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Founded in 1995, Pongo Poetry Project’s mission is to engage youth in writing poetry to inspire healing and growth. In order to further our mission, Pongo is committed to becoming an anti-racist organization. Internally and externally, we support diversity, equity, inclusion, and the expansion of expressive arts programming to youth who lack access to it.

Pongo is a growing organization and recruiting and retaining a diverse staff is a high priority. Please check back periodically as positions become available. You may also contact us at: info@pongopoetryproject.org

Open Positions

About Pongo Poetry Project at King County’s Child and Family Justice Center (CFJC)

Pongo Poetry Project’s mission is to engage youth in writing poetry to inspire healing and growth. Founded in 1995, Pongo is a Seattle-based nonprofit that uses personal poetry to facilitate healing among youth coping with devastating traumas, such as abuse, neglect, racism and exposure to violence. We are looking for a passionate, skilled, and organized teaching artist to lead our flagship site at CFJC.  

Pongo has mentored poetry with over 6,500 individuals. Research and evaluation demonstrate the significant therapeutic benefits of our programming and high levels of satisfaction among the youth we serve. And through our publishing program, we have released 16 poetry collections featuring work authored by the youth we serve.

At the heart of our program is the Pongo Method, a trauma-informed technique for teaching poetry, created in consultation with prominent community psychiatrists from the University of Washington. Pongo’s approach offers youth a safe, gratifying way to express feelings about some of the worst experiences imaginable, including incest, rape, beatings, abandonment, and witnessing violent death. Our approach engages youth in writing poetry in service of finding healing and inspiring resilience.

Our direct service work entails implementing therapeutic poetry writing workshops at detention centers, psychiatric hospitals, and other sites frequented by youth with histories of trauma. Specifically, we have offered our poetry mentorship at CFJC since 1998, which speaks to the enduring impact of our program.

Offering a space for healing and recovery is crucial to the healthy emotional development of all youth, but especially those we serve, who exist at the intersection of racial injustice and economic hardship. Our approach helps youth write about painful life experiences – often for the first time – in a way that promotes insight and healing.

King County’s CFJC is a juvenile detention center in Seattle. Many CFJC residents are youth of color who have endured traumatic experiences in the form of abuse, neglect, and exposure to violence. These incidents have been caused and exacerbated by community disinvestment, systemic racism, and other forms of institutional oppression. In collaboration with CFJC staff, Pongo poetry writing offers CFJC youth a vehicle for self-discovery and creative expression that inspires recovery and healing.

Pongo’s CFJC Poetry Project Lead Job Description

The CFJC Poetry Project Lead reports to the Co-Executive Director, Programs and has overall responsibility for Pongo Poetry Mentors at CFJC, the project’s implementation, service delivery, communication, outcomes, and interconnectedness to the therapeutic and educational milieu of CFJC.

Core Responsibilities

  • Plan and lead 2 separate hour-long weekly workshops for youth at CFJC (service is planned for in-person sessions onsite at 1211 E. Alder Street, Seattle, WA 98122; however, the Project Lead must be prepared to pivot to online work should COVID-19 redirect programming)
  • Supervise 3-4 volunteers
  • Lead intentional check-ins and debriefs with volunteers and staff before and after the workshops
  • Facilitate training and skill-building opportunities for Poetry Mentors
  • Communicate with multiple CFJC Points of Contact to ensure successful service delivery
  • Detailed and consistent record keeping using Dropbox, Excel, and Microsoft Word
  • Report any risks, safety concerns, or problematic volunteer behavior
  • Potentially creating an end-of-year mini-magazine (zine) for youth with selections of youth poetry and artwork

Other Responsibilities in collaboration with the Co-Executive Director, Programs

  • Troubleshooting technology
  • Coordinate with Co-Executive Director, Programs on visits from Pongo staff, donors, foundation leaders, poets, etc.
  • Implementing skill-building and debriefing opportunities for Poetry Mentors
  • Carry out the project timeline
  • Assisting with interviews of additional volunteers as needed
  • Communicate and coordinate vacation dates or sick time
  • Communicate with CFJC staff (staff point of contact, case managers, therapists, director, administrators, direct care staff, counselors, etc.)
  • Communicate regularly with the Co-Executive Director, Programs with needs, concerns, issues, or other matters as they arise
  • Problem-solve issues that emerge among volunteers, CFJC staff, or youth
  • Support volunteers with difficult feelings that emerge because of the work

Qualifications

The Poetry Project Lead at CFJC must be thoroughly committed to Pongo’s mission. Candidates will be considered based on the range of their lived and learned experiences, professional background, and direct and transferable skills. Pongo seeks candidates with a compelling combination of demonstrated experience and skills.

