Category: Homelessness

Dec 9

Tutors Needed for Special Assignment in Mentone and Riverside

We urgently need tutors at the following locations. Please read on for details on these placements.

Our House (Group home) – Mentone 

  • Group tutoring for one hour on Mondays and Wednesdays
  • Teens (boys and girls) – Provides shelter services for youth 11-17
  • Students can be there for a day or for a number of months
  • Students include run-aways, children who have been sex-trafficked, teens who are foster kids, etc.
  • The environment can be hectic during the time we tutor.
  • Students need encouragement to come to tutoring, need tutors who can inspire learning, be creative and think out of the box

Path of Life (Emergency shelter) – Riverside

  • Tutoring on Mondays and Wednesdays 
  • K-12 (boys and girls)
  • Emergency shelter; families are there for up to 90 days
  • Anywhere from 1 to 5 students may show up for tutoring sessions. Tutors should be flexible and proactive in engaging students to promote attendance.
  • Tutors need to be able to work well with children who are very active
  • Creativity is very important for tutors at this location

Important Skills for Tutors Considering this Placement

School on Wheels works with students experiencing homelessness. These students carry trauma related to their unstable housing and many other experiences they may have had. School on Wheels tutors provide academic support, but in many cases, it is the other elements of tutoring–mentorship, flexibility, and consistency–that truly help our students flourish. 

Due to the nature of the population we serve and the consistent struggles they face, it is the tutors who are flexible, adaptable, compassionate, and proactive who make the biggest impact. Our partner locations are often busy and may not provide the ideal environment for learning. Families may move in and out of a shelter quickly or they may stay for months. Our students desperately need caring, motivated role models to step in once a week and provide them with support and encouragement.

If interested, please contact Regional Coordinator, Stephanie Swenseid: sswenseid@schoolonwheels.org


If you possess the following skills, you may be a perfect fit for these tutoring locations:

  • Ability to build a strong rapport with students/parents/shelter staff. Students learn from who they like and trust. Building a strong relationship with them is the first step in opening the door and developing a curiosity to learn for a student. A large part of the impact tutors make at these types of locations is actually in the mentoring, self-esteem building, etc.
  • Emotional intelligence and a strong capacity for empathy.
  • Flexibility & adaptability. At many of our locations, kids/families are moving constantly. Tutors may see a student once or twice, or they may see them for months. The tutors who show up every week ready to take on whatever the day brings are our most valued volunteers.
  • Self-starter, able to work independently or in a group. We provide all of our tutors with training and consistent support. However, these specific locations are best for tutors who feel comfortable being proactive.
  • Interest in being a positive role model, mentor, and inspiration to your students.
  • Ability to handle chaotic environments and teach within those environments. Our locations are often busy and may not provide the ideal environment for learning. Tutoring requires the ability to work well in this kind of environment. 
Dec 9

Tutors Needed for Special Assignment in Upland

We urgently need tutors at the following location. Please read on for details on this placement.

Reach Out (Drop-in center) – Upland

This is a new engagement for School on Wheels. We are looking for two volunteers who have some experience creating something from the ground up and who truly believe in our mission. Volunteers should be comfortable devoting at least a year to helping School on Wheels develop and strengthen our budding relationship with this location, its staff, and the students who live there.

This location is a drop-in center for older students who have been living on the streets or couch surfing. As a result, the number of students who attend tutoring each week will not be guaranteed. We will be working to create a tutoring environment that will attract and engage students.

Important Skills for Tutors Considering this Placement

School on Wheels works with students experiencing homelessness. These students carry trauma related to their unstable housing and many other experiences they may have had. School on Wheels tutors provide academic support, but in many cases, it is the other elements of tutoring–mentorship, flexibility, and consistency–that truly help our students flourish. 

Due to the nature of the population we serve and the consistent struggles they face, it is the tutors who are flexible, adaptable, compassionate, and proactive who make the biggest impact. Our partner locations are often busy and may not provide the ideal environment for learning. Families may move in and out of a shelter quickly or they may stay for months. Our students desperately need caring, motivated role models to step in once a week and provide them with support and encouragement.

If interested, please contact Regional Coordinator, Stephanie Swenseid: sswenseid@schoolonwheels.org


If you possess the following skills, you may be a perfect fit for these tutoring locations:

  • Ability to build a strong rapport with students/parents/shelter staff. Students learn from who they like and trust. Building a strong relationship with them is the first step in opening the door and developing a curiosity to learn for a student. A large part of the impact tutors make at these types of locations is actually in the mentoring, self-esteem building, etc.
  • Emotional intelligence and a strong capacity for empathy.
  • Flexibility & adaptability. At many of our locations, kids/families are moving constantly. Tutors may see a student once or twice, or they may see them for months. The tutors who show up every week ready to take on whatever the day brings are our most valued volunteers.
  • Self-starter, able to work independently or in a group. We provide all of our tutors with training and consistent support. However, these specific locations are best for tutors who feel comfortable being proactive.
  • Interest in being a positive role model, mentor, and inspiration to your students.
  • Ability to handle chaotic environments and teach within those environments. Our locations are often busy and may not provide the ideal environment for learning. Tutoring requires the ability to work well in this kind of environment. 
Nov 18

The Most Rewarding Volunteer Work You’ve Never Heard Of

Guest post by School on Wheels Ambassador Victor Maldonado

There are enough children without homes in Los Angeles to fill Dodger Stadium. Yet, when we think of homelessness, children aren’t who we typically imagine. With over 65,000 students without homes in Los Angeles County alone, why does child homelessness go so grossly unnoticed? The answer is simple: out of sight, out of mind. These are children who are living in shelters, motels, group foster homes, vehicles, and on the streets. The common thread that connects these children is a lack of consistent education. 

