School On Wheels Provides Hope For Homeless California Students
Schools On Wheels has long been aiding homeless students in California and now is expanding their offerings.
Homelessness has been on the rise since before the pandemic. During the 2017-2018 school year more than 1.5 million public school children were homeless. This number has likely increased due to the economic uncertainty of the past two years, and so now one program is offering some relief to children in California. School on Wheels was formed decades ago, but is finding purpose in the modern era.
One in 20 children in California is homeless. This highly affects their education status, and their ability to support themselves as adults. In order to empower students with a good education School on Wheels offers free educational services. From school supplies to scholarships, tutoring, and digital learning access, these free offerings give students the ability to learn even in the toughest situations. Best of all, they also offer a Skid Row Learning Center that is open six days a week throughout the year.
By focusing on children’s education, Schools on Wheels do not belittle homeless students or frustrate them by discussing their situation. The organization is solely designed to give children a sense of normalcy which offers the knowledge they need to potentially get off the streets eventually. They offer support and care and that has led this charity to successfully serve the community for nearly 30 years.
School on Wheels was founded in 1993. Back then only one in 30 children were homeless, but that number was enough to create a need for this program. Founder Agnes Stevens got the idea after she retired from teaching.
The organization progressed slowly but then Catherine Meek joined her efforts in 1999. Meek had been inspired to help out after volunteering at a homeless shelter where she found a 6-year-old girl hiding under her desk for a tutoring session.
Meek sat down with her and began to read a story. This afforded the little girl some comfort and she came to enjoy books. Every week they spent an hour together and the girl’s progress meant so much to Meek that she decided to expand on this experience. By joining School on Wheels, she became dedicated to helping the program grow.
School on Wheels started partnering with local community efforts. From motels to libraries, schools to homeless shelters, they reached out to provide educational services. Sometimes they would stop to discuss the option with families living in their cars or sleeping on the street. This is now a year-round practice.
Reaching out to those in need has aided more than 3,000 homeless children per year across six counties. Over 2,000 tutors volunteer to be trained and put to work annually. School on Wheels has grown at such a rate that they received $3.5 million in donations for 2020 and their work isn’t done yet.
Programs like School on Wheels are making a difference in children’s lives without judgment or government interference. Homeless California students can learn and explore in a free environment without fear. Their continued expansion is offering aid to those most in need during a time of increasing economic hardship.