Required Qualifications include:

  • At least 3 years of experience leading/teaching classes and/or groups
  • Consistency in leading workshops/classes/groups
  • Excellence in leadership of youth, able to create and maintain a collaborative and edifying learning environment or therapeutic milieu where each participant feels valued
  • Creative capacity for generating and implementing curriculum to diverse populations
  • Experience thoroughly tracking outcomes such as attendance and artifacts of youth progress
  • Flexibility with technology in fluid situations where software, hardware, supplies, and learning location may change or need to be adjusted
  • Problem solving skills
  • Commitment to anti-racist orientation in learning environments
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills; a passionate communicator with quality interpersonal skills.
  • Passion for poetry and an appreciation for the role of expressive arts in healing

Preferred Qualifications include:

  • Experience volunteering in or leading a Pongo-inspired poetry project
  • Knowledge of juvenile detention facilities

Our ideal candidate will be:

  • Action-oriented, collaborative, adaptable, and committed
  • Passionate about youth and people, positive, mission-driven, self-directed, engaging

Compensation and Benefits

This is a part time, hourly position at 7 hours/week, with a $6,000-$7,000 salary (depending on experience) during the project year (approximately between October-June).

The Project Lead must be able to facilitate poetry workshops in person at CFJC’s Seattle location, Wednesdays from 3:30-7:00 pm; hours worked outside this time are flexible.

There are no benefits at this time (e.g., no medical benefits, no mileage reimbursement), other than sick and safe leave. Pongo Projects take Federal Holidays off, along with the final week of December off. 

We welcome applicants to apply until end-of-day September 2nd.

To Apply

Please submit your resume, cover letter, and three references (including contact information) to Ashley Skartvedt at ashley@pongopoetryproject.org. In addition, Pongo’s poetry mentorship sites require background checks of all outside visitors. If selected, prospective project leaders must be willing to complete a background check before working with youth.

Pongo Poetry Project is an equal opportunity employer. Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) are highly encouraged to apply.

About Pongo Poetry Project at Child Study and Treatment Center (CSTC)

Pongo Poetry Project’s mission is to engage youth in writing poetry to inspire healing and growth. Founded in 1995, Pongo is a Seattle-based nonprofit that uses personal poetry to facilitate healing among youth coping with devastating traumas, such as abuse, neglect, racism and exposure to violence. We are looking for a passionate, skilled, and organized teaching artist to lead our flagship site at CSTC.  

Pongo has mentored poetry with over 6,500 individuals. Research and evaluation demonstrate the significant therapeutic benefits of our programming and high levels of satisfaction among the youth we serve. And through our publishing program, we have released 16 poetry collections featuring work authored by the youth we serve.

At the heart of our program is the Pongo Method, a trauma-informed technique for teaching poetry, created in consultation with prominent community psychiatrists from the University of Washington. Pongo’s approach offers youth a safe, gratifying way to express feelings about some of the worst experiences imaginable, including incest, rape, beatings, abandonment, and witnessing violent death. Our approach engages youth in writing poetry in service of finding healing and inspiring resilience.

Our direct service work entails implementing therapeutic poetry writing workshops at detention centers, psychiatric hospitals, and other sites frequented by youth with histories of trauma. Specifically, we have offered our poetry mentorship at CSTC since 2000, which speaks to the enduring impact of our program.

Offering a space for healing and recovery is crucial to the healthy emotional development of all youth, but especially those we serve, who exist at the intersection of racial injustice and economic hardship. Our approach helps youth write about painful life experiences – often for the first time – in a way that promotes insight and healing.

CSTC is the only state-run residential psychiatric hospital for youth in Washington State. The youth in residence range in age from 5-17 and stay for an average of 8 months in one of four units or cottages. Youth residents have been diagnosed with a variety of emotional-behavioral disorders, and/or developmental disorders, and/or learning disabilities. Though roughly 40% of the youth arrive at CSTC due to a court order, by the end of their stay, nearly all youth are voluntary residents. Youth residents at CSTC have experienced traumatic events; they have interconnected, complex diagnoses; they also have joyous imaginations and an eagerness to connect.

