U.S. Writers Aid Initiative

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PEN America is an organization of writers and their allies, and that solidarity is never more important than during a global crisis such as we face in the coronavirus pandemic. We recognize that there are writers who no longer have access to any of the ways in which they have supported themselves, and that this has happened very suddenly and will last for a period none of us can predict. PEN America’s U.S. Writers Aid Initiative offers grants for writers facing acute financial need, part of the PEN America Writers Emergency Fund.

Applications are currently closed but will reopen later this summer.

To be eligible, applicants must be based in the United States, be a professional writer, and be able to demonstrate that this one-time grant will be meaningful in helping them to address an emergency situation. The fund is limited, and not every application can be supported.

The U.S. Writers Aid Initiative, part of the PEN America Writers Emergency Fund, is intended to assist fiction and non-fiction authors, poets, playwrights, screenwriters, translators, and journalists. The following guidelines are used in evaluating professional credentials:

  • Publication of one or more books.
  • Multiple essays, short stories, or poems in literary anthologies or literary journals (either online or in print) in the last two years.
  • A full-length play, performed in a theater of more than 250 seats by a professional theater company. Productions in academic settings qualify if not a student at the time of the production.
  • Production of a motion picture project or a segment of television.
  • Employment as a full-time professional journalist, columnist, or critic or a record of consistent publication on a freelance basis in a range of outlets during the last two years.
  • Contracted forthcoming books, essays, short stories, poems, or articles for which the name of the publisher can be provided.
  • Other qualifications that support the applicant’s professional identity as a writer.

Writers do not have to be Members of PEN America to receive a grant, but all recipients of emergency funding will be given a complimentary one-year membership to PEN America.

PEN America’s U.S. Writers Aid Initiative, part of the PEN America Writers Emergency Fund, is made possible by generous support from the Lannan Foundation, The Haven Foundation, PEN America Members, and other donors. Questions may be addressed [email protected].


Looking to help the literary community during this crisis? With your support, we can expand the fund to help more writers. Make a donation »