Pongo's Mission and Vision 


PONGO POETRY PROJECT'S MISSION: to engage youth in writing poetry to inspire healing and growth.

PONGO 2029 (VISION): In the next ten years, Pongo will grow its community and reach by building on its uniquely successful therapeutic methodology that is codified in Writing with At-Risk Youth: The Pongo Teen Writing Method by Richard Gold. Pongo’s ongoing direct service projects will continue to demonstrate Pongo’s value and earn additional professional allies. Through trainings, Pongo’s work will continue to impact communities nationally and internationally. Independent research will bolster the evidence base to support Pongo’s therapeutic poetry intervention. An annual gathering/conference will be established to proliferate trauma-informed healing. Operationally, Pongo will be sustainable in this work, with diverse funding sources including government contracts for direct service, earned income from trainings and book sales, and greatly increased philanthropy to support currently unfunded efforts. Ultimately, Pongo will be recognized and utilized broadly as a best practice in the application of expressive arts to heal trauma in marginalized populations.



  • Teens learn to see themselves as people who have had difficult experiences - gaining a perspective beyond the hurt, depression, and sense of responsibility they feel
  • Teens feel listened to
  • Teens feel proud of their work and of the possibility of publication
  • Teens enjoy the writing process even when they write about sad and traumatic events
  • Teens exercise insight and sensitivity
  • Teens understand, support, and are respectful of the mission to foster community understanding of teens
  • Teens learn and use language skills and editorial judgement



  • A welcoming and appreciative attitude toward teens' writing, choosing appropriate times and individuals for critique
  • A clear statement that teens are encouraged to write from the heart about who they are, and that a purpose of the writing project is to foster understanding within the community toward teens
  • A flexible approach that welcomes independent effort but that provides ideas, interviews, and collaborative input as necessary to facilitate the creative process
  • A willingness to take dictation often, converting spoken words to written content
  • An emphasis on honesty and a de-emphasis of spelling, grammar, censorship
  • A skilled effort to produce writing in every session
  • A sensitivity to the points at which teens need to hold back, a willingness to follow up with individuals about their feelings after they write
  • An ability to provide teens with nice copies of their work to keep, read, and share
  • A focus on teen' written work and not on counseling or easy answers to problems
  • The prospect of publication for teens
  • The opportunity for teens to read other teens' writing about personal experiences
  • A belief in the value of listening and compassion