I am proud to volunteer with an organization that bridges these gaps in education, giving children experiencing homelessness a fighting chance at a stable life—School on Wheels. Their approach may seem modest: tutor a child for one hour per week. However, the impact on that child’s life is incalculable—it provides these children with the structure and consistency they need. That hour reiterates to them that they aren’t forgotten, that they do matter, and that they can change their circumstances.

And once a child believes in themselves, the hope and optimism they carry is truly inspirational. In January 2018 a student of mine was struck in the crossfire of a drive-by. In the weeks following, I recall trying to be sympathetic to his condition by telling him we could just play games until he felt better. Knowing he had the SATs coming up, he responded, “Games won’t get me into college. We’ll work on math sections.” To contextualize things, this was a student who, not even a year prior, would constantly vocalize that he might as well “pick out a box to live in now” because he felt he had no chance of attending college. It was at that precise moment that I realized how much of an impact that hour a week can have on the self-esteem of a child in need.

School on Wheels is the only non-profit organization in Southern California that focuses on the education of children experiencing homelessness. As such, its’ success, as well as the success of the children it serves, is directly related to its number of volunteers. Sadly, that number is often limited by people’s misconceptions on whether they’re “qualified” to volunteer. In reality, the only obstacle is a person’s willingness to volunteer. 

Regardless of your age, background or level of education, your mere presence in a child’s life can be transformative. They will never forget that someone cared enough to show up once a week during the most turbulent time of their lives. Get started today.

Nov 28

Whether home is a van, a motel or a garage, L.A.’s suburban poor children learn to survive

Thousands of families experience homelessness on any given night in America, leaving many children stricken by the grief of instability and unpredictability. There is a saying in Skid Row, “homeless but not hopeless.” But where does your hope come from if you’re the mother of four young, energetic children crammed in a motel room suitable for one or two people? How do you survive days when your kids go to bed hungry? Where does your hope come from when you’re an 8-year-old child whose only concept of home includes a revolving door?

A recent four-part series by Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez on child poverty, especially as it relates to education, provides a painfully clear window into the lives of these children. The short film that starts the series is especially powerful, and a must watch for anyone who wants to understand the daily stress and trauma these children face.

I wish we lived in an America where homelessness didn’t exist; where kids could go to school without worrying about where they will sleep at night or if they will have enough food; where kids wouldn’t take on the burdens of adulthood. An America where kids could be kids – laughing, running, jumping, learning – the way they were meant to be.

So what can we do? We can start by speaking up, advocating for change, and accepting nothing less. Our friends need us, and we must deliver.

To view/read the full series:

Part 1: Hidden in L.A. suburbia, wrenching poverty preys on children and destroys dreams
Part 2: For the principal with the most homeless students in L.A., the reality of poverty is personal
Part 3: Whether home is a van, a motel or a garage, L.A.’s suburban poor children learn to survive
Part 4: For children trapped in poverty, breaking free is getting harder

Sep 24

A ‘rolling’ school is popular with low-income and homeless children in LA

In a recent interview with Selena Rivera of Hoy our CEO Catherine Meek shared the core mission of School on Wheels and the challenges faced by the students we serve.

Currently more than 345,000 homeless children reside in California, and nearly 65,000 of them are enrolled in Los Angeles County schools. Many of these children live in motels, shelters and even cars.

Due to their unstable economic status, they often change areas, which makes it difficult for them to attend school.

And then how can these children get the education they need?

This is where Schools on Wheels (SOW), in Spanish “Escuelas Rodantes”, take action, says Catherine Meek, executive director of the nonprofit organization.

“They are helped with backpacks, with supplies, they are registered in the schools and if they can not attend, they are given tutoring, but not only that. The main commitment of the organization is to give it hope, “says Meek. Since the recession began in 2007, the numbers of homeless children has increased and the need for more volunteers is critical.

Read the full article at Hoy Los Angeles.

Sep 9

Crisis of Homeless Students in the Los Angeles School District

A recent in-depth article by La Opinión highlights the many challenges faced by the students that School on Wheels serves, right now more than ever.

 In the midst of the housing crisis experienced by thousands of people in Los Angeles County, there are approximately 17,258 students in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) who do not have a permanent home to live in, and 69% of them ( 11,908) belong to families of Latin origin: 5,834 women and 6,073 men.

And, according to the California Homeless Youth Project, as homelessness in the “Golden State” intensifies, the number of homeless children continues to rise. Since 2014, the number of homeless youth in California has increased by 20 percent to more than 202,329. This represents almost 4% of the school population in general.

“Many children live in hotels, cars, shelters or flee from domestic violence and that is why some are not with their parents; sometimes they get delayed with their studies and that’s why tutors come to help them, “said Lisette Gaeta, regional administrator of School on Wheels. “Here we seek to provide stability to homeless students in a time of stress and transition, and we help them achieve educational success so they can break the cycle of homelessness and poverty”.

Read the full article at La Opinión.