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2012 Top-Rated Nonprofit

School on Wheels, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Education

Mission: The mission of School on Wheels is to enhance educational opportunities for homeless children from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Our goal is to shrink the gaps in their education and provide them with the highest level of education possible.

Results: In 2016 we tutored 3,450 homeless kids; increased our volunteer force to more than 2,200; raised over $2,200.000; re-designeded and updated our volunteer training; expanded our Digital learning program; relocated our resource centers; and, remodeled our Skid Row Learning Center.

Target demographics: Homeless Children K-12th Grade

Direct beneficiaries per year: 6000 Homeless students throughout Southern California

Geographic areas served: Southern California

Programs: Our program serves as a consistent support system to homeless students at a time of great stress and fear. We bring the message to our students that they are cared about and important. We do this by offering: One-on-one weekly tutoring with a volunteer Backpacks, school supplies, and school uniforms A toll-free number for kids to keep in touch with us (800-923-1100) Assistance in entering school Help in locating lost records Guidance for parents in educational matters for their children A learning center located in the heart of Skid Row Tutoring in seven major regions in Southern California, including Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino and Ventura counties.

Community Stories

12 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

6 Lorraine8

Volunteer

Rating: 5

School on Wheels is an amazing non-profit volunteer organization helping homeless and displaced children all over Southern California. I started volunteering over a year ago and have helped 3 children in a local shelter get the homework help that they needed. I currently continue to tutor a student weekly and it is one of my favorite moments of my week, by far. To be able to make a difference in a child's life and reiterate the importance of education, is something I am extremely proud of. This is a win-win situation and I am so happy to be a part of it.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been working with School On Wheels in Los Angeles' Skid Row since September. The people running this program are dedicated, talented and passionate. The kids are met at the bus, which drops them off in the heart of Skid Row. They are escorted by volunteers and staff to the program. There, they are given a snack. Then it's time for homework. The staff attends to each child's (sometimes up to 25), making sure they are on task and up to speed. At the end of the day, they are either picked up by a parent or escorted back to the shelter. School On Wheels provides a valuable service to an otherwise forgotten part of our community. Many Thanks for all your efforts and good works!!

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

i got involved with School on Wheels when they came to a local art studio for a field trip. I could tell instantly that all the staff had a genuine concern for the children and their efforts to do educational outreach. This charity fills a critical gap in supporting education for foster and homeless children. The cycle of poverty ends when there is a collective commitment to education and literacy. School on Wheels is a life changing organzation for all of those involved.

2 Alicia15

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Volunteering at School on Wheels has been the most rewarding volunteer experience of my life. I was connected with awesomely inspirational youth and was able to help them in a very direct way with very little time commitment. Everybody I ever worked with at this organization was kind. professional. and truly believed in the power of what we were doing.

1 Diana28

Volunteer

Rating: 5

School on Wheels is a great organization to volunteer with. Not only are they caring, and provide a truly valuable service, they are also very organized. So, volunteering with them means you're able to make maximum impact with the time and skills you're able to give. Best of all, the kids and parents do make the most of what the volunteers have to offer.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

School on Wheels has been an amazing part of my life. I enjoy helping kids succeed and am proud to serve under a great staff that supports you and the child/children you tutor. I started out as a tutor, once a week, and quickly grew found of the organization, motivating me to take on a larger role and even devote more of my time to the cause. I am a college student taking way too many units and also work part-time, so if I can make this commitment, anyone can. I highly encourage anyone School on Wheels because it is a very rewarding and simple way for one to give back to the community in a profound way!

1 Edwin E.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Great volunteer opportunity for a cause truly humbles you as a person and gives you perspective.

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

An outstanding organization that places value on people over profits. Goes above and beyond in helping homeless youngsters. The Skid Row Learning Center is a safe haven in the area of Skid Row in Los Angeles. This area is rampant with drug dealers, sex offenders, etc. I feel a sense of ownership in the Skid Row learning center. I don't know all of the answers but there is always someone to help me find the answers. The kids are wonderful and want you to return. It is a wonderful feeling to watch a youngster grow into someone who "couldn't" into someone who "can". I am ashamed to admit it but I have gotten more out of this organization than I have given it. I have learned patience, how to enjoy the simple things in life, and how not to let little things upset me. I have also learned that it is OK to make mistakes. The time that I spend at the Skid Row Learning Center is the highlight of my week. This organization truly puts youngsters on the road towards self sufficiency by teaching them that they can do anything they set their mind to. They learn that it is OK to make mistakes because many of the greatest discoveries in the world were the result of mistakes. I have been a volunteer for 6 years and have experienced everything from the joy of seeing a student graduate to the sadness of seeing a student leave and not knowing where they ended up. I am proud to be a volunteer at School on Wheels. I would encourage anyone to volunteer. Whether you have an hour, two, four, six or eight every little bit helps and you CAN make a difference in the life of a homeless youngster.

