(New York, NY) — The literary and free expression group PEN America—poised to celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2022—announced today that it has received a transformative gift of $10 million from the Edwin Barbey Charitable Trust, a donor-advised fund of the Arizona Community Foundation, a major funder of PEN America’s work defending the freedom to write in the United States and globally.

Advised by Peter and Pamela Barbey and their son Matt, the Edwin Barbey Charitable Trust has previously underwritten PEN America’s global efforts on behalf of imprisoned and persecuted writers, dissidents, and cultural defenders. This new investment will allow PEN America to expand that work and establish the PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Center, a dedicated initiative that will enhance PEN America’s ability to work with governments, peer organizations, and allies on the ground in defending free expression worldwide.

“The Barbey family has been an extraordinary partner in our efforts to defend the freedom to write, and this gift will advance our ability to free and uplift writers and public intellectuals around the world who dare to speak independently, critically, and forcefully,” said PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel. “Authoritarians have long strived to silence writers, poets, artists, and free thinkers, and the PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Center will be a potent catalyst for the freedom of writers and thinkers worldwide.”

Since 2016, the Barbeys have supported the PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award, bestowed annually at the PEN America Literary Gala to a writer or group of writers currently imprisoned for their work. Of the 51 jailed writers who have received this honor, 44 have been released due in part to the pressure the prize generates. Over the course of their partnership with PEN America, the Barbeys have contributed more than a million dollars in ongoing support; Peter Barbey is also a member of the PEN America Board of Trustees.

“With writers under dire strains in authoritarian countries and facing pressures worldwide, we are determined to accelerate efforts to safeguard their freedom and protect their ability to speak out,” said Peter Barbey. “We’ve been proud to support PEN America, and as the organization heads into its second century, we hope this critical investment will create an even more powerful bulwark in defense of the freedom to write.”

PEN America has established a powerful model for change in key regions globally, and the establishing of the PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Center will allow the organization to broaden its scope, focusing on a growing number of regions where writers and public intellectuals are imperiled. The announcement comes just weeks after the Norwegian Nobel Committee recognized two journalists with the Nobel Peace Prize, a clarion call that free expression and the freedom to write undergird both democracy and peace.

In addition to its track record of securing the freedom of writers and dissidents worldwide, beginning in 2019 PEN America has published an annual Freedom to Write Index, a census enumerating writers and public intellectuals jailed worldwide. And with the Barbeys’ support, the organization has also embarked on a policy and research initiative to support and uplift local news, highlighting the role accountability journalism plays in securing free speech and democracy.

The Barbeys have a long history in the publishing sector; Peter Barbey served as president and CEO of the family’s Reading Eagle Company, which owned local newspapers, a radio station, a production company, and a printing company in eastern Pennsylvania. Peter Barbey was previously the publisher of The Village Voice.

The Arizona Community Foundation (ACF) is the largest statewide grantmaker and independent provider of college scholarships in Arizona. Since its inception in 1978, ACF and its donors have invested over $1 billion into communities across Arizona, the nation, and the globe. The foundation is comprised of thousands of funds supported by generous individuals, families, and organizations, including the Edwin Barbey Charitable Trust, an ACF donor advised fund.

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. Headquartered in New York City with offices in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., the organization counts 7,500 Members in all 50 states, as well as seven volunteer-led regional chapters. In the past year, the organization has launched new marquee research projects; kept the pressure on policymakers in Washington to defend free expression; demanded free speech protections on campuses; led the fight to protect protest rights; and has uplifted emerging, historically underrepresented voices in its work celebrating writers.