Your Support for Pongo

Your Support for Pongo

Candace & Donald,

On behalf of Pongo Poetry Project, I want to extend our sincerest gratitude to you for your vital support of our mission and programming.

Thanks to your generous support, in 2023 Pongo engaged systems-involved youth in our healing poetry writing programming, embarked on exciting partnerships to amplify our impact, and supported community leaders nationwide in establishing therapeutic poetry programming based on our proven model.

The highlights below represent a fraction of the impact that your support made possible. All of us at Pongo are grateful for your sustained belief in our mission, and support of the vulnerable young people we serve.

With Gratitude,
Nebeu Shimeles
Pongo Poetry Project
Co-Executive Director, Development & Finance
Pronouns: he/him
C (206) 816-0414 | nebeu@pongopoetryproject.org

Connecting with Young People Nationwide​

Christian Howze, hailing from South Carolina, is one of the many young people Pongo has had the privilege of supporting by making our programming available nationwide. Christian discovered Pongo through Well-Versed: Pongo Poets Online, our online poetry submission program, and won the 2022 Pongo Poetry Prize for his incredible piece, “Seventeen Forever.” In 2023, Christian was gracious enough to recite his award winning-piece, and share his perspective on Pongo’s impact in the video above. Christian’s poem, and the comfort and relief he found through Pongo programming, is precisely why we do this work.

Advocating for the Healing Power of Youth Self-Expression​

Pongo was fortunate to welcome a talented group of Pacific Northwest poets to Speaking Volumes 2023, our annual fall celebration, one of whom was Cave Canem Fellow, Quenton Baker. Speaking Volumes proved to be a special night, highlighting the urgent need to support systems involved youth coping with trauma, and advocating for the mental health benefits of youth self-expression.

Included above is an excerpt from Quenton’s appearance at Speaking Volumes, in which they share their belief in the power of poetry and self-expression in inspiring healing, and offer a powerful reading of two poems.

Partnering to Amplify Our Healing Impact​

While Pongo is the only Seattle area nonprofit using poetry writing as its primary intervention, we are grateful to operate in an ecosystem alongside several organizations that share our commitment to supporting the mental and emotional well-being of young people. One of those organizations is the Screenwriting for Healing, self-Actualization [sic], Redemption, and Empathy (S.H.A.R.E.) program.

The videos included below are the result of a partnership with Lindy Boustedt, founder and director of the S.H.A.R.E Screenwriting program. Through the program, Lindy worked with Echo Glen students, one of Pongo’s flagship program sites, to transform their Pongo poems into short films.

Letter to God, featured above, finds the author grappling with their past mistakes, struggling with toll of their isolation, and pleading for emotional relief. It exemplifies the tremendous challenges facing young people, and how Pongo provides an outlet for expressing their pain and processing their experiences.

In Find My Way Back Home, featured above, this youth writer reflects on the causes and consequences of his previous actions, the toll of his incarceration, and his deep-seated fear about being unable to reclaim the joy that characterized his earlier childhood. Find My Way Back Home captures the emotional weight that incarcerated and systems-involved youth are carrying on their shoulders. By processing these emotions through Pongo, young people ultimately realize that their difficult pasts do not have to define their futures; that self-growth, happiness, and love are all well within their reach.



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