Pongo Project Journal

Sharing stories of our work with teens
Nov 23
Very Happy News!

At a banquet last Thursday at the Westin Hotel in Seattle, I was named a Microsoft Integral Fellow. Pongo will receive a $25K financial award and has the promise of significant support from the Microsoft Alumni Foundation and from my fellow Microsoft alumni in the coming year. The evening could not have been more happy and humbling for me. Alumni committee members not only expressed their personal appreciation for Pongo, but they conveyed the appreciation of Tom Brokaw and the other judges. Bill and Melinda Gates presented me with a medal. In accepting the award I had the chance to talk to 450 people about the difficult lives of Pongo teens, and could also explain how out of this darkness there can be triumph and joy. As I was leaving at the end of the night, one Microsoft person called out, "We're proud of you." My former colleagues are great!

One of the first benefits I've received from the Microsoft Alumni Foundation is that a very artful video was made about Pongo, set in juvenile detention. Please check it out (only two minutes!). Here's the link


It was an honor to stand with my fellow award nominees, finalists, and recipients. My remarks at the banquet are enclosed, below...

Remarks to the Microsoft Alumni Association 
Richard Gold
November 18, 2010

I’d like to thank the Microsoft Alumni Foundation for naming me a Microsoft Integral Fellow. And I’d like to express my appreciation to Bill and Melinda Gates and to the many of you in this audience who are already doing so much to change our world. Thank you. I am humbled to be with you tonight.

I’d like to share a thought with those of you who will soon be entering the world of nonprofits and making your own contributions – My thought is that out of darkness can come triumph and joy.

In the case of the Pongo youth, they have terrible challenges that isolate them. Traumas at an early age can overwhelm young people and leave them fragmented and confused. Trying to understand your life under these circumstances is like trying to look into your own eyes without a mirror. And the abuse these youth suffer is not just a hit, it is coercive. The victims are blamed for their victimization. For children who don’t receive the love they need, they feel a deep burden of shame. And then there is the social stigma that surrounds trauma and tragedy.

But when Pongo authors write about their feelings, and someone is listening, they are changed. They make a cognitive shift, and come to understand that “This is who I am” and “I am not alone.” It is a wonderful moment to share. The other Pongo volunteers and I know that we receive more than we give in this work.

So to those of you who are about to make your efforts to change the world, I’m happy for the opportunities you’ll have to bring triumph and joy out of darkness. You have my best wishes! Please contact me if you’d like my support.

Thank you.

Sep 29
Richard is Honored!

Pongo Friends, I have some wonderful news! I have been selected as a finalist for the 2010 Integral Fellows Awards Program of the Microsoft Alumni Foundation. I am posting the press release below and including links to the impressive programs of the other four finalists...

Microsoft Alumni Foundation announces 2010 Integral Fellows Awards Program Finalists 

Microsoft Alumni give back with talent and resources around the world 

BELLEVUE, Washington – September 21, 2010 - The Microsoft Alumni Foundation announced today the five finalists for the 2010 Integral Fellows Awards Program.  A cornerstone of the Foundation, the Integral Fellows Awards Program recognizes Microsoft alumni who have dedicated their lives to creating something extraordinary to help address challenges around the world.   The five finalists were selected from nominations put forward from among over 150 nonprofit organizations started by Microsoft alumni, and the thousands of alumni doing philanthropic work globally.

Award winners will be recognized by Bill and Melinda Gates at the Microsoft Alumni Foundation Celebration on November 18, 2010 in Seattle.  The winners will each receive a $25,000 unrestricted grant for their nonprofit organization, as well as support from their fellow alumni to help continue in their efforts to leverage resources and scale solutions for their initiatives.

The five finalists are:

The Microsoft Alumni Foundation brings together Microsoft alumni to positively affect the world’s challenges.  “We’ve been fortunate to play a significant part in the information revolution. Now we have a chance to change the world in a different way.  Microsoft alumni are making it happen every day in our local communities and around the world,” said Jeff Raikes, chairman of the board of the Microsoft Alumni Foundation.  "Some very unique individuals were nominated by their peers as Integral Fellows for their work deeply rooted in service and making a difference in people’s everyday lives. Today, I am honored to announce these five finalists.  On November 18th, Bill and Melinda Gates and over 400 fellow Microsoft alumni will gather to announce the final winners and celebrate all the nominees."

The nonprofit organizations being recognized include: 

  • Grameen Foundation - helps the world’s poorest, especially women, improve their lives and escape poverty through access to information, capital and viable business opportunities using microfinance and technology.
  • Pongo Publishing - helps abused and neglected youth to heal by writing poetry, with Pongo Teen Writing projects in homeless shelters, juvenile detention centers, and psychiatric hospitals.
  • Foster Care Justice Alliance – defending the rights of children in out-of-home care, by advocating for changes in society and law, and by providing support to foster kids, foster families and relative caregivers.
  • Literacy Bridge – connects poor, rural communities with the vital knowledge they need to improve their lives by providing the world’s most affordable and durable audio device, designed specifically for people who cannot read and who live without electricity.
  • NetHope - a collaboration of 30+ international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that facilitates public-private partnerships with major technology companies, foundations and governments, enabling NGOs to better leverage their technology investments to improve the delivery of aid in the developing world.

“The Foundation is honored to have such a great panel of esteemed judges working closely with us to recognize Microsoft alumni and their nonprofit organizations,” said Sharon Maghie, secretary of the board of directors, and chair of the Integral Fellows Committee.  The panel of judges includes: 

  • Tom Brokaw, journalist and author
  • Bill Drayton, chair and CEO, Ashoka
  • William H. Gates Sr., co-chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Pierre Omidyar, founding partner, Omidyar Network and founder and chairman, eBay Inc.
  • Judith Rodin, president, Rockefeller Foundation
  • Thomas J. Tierney, chairman and co-founder, Bridgespan Group

Rigorous evaluation of the finalists included achievements that embody the values of the Microsoft Alumni Foundation, which are: innovation; entrepreneurship; effectiveness; collaboration and integrity.  Additional criteria in selecting the winners included: the ability to create something extraordinary out of limited resources; selflessness; passion; smarts; need; and, scalability.

About the Foundation:  The Microsoft Alumni Foundation was established to catalyze the collective power of the Microsoft alumni family and leverage our resources on innovative, scalable and transformative solutions to our world’s challenges. Launched in 2007, the Foundation is a 501(c)(3) public nonprofit organization with its worldwide headquarters based in Bellevue, Washington, USA. Board members include: Jeff Raikes (chair); Chuck Hirsch (president); Scott Oki (co-founder and vice president); Paul Shoemaker (treasurer); Tony Audino (co-founder); Sharon Maghie (co-founder and secretary) and Brad Smith (Microsoft representative).

Note to editors:  If you are interested in viewing additional information on the Microsoft Alumni Foundation, please visit http://www.microsoftalumni.org/.

For additional assistance please contact:
Pamela Portin, Pamela Portin Consulting, LLC.
Mobile: 206-484-2644 Email: pamela@pamelaportin.com