Prison and Justice Writing Editorial Fellow – Gap Year/Postgrad Fellowship Program 2022-23

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 areas of addressing mass incarceration through content creation, digital engagement, and editorial support. This fellowship opportunity will require a commitment of nine months and will provide a stipend of $5,000 dispersed in installments, contingent on the completion of the program. It is ideal for a student seeking to take a “gap year” either post grad, between studies, or pausing undergraduate or graduate school for the 2022-23 academic year.

The Prison and Justice Writing Editorial Fellowship program will operate from our headquarters in New York City. The fellowship will offer the opportunity for in-person participation, dependent upon 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 the Prison and Justice Writing team and participate fully in the community of PEN America, including departmental and all staff meetings, professional development offerings, and social opportunities.

This fellowship supports all aspects of PEN America’s decades-long work to encourage, honor, and find an audience for writers who are incarcerated, as well as platforming important conversations about justice in America. The Editorial Fellow will work with the Senior Manager of Editorial Projects to develop, write, and edit content for the Works of Justice blog; interview writers for and produce episodes of the Works of Justice podcast; assist in research for the redesign of the Writing for Justice Fellowship; and provide significant support for the creation and launch of the Incarcerated Writers Bureau, an online resource currently in development. An ideal candidate will be motivated to explore broader public conversations around mass incarceration and engage with the community supporting advocacy for arts, education, and the right to read and create in prisons.

Candidates with diverse backgrounds are strongly encouraged to apply, especially candidates with justice-involvement. 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.


  • 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
  • Ability to communicate challenges and find solutions
  • Ability to work quickly, stay highly organized, and multitask in a fast-paced environment
  • Demonstrated writing experience, particularly within the areas of literature and the arts, arts advocacy, the criminal justice system, and/or mass incarceration
  • Comfortable with Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) and G Suite; experience with Adobe, Canva, and other design tools a plus
  • Comfortable with or willing to learn podcast editing software such as Descript and Audacity.
  • Experience or interest in 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 2022-23 or 2023-24, 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 for 9-10 months


  • A resume or CV, one to two pages maximum
  • A cover letter indicating your interest in the fellowship (including which PEN America department interests you the most), 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, podcaster, researcher, advocate, or communicator, preferably with applicability to PEN America’s work (five pages maximum)

The above must be sent via email to with a subject line that includes “Gap Year Fellowship,” the department you are interested in, and your first and last name (for example, “Gap Year Fellowship – Prison and Justice Writing – Jane Doe”).

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the positions are filled. 

PEN America is an equal opportunity employer that does not discriminate in its hiring practices, and in order to build the strongest possible workforce, 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.