School on Wheels
School on Wheels is a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing educational opportunities for children experiencing homelessness from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Founded in 1993 by Agnes Stevens, a retired schoolteacher, and expanded under the leadership of Catherine Meek, the organization is the sole one of its kind in Southern California committed exclusively to addressing the educational needs of this vulnerable population.
The organization's core programs and services include:
- One-on-One Tutoring: School on Wheels relies on volunteer tutors who meet with their students regularly, either online or in person, to provide valuable mentorship and educational support.
- Digital Learning Access: Through their Digital Learning Initiative, the organization equips students with technology and internet access, bridging the digital divide and ensuring equal educational opportunities.
- Scholarships: Students have the opportunity to apply for scholarships that can be used for college, trade schools, arts/music/sports programs, summer educational programs, apprenticeships, or enrichment classes, with contributions welcome through their donation page.
- School Supplies: Every student they assist receives a new backpack filled with school supplies, empowering over 5,000 students annually.
- Skid Row Learning Center: Located in an area with one of the highest concentrations of homelessness in the U.S., this center offers a safe and engaging learning environment, academic lessons, and a summer program for students experiencing homelessness.
- Where They Serve: School on Wheels partners with over 400 sites across Southern California, including libraries, shelters, and after-school programs, providing stability, consistency, and educational support to those in need.
The organization's mission since 1993 has been to shrink the educational gaps for homeless children, offering a consistent support system during challenging times. Their dedicated staff and volunteers are guided by values such as trust, integrity, innovation, flexibility, passion, and teamwork. They measure their success by the impact they make, with two-thirds of students improving their assessment scores by a grade level or more after ten weeks of tutoring.
In 2020, 1,602 volunteers tutored 2,360 students experiencing homelessness, helping them envision a brighter future beyond their current circumstances. School on Wheels is not just about teaching; it's about being there for those who need help, as Jeremy A., one of their volunteer tutors, aptly puts it.
The mission of School on Wheels is the enhancement of educational opportunities for children experiencing homelessness from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Our goal is to shrink the gaps in their education and provide them with the highest education possible.