To help writers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be highlighting emergency funds available to writers. For more sources of support, read our running list of resources for writers in the time of coronavirus.
The PEN America Writers’ Emergency Fund is currently administering grants of $500 to $1,000 to writers who “demonstrate an inability to meet an acute financial need, especially one resulting from the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.” In response to the public health crisis, PEN America has streamlined its typical application process for support through the fund. Applicants will receive a response within ten days.
The grants are made to poets, fiction writers, nonfiction writers, translators, journalists, playwrights, and screenwriters. Professional writers who have a demonstrated record of publication and who are based in the United States are eligible. Qualifying professional credentials include the publication of one or more books; publication of multiple pieces in literary magazines within the last two years; full-time employment as a journalist, columnist, or critic; consistent publication on a freelance basis in a range of outlets; the authorship of a full-length play, performed by a professional theater company in a theatre seating 250 or more people; or contracted work as a writer. Other credentials may also be considered. Writers do not need to be members of PEN America in order to be eligible.
Using only the online application system, submit a statement of need, a recent tax return, information about personal finances, and contact information for three references. Writing samples are not required. Visit the website for complete guidelines and eligibility. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.
Since 1922, PEN America has worked “at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect free expression in the United States and worldwide.” Headquartered in New York City, with additional offices in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., the nonprofit works in conjunction with PEN International to advance causes including freedom of the press and artistic freedom from censorship.