Local News and Press Freedom Advocacy

Type of Activity: Project
Grantee: PEN American Center
Amount: $100,000 in 2020

What is PEN American Center?  

Founded in 1922, PEN America is the largest of the more than 100 centers worldwide that make up the PEN International network. PEN America works to ensure that people everywhere have the freedom to create literature, to convey information and ideas, to express their views, and to access the views, ideas, and literatures of others.

Why do we think this project is important?

A robust, dynamic, and inclusive free press is essential to genuinely empowered, informed, and vibrant communities — the very foundation of American civic life. And protecting a free press requires both grassroots support from the communities it seeks to cover and a commitment from lawmakers to legal, economic, and policy support.

PEN America expanded its local news and press freedom advocacy efforts throughout the country, with a focus on legislative efforts and policy solutions. Their teams led campaigns and community convenings that advocated for increased attention to these issues using a variety of methods that included resolutions, bills, and constituent campaigns. This built on their existing efforts to organize Congressional support for stimulus funding of local news organizations.

This work is needed now more than ever; in response to the recent increase in protests in cities and states across the country, PEN America drafted local sign-on letters to city officials urging them to protect the press and protestors who faced threats and violence from law enforcement.

How is Democracy Fund Voice supporting PEN American Center?

In 2020, Democracy Fund Voice approved a grant of $100,000 to PEN American Center.