PEN In The Community

What is a PEN In The Community (PITC) Writing Residency?

A PEN In The Community (PITC) writing residency is a generative writing workshop that takes place in a classroom, community center, nonprofit organization, shelter, or reservation. Written work collected during the residency is published by PEN Center USA in PITC anthologies, which are windows into participant’s lives—their struggles, hopes, and experiences. PITC instructors are selected from PEN Center USA’s diverse membership to best match the needs of the community where they will teach. An interested writer may also apply to become a PITC instructor and subsequently become a PEN Center USA member. All PITC instructors must also be PEN Center USA members. 

In preparation for a PITC writing residency, PITC instructors and community leaders attend a mandatory orientation session at the PEN Center USA office. Then, working with the community leader, the PITC instructor develops a curriculum, with the goal of helping the participants complete a solid body of creative writing work. A PITC writing residency is comprised of twelve in-class writing workshops, the publication of a participant anthology, and a final public reading. Throughout the semester, the PITC program coordinator makes visits to each community center and communicates with all PITC instructors and community leaders on a weekly basis.

PITC Curriculum

PITC instructors are required to develop a tailored curriculum before the start of their residency. The curriculum is often genre-specific, meaning participants will focus on writing poetry, fiction, plays, or creative nonfiction. A typical PITC writing residency combines selected readings with classroom discussions and thematically linked writing exercises.
Participants will be expected to participate in discussions and complete in-session writing assignments. Homework and creative projects may also be assigned. Though the PITC instructor will run the workshops and provide written feedback to the participants, it is the responsibility of the community leader to ensure credit is given for completion of assignments.

Participant work is collected by the PITC instructor at the end of the residency and published by PEN Center USA in an anthology. The anthology is presented and a public reading, where copies are distributed to the participants and their friends and family.

PITC Residency Timeline

PITC instructors typically conduct workshops once a week for a period of twelve weeks. Classes last around one to two hours. Dates vary depending on the schedule of the community hosting the residency. In the case of block scheduling, workshops are adjusted accordingly.

PITC Instructor Stipend

PITC instructors are paid a stipend for each writing workshop. 

Request a PITC Residency or Apply to Teach

If you are a teacher and would like to request a PITC writing residency, please fill out the RESIDENCY REQUEST FORM and submit it to
If you are a writer and would like to apply to become a PITC writing residency instructor, please fill out the RESIDENCY APPLICATION and submit it to

PITC Program History

PEN In The Community (PITC) was developed from PEN Center USA’s long-running program, PEN In The Classroom.
Since 1995, PEN In The Classroom proudly published the written work of thousands of talented youth and adults. Other PEN In The Classroom programs have included The Literary Journal Program and The Bridge Program.

PITC Program Funding

At this time, all PITC writing residencies are paid for by PEN Center USA. Schools and community centers that host PITC writing residencies are responsible for securing a venue and providing refreshments for the final participant reading.
PEN Center USA is generously supported by the Herb Alpert Foundation, California Community Foundation, City of Los Angeles – Department of Cultural Affairs, The James Irvine Foundation, Kayne Foundation, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, National Endowment for the Arts, Rosenthal Family Foundation, Dwight Stuart Youth Fund, UCLA Extension Writers Program, and Jamie Rosenthal Wolf & David Wolf.

Creatively College Bound (CCB)

PEN Center USA is happy to announce our partnership with UrbanWord to help create new programming for Creatively College Bound (CCB), a workshop program for high school juniors and seniors interested in setting themselves apart in the college application process. Poetry, spoken word, and hip-hop are used to develop a creative foundation for the college admissions and preparatory process.

If you’re interested in receiving more information about CCB or would like to request a residency or apply to become a CCB instructor, please e-mail Michael Cirelli, Executive Director of UrbanWordNYC (

The Bridge
pen in the community