Pongo’s CSTC Poetry Project Lead Job Description

The CSTC Poetry Project Lead reports to the Co-Executive Director, Programs and has overall responsibility for Pongo Poetry Mentors at CSTC, the project’s implementation, service delivery, communication, outcomes, and interconnectedness to the therapeutic and educational milieu of CSTC, including its schools – Oakgrove Elementary and Firwood Secondary.

Core Responsibilities

  • Plan and lead a 1.5 hour-long weekly workshop for youth at CSTC (service is planned for in-person sessions onsite at 8805 Steilacoom Blvd SW, Lakewood, WA 98498; however, the Project Lead must be prepared to pivot to online work should COVID-19 redirect programming)
  • Supervise 2-3 volunteers
  • Lead intentional check-ins and debriefs with volunteers and staff before and after the workshops
  • Facilitate training and skill-building opportunities for Poetry Mentors
  • Communicate with multiple CSTC Points of Contact to ensure successful service delivery
  • Detailed and consistent record keeping using Dropbox, Excel, and Microsoft Word
  • Report any risks, safety concerns, or problematic volunteer behavior.
  • Select poems at the end of the project term for potential publication

Other Responsibilities in collaboration with the Co-Executive Director, Programs

  • Troubleshooting technology
  • Coordinate with Co-Executive Director, Programs on visits from Pongo staff, donors, foundation leaders, poets, etc.
  • Implementing skill-building and debriefing opportunities for Poetry Mentors
  • Carry out the project timeline
  • Assisting with interviews of additional volunteers as needed
  • Communicate and coordinate vacation dates or sick time
  • Communicate with CSTC staff (staff point of contact, case managers, therapists, director, administrators, direct care staff, counselors, etc.)
  • Communicate regularly with the Co-Executive Director, Programs with needs, concerns, issues, or other matters as they arise
  • Problem-solve issues that emerge among volunteers, CSTC-school staff, or students
  • Support volunteers with difficult feelings that emerge because of the work

Qualifications

The Poetry Project Lead at CSTC must be thoroughly committed to Pongo’s mission. Candidates will be considered based on the range of their lived and learned experiences, professional background, and direct and transferable skills. Pongo seeks candidates with a compelling combination of demonstrated experience and skills.

Required Qualifications include:

  • At least 3 years of experience leading/teaching classes and/or groups
  • Consistency in leading workshops/classes/groups
  • Excellence in leadership of students, able to create and maintain a collaborative and edifying learning environment or therapeutic milieu where each participant feels valued
  • Creative capacity for generating and implementing curriculum to diverse populations
  • Experience thoroughly tracking outcomes such as attendance and artifacts of student progress
  • Flexibility with technology in fluid situations where software, hardware, supplies, and learning location may change or need to be adjusted
  • Problem solving skills
  • Commitment to anti-racist orientation in learning environments
  • Strong written and verbal communication skills; a passionate communicator with quality interpersonal skills.
  • Passion for poetry and an appreciation for the role of expressive arts in healing

Preferred Qualifications include:

  • Experience volunteering in or leading a Pongo-inspired poetry project
  • Knowledge of mental health care treatment facilities and schools

Our ideal candidate will be:

  • Action-oriented, collaborative, adaptable, and committed
  • Passionate about youth and people, positive, mission-driven, self-directed, engaging

Compensation and Benefits

This is a part time, hourly position at 6.5 hours/week, with a $6,000-$7,000 salary (depending on experience) during the project year (approximately between October-June).

The Project Lead must be able to facilitate poetry workshops in person at CSTC’s Lakewood location, Mondays from 12:00-3:00pm; hours worked outside this time are flexible.

There are no benefits at this time (e.g. no medical benefits, no mileage reimbursement), other than sick and safe leave. Pongo Projects take Federal Holidays off, along with the final week of December off. 

To Apply

We welcome applicants to apply until end-of-day September 2nd.

Please submit your resume, cover letter, and three references (including contact information) to Ashley Skartvedt at ashley@pongopoetryproject.org. In addition, Pongo’s poetry mentorship sites require background checks of all outside visitors. If selected, prospective project leaders must be willing to complete a background check before working with youth.

Pongo Poetry Project is an equal opportunity employer. Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) are highly encouraged to apply.

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