1 Kailee Q.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

School on Wheels is such a wonderful organization to volunteer for. From the second I stepped into my training session to begin working with School on Wheels, I felt so welcomed and appreciated. I have been tutoring the same student for about 8 months now and it is one of the most rewarding parts of my week. I am so glad I became involved with this organization, and they are very organized! The regional coordinator do everything they can to make sure that your student has whatever resources they need and they take their time to answer questions and assist you with your tutoring. They even organize tutor appreciation get-togethers! Such a lovely group of people and I feel blessed to have found them.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Great volunteer opportunity, especially if you want something long term and you can commit for an hour a week

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Last November I volunteered to tutor a homeless child for one hour a week through a program called Schools on Wheels. `One hour a week?’ I thought. I can easily do that. School on Wheels At the volunteer orientation I learned all sorts of disheartening facts. There are 1.5 million homeless people in the US — 290,000 of them live in California and 14,000 live in my city of Los Angeles, which has the largest concentration of homeless people in the country. I confess that I harbored the stereotype that your typical homeless person is a middle-aged male with alcohol, drug and psychiatric problems, but it turns out that the average age of a homeless person in the US is about 9 years old. Single mothers and their children are the people you’re most likely to find living on the streets and in cars, rundown motels and shelters. Founder of School on WheelsThese kids often change schools three or four times a year and each time they do, they usually lose their friends and fall behind in their education. Most don’t tell their friends or teachers that they’re homeless. So they have problems at school and their teachers don’t know why. They move away suddenly, leaving friends who are angry and hurt, because they feel rejected. It’s no surprise that the school dropout rate of homeless children is high, which is why Agnes Stevens, a retired teacher, started School on Wheels 17 years ago. At the orientation we were told that the kids often show up to the tutoring sessions tired, hungry, sick, and burdened by the stresses of adult problems, including taking care of their parents and siblings. They often feel abandoned and neglected and are sometimes abused. If they’re in shelters they can wake up at 5 or 6am, wait to shower, often get their few belongings stolen, and are sometimes exposed to unsafe situations. They leave to go to school and the shelters don’t let people back in until the late afternoon. When they return, there’s little to no privacy and it’s noisy and hard to study. The tutor is often the only adult in their lives who pays attention to them. Many volunteers end up tutoring the same child for years. Part of what originally appealed to me about this program was that I was only required to volunteer one hour a week. But by the end of the orientation I realized that I was signing up for one child, not one hour. I was assigned to a 6 year old boy who lives in a battered women’s shelter. Who was this stranger I was committing to? Would I like him? One sunny December afternoon, I drove to south LA to the shelter where the boy lives. I got buzzed into the facility and met my volunteer coordinator. The shelter was threadbare, but clean and well-run by friendly people. There was even a small children’s room where I met the boy Victor (not his real name). He breezed in and joined us adults seated at the table who were filling out paperwork. I had been given a list of questions to ask him, which were designed to help us to get to know each other. But there was no need for me to ask him what his favorite color was, or whether he preferred chocolate or peanut butter. We connected immediately and it took me all of a nanosecond to recognize that he was one bright little kid. My volunteer coordinator left the room and by the time he returned, ten minutes later, Victor and I were already deeply engaged in doing his homework, which he informed me had to be done by the next day. The School on Wheels coordinator presented Victor with a new backpack full of fresh school supplies. Victor looked longingly at his new trove of treasure. “Do you want to take a break and look at what you got?” I asked. But he would not be deterred. “I want to finish my homework first.” The volunteer coordinator presented Victor with an eraser. The boy flipped it playfully in his palm. Suppressing a smile, he scrunched his brows, and asked, “Do I have to pay you for this?” “No,” the coordinator said kindly, suppressing his own smile, “It’s yours. You can pay me back after you graduate from college.” “I don’t know,” Victor perked up, “after college I’m going to make a lot of money and I’m gonna want to keep it all.” I was blown away. What 6 year old boy refuses the offer to examine new presents until he finishes his homework? My guess is that the college matriculation rate of a kid in his position is rather low. Yet Victor already sees himself graduating from college; he’s bright, disciplined and determined. My task, I thought, is not going to be how to help this kid catch up, but how to keep him academically challenged in an unchallenging school environment. I went home that day grateful that I had volunteered and excited about the journey ahead.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

As a newly graduated college student, I was given the opportunity to put my time to great use. There are scores of homeless children all over the country, and most of them have only one parent. This organization efficiently matches donors(volunteers) with homeless children for after school tutoring. Since working with this non-profit I have seen a noticeable difference in the lives of the two students i tutor. They also do a great job following up with tutors, and providing backpacks, bus tokens and school supplies to students who can't afford them. I strongly recommend this organization to anyone in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and Ventura counties who has just an extra hour per week. School on Wheels change lives!