Pongo Poetry at Schoolhouse Washington

Grants to Middle Schools to Provide Poetry for Youth Who Deal with Housing Instability and Other Trauma


Pongo is proud of our new collaboration! We've partnered with Schoolhouse Washington and the Seattle University Project on Family Homelessness to create new Fellowships to establish school-based poetry programs for middle-school students who have experienced homelessness or housing instability, as well as other personal traumas and challenges. Pongo received a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to fund this project.

After a competitive application process that began in late 2017, four Washington middle schools and school districts have won Fellowship grants from the Pongo Poetry at Schoolhouse Washington project to help their middle-school students use personal poetry to deal with housing instability and other trauma. The grants will establish school-based poetry programs using the acclaimed Pongo Poetry method. The program seeks to support and recognize the powerful voices of children as they overcome life challenges, amplifying those voices through Schoolhouse Washington’s work to improve housing stability and educational outcomes.

The recipients of the Pongo Poetry at Schoolhouse Washington Fellowship grants are:

  • Cascade Middle School in White Center, Washington.

  • Lincoln Middle School in Clarkston, Washington.

  • Nelsen Middle School, Dimmitt Middle School, and McKnight Middle School in Renton, Washington.

  • Salish Middle School in Lacey, Washington.


Fellowship recipients will receive a $1,000 stipend for project use (poetry journals, books, readings, publishing), and free Pongo training, materials, and support worth up to $5,000. In addition, Pongo hopes to publish selected poetry written by students in the program.

Katara Jordan of Schoolhouse Washington notes that nearly 8,000 middle-school-aged students were reported as homeless in Washington state in 2015-16. “The project will help us document the experiences of middle-school students in Washington state facing challenges to their education, especially housing instability, and share their stories,” said Jordan.

Catherine Hinrichsen of Seattle University’s Project on Family Homelessness explains that their project works with advocacy partners across the region to help tell the stories of families who are homeless, and connect those stories to meaningful action.