(New York, NY) — Today the literary and free expression organization PEN America welcomed important new resources that will allow the sustained expansion of its initiatives to support writers in dire need globally. The generous gift from philanthropist and author MacKenzie Scott will allow PEN America to ramp up programming under the mantle of the PEN America Writers Emergency Fund to widen assistance to writers facing threats to their livelihoods, safety, and ability to carry out their work. 

“The freedom to write demands freedom from want, persecution, and debilitating hardship. With this generous contribution, PEN America will escalate its longstanding commitment to assist writers in need,” said Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America. “The past year has been devastating for writers, poets, playwrights, screenwriters, and journalists, who continue to stay dedicated to their craft despite a global pandemic, a destabilized economy, and a climate of intensifying censorship and repression worldwide. MacKenzie Scott’s very generous gift will fortify PEN America’s ability to stand as a bulwark protecting writers from such threats.”

Amid the pandemic, PEN America was able to expand its direct assistance program to U.S.-based writers with the emergency contributions of several foundations and multiple individual donors. PEN America also inaugurated free workshops and virtual seminars to help writers sustain their careers and cope with a changing economic landscape in publishing. 

Meanwhile, with crackdowns against writers worldwide in places like Myanmar, Belarus, Hong Kong, Cuba, Iran, and India, PEN America ramped up not only its public advocacy against such repression but its behind-the-scenes efforts to help imperiled writers make their way to safety and have the means to sustain themselves in situations of immense pressure.

With this generous new support, PEN America will be able to sustain this vital work and, in collaboration with other donors, build out the assistance, advocacy, and other aid for writers in distress and under threat. Broadly, the new investments will allow PEN America to serve an even greater number of writers and the literary community at a crucial time.

“Our emergency fund isn’t just a lifeline for writers,” said Ayad Akhtar, President of the PEN America Board of Trustees. “It’s a message to the world that writers facing dire circumstances and silencing do not stand alone.”

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect free expression in the United States and worldwide. For nearly a century, the organization has championed the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world.