Special gifts

Special gifts to the Writers House are significant term gifts that allow us to establish or support projects, programs, and positions that we hope to make permanent.

As we grow the Writers House endowment, we are also seeking term support for initiatives and ideas that demand urgent and immediate support. Special gifts like these provide several years of funding to new projects and ideas we feel will become fixtures here at the Writers House. This support often allows us to establish a financial and programmatic case for permanent support.

If you'd like to hear more about term gift opportunities, please contact our Assistant Director for Development, Arielle Brousse, at brousse@writing.upenn.edu.

We're especially delighted to celebrate the people and organizations that have made special gifts to the Writers House. Thank you, supporters and friends – gifts such as yours allow this dynamic program space and meeting place for writers and readers to grow and thrive! We are grateful for your enthusiasm, encouragement and support, and honored to describe your gifts here.

Creative Ventures Fund

This fund, generously gifted by Marc (W’80) and Robin Wolpow, encourages us to branch out beyond the poetry and prose for which the House is known, and host programs that focus on the intersection of creativity and enterprise. Creative Ventures events may focus on food justice, urban planning, or social media marketing and communications.

Nir-Braufman Term Fund at Kelly Writers House

In recognition of the broad scope of what we accomplish at the Writers House, Daniel Nir (C’82 W’82) and Jill Braufman support this fund, which allows us to allocate resources toward our most pressing needs and unfunded projects. These efforts include PennSound, our unparalleled digital archive of contemporary poetry, and Jacket2, our online journal of poetry and poetics.

Writers House Junior Fellows

Each year, a competition is held among graduating Penn seniors who apply for the Kelly Writers House Junior Fellowship. The recipient of this honor helps to create new programs at the House, and at the same time is given study space to write and create new art. Past years’ Fellows have published a collaborative chapbook of poems inspired by historic documents of Philadelphia, produced a documentary about women living with HIV, and organized an art and performance exhibit that traveled to the Philadelphia Art Alliance. This project is currently being funded by Randi Hutter Epstein (C’84) and Stuart Epstein (W’84).

Alumni Mentorships

The Writers House, in appealing to the innovative spirit of Penn's most creative and enterprising alumni, has built a robust network of friends in the professional writing world. Because the Writers House believes in learning through discussion and praxis, it happily connects students and other interested writers with working professionals. Mentors who work as novelists, editors, publishers, literary agents, administrators of arts organizations, and in many other capacities, provide guidance and advice to current Penn undergraduates. Mentorship can take the form of a dedicated one-on-one email relationship, a series of in-person meetings, or an organized lunch for a small group around a mutual interest. Longtime Friend of the Writers House Judith Zarin (PAR’09) currently provides support to this project.

Kelly Writers House Fellows

This one-of-a-kind program, supported annually by Paul Kelly (C’62), allows us to invite three eminent and influential contemporary writers a year to visit the Writers House for two days of intensive discussion about their works. The program makes it possible for students to have meaningful, one-on-one contact with accomplished authors and critics.

The Kerry Sherin Wright Prize Fund

We award the Kerry Prize each year to honor the extraordinary achievement of Kerry Sherin Wright, our beloved director from 1997 to 2003. The prize supports Hub member projects that capture the aesthetic capaciousness was the hallmark of Kerry’s work as Writers House director. Anyone can contribute to this prize fund to ensure the continuation of the spirit of literary communitarianism she instilled in this place.

Gordon Walls (C’38) Creative Ventures Fund

This all-purpose fund established by Bill and Sandy Bond and Gordon Lane Bond (C’06) allows us to support fresh initiatives and ideas, especially the creative and sometimes outlandish dreams of our Hub members, who constantly renew the KWH project with proposals for new publications, outreach programs, literary celebrations, and other community-led projects.

RealArts@PENN Internship Funds

Our RealArts@PENN project sets up (and pays stipends for) summer internships at leading organizations in the arts, such as MTV Networks, Rolling Stone, and Brooklyn Films. These are highly competitive, substantive internships for creative-minded students; recipients get real-world arts work experience, free of the coffee-fetching errands that plague many student internships. This project is currently being generously supported by Paul (W’76) and Ossi Burger; Dirk Wittenborn (C’72) and the Cape Branch Foundation; and Alan and Phyllis Berger.

Anonymous Family Foundation Fund

Established by a family who wanted their contribution to have a broad and direct impact, this fund supports general operating costs associated with developing and running Writers House projects—from handmade paper and other art supplies to chairs for our Arts Café and state-of-the-art digital equipment. This fund allows us to be flexible and responsive in relation to the ever-emerging ideas of our vibrant Planning Committee and the real operational needs of our space.

CPCW/ICA Seminar Fund

This gift from Dirk Wittenborn (C’72) and the Cape Branch Foundation makes possible an extraordinary year-long course in collaboration between the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing and the Institute of Contemporary Art, led by Creative Writing Faculty member Kenny Goldsmith.

Seth Ginns Fund for International Writers

Seth Ginns (C’00) established this fund, which supports Writers Without Borders: The Provost’s International Writers Series, which brings writers from around the world to our intimate cottage on Locust Walk. Past readers have hailed from countries including (but not limited to) Israel, Iran, Nigeria, Sweden, and Argentina.

Faculty Director’s Discretionary Fund

This discretionary fund enables Writers House Faculty Director Al Filreis to seek out, encourage, and invest in student talents and innovations. Donors to the fund help the Writers House in its mission to serve as a creative incubator, where students can develop ambitious writing and art projects.

Alumni Virtual Book Groups

These online book discussion groups for Penn alumni and families allow Penn graduates to pursue their love of literature and learning long after they leave campus. Supported by David Roberts (W’84) and led by Penn faculty, staff, and friends, the groups tackle contemporary and classic texts, engaging in rousing discussion (at all hours!) via e-mail, creating a community of literary-minded friends that transcends the limits of geography and time.

Literacy Programs for Community Schoolchildren

In addition to the discussions and workshops we offer, which are always all-ages, we also sponsor several thoughtfully conceived and carefully managed ongoing community writing/mentoring projects designed specifically to encourage and engage budding young writers, thanks to a fund supported annually by Brian (W’90) and Jerilyn Perman (C’91). Their gift enables us to support these programs, encourages Penn students to engage in community service, and helps inspire the public-school children who are Penn’s neighbors. Projects include (but are not limited to):

Write On
Undergraduate Penn students lead local grade-schoolers in creative writing exercises in the Writers House once a week. Working as peers, the undergrad coordinators and grade-schoolers produce work alongside each other and offer constructive criticism, developing their ability to understand writing as well as their ability to write.
Write Corp
This group of Penn students works with local teachers to design and conduct creative writing workshops in classrooms across the city, and assists students with writing projects. The program aims to engage Penn students in the local community, to improve student writing skills, and to assert the importance of creativity in curricula and classrooms. Members make themselves available to conduct in-class or after-school workshops on topics requested by teachers.
The Blacktop
The Blacktop is an online literary magazine for elementary, middle, and high school students in Philadelphia. The Blacktop encourages creative expression by offering young writers an opportunity to publish their work and share it with friends, family, teachers, and the community.

Ronca-Baird Discretionary Fund

This “rainy-day” fund created by Jim Ronca and Deborah Baird allows Writers House staff to support exciting new student projects and opportunities as they come to us. The fund may help a student with associated travel costs for a research project, or may assist with purchasing scenic dressing to outfit an underground theater operation.