hope to gain from the fellowship
  • Ability to demonstrate skills and abilities and to provide references to support this
  • Knowledge of and interest in global free expression and creative freedom issues
  • Strong research, writing, organizational, and administrative skills
  • Have a desire to gain exposure to and experience in all areas of nonprofit management and development
  •  Committed to PEN America’s mission to protect the right to free expression
  • Ability to communicate challenges and find solutions
  • Ability to work quickly, stay highly organized, and multitask in a fast-paced environment
  • Comfortable with Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) and G Suite; experience with Mailchimp and Raiser’s Edge a plus
  • Experience managing social media accounts, drafting social media content, and working with websites


  • Must be able to provide proof of authorization to study in the United States
  • Must be able to provide proof of enrollment or acceptance into an academic program of study for the academic year of 2021–22 or 2022–23, or prepare a document that explains their academic history with academic plans or postgrad aspirations (if recently graduated)
  • Must commit to 24–35 hours, and four or five days per week, within normal weekday business hours

To Apply:

Please prepare:

  • A resume or CV, one to two pages maximum
  • A cover letter indicating your interest in the fellowship, how the fellowship will support future plans or current studies/projects, and the skills you would bring to the fellowship
  • A separate short statement explaining your academic status and why a gap year is planned
  • A work sample that demonstrates your proficiency as a writer, researcher, advocate, or communicator, preferably with applicability to PEN America’s work (five pages maximum)

The above must be sent via email to [email protected] with a subject line that includes “PEN America Development Fellowship,” and your first and last name (for example, “PEN America  Development Fellowship – Jane Doe”).

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the position is filled.

PEN America does not discriminate in its selection practices, and in order to build the strongest possible team, actively seeks a diverse applicant pool.

No phone calls, please. 

About PEN America:

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect free expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.