Arts, Culture, and Humanities

PEN PARENTIS

parenting done, write.

New York, NY   |  www.penparentis.org

Mission

The objective of Pen Parentis is to help writers stay on creative track after they start a family. In accordance with our core values of COMMUNITY, PROFESSIONALISM, INCLUSION, and BALANCE, we encourage the production of creative written work of professional standard by authors who are also parents, foster supportive communities of authors who are also parents both in NYC and globally, and provide educational, creative, and professional support through outreach activities to authors who are also parents. We also award an annual Writing Fellowship for New Parents, to encourage the creation of new work by writers at a critical stage of their career trajectory. Our public Literary Salons are listed in the New York Times and The New Yorker. Our Cycle of Support is a proven success.

Notes from the nonprofit

We are small but our programs are of outstanding quality and we are poised to scale.

Ruling year info

2014

Founding Director

Milda M. De Voe

Main address

176 Broadway 14F

New York, NY 10038 USA

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EIN

46-2304312

Cause area (NTEE code) info

Arts, Cultural Organizations - Multipurpose (A20)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990-N.

Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Society tells writers they need to choose between being "a serious artist" and having a family. We know that most networking and connections are made at expensive MFA programs or at conferences or residencies where children are not allowed. Residencies tend to begin at one month and go longer. None of these opportunities are possible for parents of young children. We are trying to break stereotypes by showing multiple ways to succeed at writing careers while balancing a family - and we present examples of writers who have achieved success in their careers, while balancing the needs of a family. At Pen Parentis, we don't tell you how to do it, but we show you that it can definitely be done. We have hundreds of examples of authors who have succeeded. Added after CORONAVIRUS: now writer-parents are quarantined 24/7 with their kids and asked to homeschool. You try writing a novel under those circumstances! We are helping them not only create but publish!

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Pen Parentis Literary Salons

A series of free, monthly literary salons showcasing the creative work of authors who are also parents, held on the second Tuesday of each month at an upscale, convivial location in Lower Manhattan. A minimum of three readers present their newest creative works, then there is a roundtable discussion centering on the balance of an active family life with a successful creative career, moderated by curator Christina Chiu (author of Troublemaker and Other Saints) and prize winning author M. M. De Voe, founder of the series. Featured authors have included Victor LaValle, Jennifer Egan, Arthur Phillips, David Gilbert, and other notable writers who are also parents. Wine and refreshments are provided, compliments of Andaz Wall Street. Books are vended for signings to benefit Community Bookstore, a small independent shop in Brooklyn.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Parents
Budget
$27,000

Open to any writer with a child under ten years old, the Pen Parentis Writing Fellowship for New Parents awards one talented writer a one-year merit-based fellowship including $1,000, publication in Dreamers Writing Magazine, a year of promotion, and the opportunity to read at a Pen Parentis Literary Salon alongside three established authors who are parents and who might function as mentors to the Fellow. Word count changes each year to encourage the production of new creative work by parents of young children.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Parents
Budget
$5,000

As budgets permit, Pen Parentis hosts or partners with other organizations to run Special Events, such as Books Ahoy: A Celebration of Children's Literature aboard the historic steamship tender, The Lilac. We have also partnered with 92YTribeca on book classes, PEN America on Jennifer Weiner's social media lecture, and hosted a daylong children's lit festival with comic book artists from Mutha Magazine on Governor's Island in NYC as part of the Center for the Book Festival

Population(s) Served
Adults
Families

Added in 2019, Pen Parentis has begun to track our community building and outreach among writers who are also parents. We started a program of accountability meetups, weekly small group in-person sessions to encourage writers to finish projects and give them support to discuss child-related job issues. The pilot program in 2019 was a huge success resulting in many first-time publications for our constituents. We currently run five weekly workshops and two of these are in partnership with Writing Spaces in New York and New Jersey.

Population(s) Served
Parents
Caregivers

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of briefings or presentations held

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Pen Parentis Literary Salons

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

In 2019, Pen Parentis held nine well-attended Literary Salons in Lower Manhattan. We also held weekly Meetups for writers who are also parents to keep them accountable to their writing goals.

Number of list subscribers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults,Parents,Multiracial people

Related Program

Pen Parentis Literary Salons

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

In 2019, our email list increased to 2213 unique names, and 513 "opened" the most recent email to view and 40 "engaged"

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Charting impact

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

We wish to see a world in which writers who have children feel supported and celebrated for maintaining the balance of family with a creative career, without an assumption being made that they 1) write only about their children or 2) have given up on their creative careers or 3) that they are in any way less creative or interesting than their counterparts, merely because they are raising children in addition to writing. Specifically, we would like to see Pen Parentis Literary Salons around the globe, and would like to found Pen Parentis Local Chapters where writers who are parents can support and celebrate each other in smaller, less urban communities.

