PEN In The Community


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 participants’ lives—their struggles, hopes, and experiences. PITC teaching artists 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 teaching artist and subsequently become a PEN Center USA member. All PITC teaching artists must also be PEN Center USA members.

In preparation for a PITC writing residency, PITC teaching artists and community leaders attend a mandatory orientation session at the PEN Center USA office. Then, working with the community leader, the PITC teaching artist develops a PITC CURRICULUM, with the goal of helping the participants complete a solid body of creative writing work. A PITC RESIDENCY TIMELINE is composed of up to 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 teaching artists and community leaders on a weekly basis.

PITC programs are expanding to meet the needs of the community. To stay up-to-date on current projects as they develop, please Like our PEN in the Community Facebook page.

PITC Curriculum

PITC teaching artists 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 thematically linked writing exercises.

Participants will be expected to participate in discussions and complete in-session writing assignments. Though the PITC teaching artist will run the workshops and provide written feedback to the participants, the community leader will be responsible for making sure participants attend class, behave respectfully, and are able to attend the final reading.

Participant work is collected by the PITC teaching artist throughout the residency and published by PEN Center USA in an anthology. The anthology is presented and a final reading, where copies are distributed to the participants and their friends and family.

PITC Residency Timeline

PITC teaching artists typically conduct workshops once a week for a period of up to twelve weeks. Classes usually last 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 Teaching Artist Stipend

PITC teaching artists are paid a stipend for each writing workshop. Because the demand for teaching artists always exceeds our funding, any teaching artist may also opt to donate his or her stipend back to PEN in the Community, which allows us to fund another residency.

How to Request a PITC Residency or Request to Teach

All PITC Residencies for fall 2015 are currently filled.

All schools and sites for spring 2016 have tentatively been filled. We have two openings for teaching artists in spring of 2016.

If you are a teacher or community leader at a non-profit or other site and would like to be on the waiting list for spring of 2016, or request a PITC writing residency for 2016-17, please fill out a RESIDENCY REQUEST FORM.

If you are a writer and would like to apply to become a PITC writing residency teaching artist for spring of 2016, please fill out a RESIDENCY APPLICATION.

Due to high demand, we are currently exploring other ways of connecting writers to schools and communities through volunteer opportunities. If you are interested in staying up-to-date on these opportunities as they develop, please e-mail Program Manager Ellie Herman at and let us know what interests you.

PITC Guest Speaker Program

If you are a writer and would like to apply to become a PITC guest speaker for spring of 2016, please fill out a GUEST SPEAKER APPLICATION.

If you’re interested in booking a Guest Speaker, or are a PEN Center USA member who would like to be listed in our Guest Speakers’ Directory, e-mail Program Manager Ellie Herman at for more information.

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.

The Bridge
pen in the community