Background on Richard and Pongo


Richard Gold is the founder of the award-winning Pongo Teen Writing Project in Seattle, and the author of Writing with At-Risk Youth : The Pongo Teen Writing Method (Rowman & Littlefield Education, 2014). Pongo is a 23-year-old nonprofit that teaches and mentors personal poetry by youth who have suffered childhood traumas, such as abuse, neglect, and exposure to violence. Pongo especially focuses on young people who have a hard time expressing themselves. To accomplish its goals, Pongo runs trauma-informed writing programs inside juvenile detention centers, homeless shelters, psychiatric hospitals, and other sites. Pongo provides its authors with the opportunity to write about the worst experiences imaginable – often for the first time – but in a way that feels safe, offers relief, brings creative joy, leads to openness, and facilitates healing. Pongo has directly served 6,000 youth (and adults), and has served thousands more through projects that Pongo has trained nationally. Pongo’s mission is help its authors understand their difficult feelings, find their strong voices, and address their life challenges and best hopes.

Pongo was featured in a national STORY ON PBS NEWSHOUR , that included U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, who visited Pongo’s team inside juvenile detention. Pongo was also featured in an Emmy-winning news STORY ON KING5-TV (NBC affiliate) in Seattle.

In other honors, as Pongo’s founder, Gold was named a MICROSOFT INTEGRAL FELLOW in a presentation by Bill and Melinda Gates. The award was judged by Tom Brokaw (journalist) and the heads of five prominent national foundations. In addition, Pongo received a SEATTLE MAYOR'S ARTS AWARD  for its deep and lasting impact on social issues. In 2018, the King County Executive declared May 10th to be "Pongo Teen Writing 20th Anniversary Day" in honor of Pongo's 20 years of service inside juvenile detention.

Richard Gold has donated his time to this work for over 20 years. In offering presentations and trainings, it is his purpose to encourage, train, and support individuals and writing projects in the successful Pongo model. Richard Gold is a published poet.

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