Writers discover us through social media and follow us for inspiration, attending our Salons or starting at an accountability meetup, then they become part of our community and create accountability pods and/or workshops with other writer-parents. When they publish they can read at our salons to inspire other parents to complete their work. Simple and effective. The Cycle of Support. We are also developing a set of guidelines for Pen Parentis Local Chapters, so that interested parties who reach a minimum number of committed writers who are parents in a specific geographic location can get a packet to help them run events similar to our urban Salons but tailored to a small, regular group. We hope to also fund trips from urban centers to these local chapters so that they can visit with established authors who are also parents, in order to foster a mentoring relationship among these established and emerging authors. We use our website, Twitter, Facebook (both a public and a closed group) to monitor feedback from interested parties and have recently hired a volunteer from Colorado to publish a series of parent-writer interviews on our website to help inspire writers in more remote locations where it is harder to find community. Finally, our popular Pen Parentis Writing Fellowship for New Parents results in nearly 200 new works of professional-level quality fiction each year, all written by the parents of children under 10 years of age--a time that is critical for writers who are also parents.

We have been successfully running the Pen Parentis Literary Salons in Lower Manhattan for ten years now. Our Executive Director is passionate about helping parents stay on creative track and paired with a curator who is determined to keep diversity high in our panels, we have one of the most high-end and inclusive Salons in New York City. We have many volunteers across the country, and are growing all the time. We run a 245K organization on a shoestring budget because our passion draws volunteers from across the country and the magic of the internet allows Pen Parentis to employ these passionate volunteers and keep in constant touch with them.

Each Salon is better attended than the last. We have currently booked our authors a year in advance and have needed to make RSVP lists, which fill up a week before each event. Volunteers are coming to us, asking to be more involved. Our advisory board includes Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winning authors, big name agents, and others whose support is invaluable. Our work is mentioned in many newspapers and journals from neighborhood publications like Downtown Express to glossy international high-end travel magazines like The Four Seasons Magazine. We are adding board members and expanding the reach of our Salons. Each year our Fellowship draws more entries and our budget grows. We track growth of numbers of memberships, social media followers, meetup participants, and viewers of our Salons as success metrics. We are award-winning despite being only a few years old. We were honored by WNYC/WQXR in New York City as STAR participants - among only 30 other small nonprofits in New York City. The New York City Salon Curator won the 2015 Wai Look Award from the Asian American Arts Alliance for her work keeping our Salons diverse. We also recently won a library of books from GrantCraft, a subsidiary of The Foundation Center.

When we first began, we were two parent-writers looking for inspiration from experts at a reading series. Now we know that there are no experts, that everyone needs community. What we now seek is a shift in the image of what a "good writer" has to be. No longer is a writer an Ernest Hemingway who abandons his child and wife while he smokes and drinks his way to greatness. Now we have Jennifer Egan who tells her two sons about her Pulitzer win over dinner after soccer practice. Pen Parentis has grown from a dozen people in a room to an organization with bicoastal SRO events covered by the New York Times and LA Times. We have added an annual Fellowship to encourage the production of new works of fiction by authors at a critical stage of their lives, and are working on a data-driven book for best practices of authors who are also parents. Social media has allowed us to expand our communities beyond the boundaries of major urban centers and best of all, volunteers are coming forward asking how they can help, since Pen Parents helped them feel part of an artistic community - wherever they live. We have received lovely thank you notes from writers who had all-but given up on their art until they came across our community: either through the Fellowship, a Salon, or through social media--they found inspiration in our work and in our members and now they write again, and are themselves Pen Parentis Authors. Impact-wise, we are flourishing. We have volunteers from all over the nation, giving thousands of hours of time to the organization's mission. We would like to raise more money--our goal is to have our enthusiastic fan base learn to show their support financially - so that our volunteers could at some point become permanent paid employees. Recently: Pace University developed an app for us, and we transitioned entirely to an online platform for the salons and the Cycle of Support. Spreading the word that we exist is our main problem-- so we are actively seeking introductions to other literary nonprofits. We are excited to grow nationally in the years to come, despite the challenges of the coronavirus--or perhaps to some extent, because of it. We have become an essential service to our members to help them stay on creative track, and we are proud to lead into the future.

Financials

PEN PARENTIS
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
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  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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PEN PARENTIS

Board of directors
as of 8/7/2020
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Milda M. De Voe

Julie Paddleford

Orrstown Bank

Arlaina Tibensky

Gotham Writers Workshop

Helen Wan

A&E Network (lawyer)

Jamie Clarke

Board Secretary

Marina Aris

Brooklyn Writers Project

Helene Epstein

journalist

Mai Hoang

graphic designer

Milda De Voe

Pen Parentis

Irena McCarthy

Deloitte & Touche

Lisa Wixon

Author

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? No
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? No
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? No
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Keywords

literary, creative, diverse, arts, literature, books, authors, parenting, parents, writers, salons, events, public, supportive, arts, new york city, new york, fellowships, moms, dads, single parents