PEN in the Community (PITC) brings professional writers into underserved schools and communities in two ways: through our Writer in Residence program and through our Guest Speaker program.

The PITC Writer in Residence program is a generative writing workshop that takes place in a classroom, community center, nonprofit organization, shelter, or reservation over the course of 6 to 12 weeks. Written work collected during the residency is published by PEN America Los Angeles in PITC anthologies, which are windows into participants’ lives—their struggles, hopes, and experiences. PITC teaching artists are selected from PEN America Los Angeles’ 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 America Los Angeles member. All PITC teaching artists must also be PEN America Los Angeles members.

In preparation for a PITC Writer in Residence program, PITC teaching artists, teachers and community leaders attend a day of training at the PEN America Los Angeles office. Then, in collaboration with the teacher or 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. Throughout the semester, the PITC program coordinator makes visits to each school or community center and communicates with all PITC teaching artists, teachers and community leaders on a weekly basis.

The program culminates with the publication of an anthology of participant work, and a public reading for all participating schools and communities in December and May.

The PITC Guest Speaker program connects professional writers to schools and communities for a one-time visit to talk to students and community members personally about the life of a writer, answer questions, and read from their work. Visits can be in person or via Skype.