Katherine Dang, 21, is hoping to help narrow the learning gap by providing tutoring services to students experiencing homelessness in Orange County. Dang, who is from Irvine and attends UC Santa Barbara, started a university chapter of the nonprofit School on Wheels during the last spring quarter.
“A lot of the kids that we work with have experienced a lot of trauma and a lot of movement in their lives,” said Sinéad Chilton, chief development and marketing officer with School on Wheels. “They might have lived in several places, they might have missed school because of that. And typically, they’re behind their peers when it comes to academics.”
“Katherine is just a testament to the willingness of our volunteers to create more advocacy and awareness around students experiencing homelessness,” said Charles Evans, executive director of School on Wheels. “Homeless students are often invisible. Anytime you hear homelessness being talked about, children experiencing homelessness are often left out, which just perpetuates the cycle of homelessness.”
Chilton said the nonprofit currently serves about 1,400 students, including more than 120 in Orange County. They are hoping to serve 2,000 by the end of the year. Read more…
September 30, 2021 – When the pandemic hit, the students in USC’s Community Health Involvement Program (CHIP), like everyone else in the world, had to pivot. CHIP was created with the intention of bringing health justice to the residents of South Los Angeles, and one of its goals is to provide childhood health educational services.
Due to restrictions, in-person volunteering became impossible. They had to get creative. CHIP members came across School On Wheel’s Instagram page and reached out to figure out how they could help.
School On Wheels’s mission is to bridge the educational gap that unhoused students experience—a gap that has been exacerbated by the pandemic. CHIP members set out to develop a series of interactive experiments to help our students learn more about health and science. They created kits to send through the mail for students to conduct with their tutors.
“The main goal of CHIP’s experiment program is to increase young students’ exposure to diverse health topics,” says Rachel Liu, the USC CHIP Head of Experiments. “For each experiment, our CHIP members assembled interactive science kits for each individual student alongside an informational worksheet. We also developed lesson plans and Zoom video recordings to aid the School On Wheels tutors,” she said.
For 2021, CHIP’s experiment program chose four different aspects of health to focus on: oral hygiene, the immune system, heart health, and lung health. “We develop experiments that will teach these important lessons in a fun and interactive way,” Liu said. School On Wheels tutors agree it’s working.
“The students were a lot more engaged because they had something physically in front of them that they could work with,” said Nhi Ha, a tutor who started volunteering with School On Wheels a few years ago. “The lesson plans and instructions were straightforward and clear,” she said.
Nhi reports the younger students liked the worksheets and playing with the supplies while the older students (middle school and above) enjoyed the whole process. “The students felt good having objectives they could focus on and complete in a short period of time,” she added.
One of the stand-out favorites was an interactive kidney experiment. With the help of plastic cups, coffee filters, chalk, and water, the students were able to build a model that demonstrates how the kidneys filter blood to remove toxins. “[It] was a unique way to introduce the function of kidneys to younger students, many of whom probably hadn’t learned about it during their regular classes,” Liu said.
Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic, CHIP is looking forward to the future. “Starting this experiment program during the pandemic definitely put a limit on the amount of “manpower” we could use for assembling and shipping our kits. We’re so excited to continue this partnership with School On Wheels with the help of our general members now that we’re back on campus,” Liu said.
Our students can’t wait to see what new experiments and lesson plans they have in store. School On Wheels is looking forward to continuing this relationship with CHIP and the amazingly creative students who are a part of it.
The first-place prize includes a $10,000 donation to School on Wheels
School on Wheels has announced its animated short film TO THE LETTER has won first place in the CBS Leadership Pipeline Challenge, which includes a $10,000 donation to School on Wheels. The animated short film is now streaming on Youtube and CBS.com.
TO THE LETTER follows a young unhoused student as she attempts to learn how to read. Letters and words escape her into the cloudy darkness of her frustration until her tutor breaks through and braves the storm with her. The film is inspired by the School on Wheels ABC Literacy Program, which is designed to help unhoused students in kindergarten through third-grade catch up to their grade level in literacy and develop a love of reading.
“School on Wheels was thrilled to be chosen as a beneficiary of the Pipeline Challenge. Our team was able to navigate the experience of being a young student facing homelessness with compassion and empathy and really got to the heart of our program,” said Sinead Chilton, Chief Development & Marketing Officer of School on Wheels. “We are thrilled to have won first place and will use the prize money to provide tutoring services to even more kids like Mia, whose education is being impacted negatively due to their homelessness.”
The CBS Leadership Pipeline Challenge was judged by a group of 37 showrunners, directors, agents, managers, and production company executives. The participating films were evaluated using a scoring points scale from 1-10 in each of the following categories: script/writing, direction, casting, acting, cinematography, sound design, production value/design, hair/makeup, alignment with the mission of the non-profit and editing. “I’m blown away by the talent among our inaugural participants, and beyond proud of the cross-company and cross-industry effort that made it possible to empower storytellers at the beginning of their careers and to uplift these important causes,” said Lori Erickson, Vice President of Casting at CBS Studios and Founder of the CBS Leadership Pipeline Challenge. “Congrats to Maya Alvarez and Team School on Wheels on their beautiful film, along with all of the incredible storytellers who accepted the challenge. If this is the future of entertainment, we’re in the best of hands.” “With a team of seven animators across the world, we were able to come together virtually amidst the racial, political and health pandemics in our world and create a story with passion and social impact to honor the students of School on Wheels,” said Nirav Bhakta, Director of TO THE LETTER. “We are so proud that our vision was recognized and we were able to win such a generous donation for School on Wheels.” TO THE LETTER is directed/written by Nirav Bhakta, co-written by David Aguilar, composed by Dhruv Goel, edited by Mario Torres Torres, and produced by Lauren Robinson, Rachel Hanley, and Bhavani Rao, with casting by Maddalena Zuppetta. Maya Alvarez serves as the Executive Producer and Team Lead. The film is animated by Carlos Velez, Megan Lucas, Chris Culpepper, Nguyet Nghi Duong, Rakshit Srivastava, and Chantal Paz. The animation team is led by award-winning animator and VFX artist Chun Chun Chang.
The CBS Leadership Pipeline Challenge was founded by Lori Erickson, Vice President of Casting at CBS Studios. Casting coordinator Lindsey Edge serves as Program Manager.
About the CBS Leadership Pipeline Challenge The CBS Leadership Pipeline Challenge is a social impact-focused short film competition aimed at empowering assistants to step into creative leadership positions. Junior-level employees within CBS Studios and CBS joined forces with early-career storytellers nominated by Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment, National Hispanic Media Coalition, Easterseals Disability Film Challenge and Casting Society Cares Training & Education to create three short films that align with the missions of local nonprofits School on Wheels, SafeBAE and Homeboy Industries in an effort to win donations towards the nonprofits. To learn more about the CBS Leadership Pipeline Challenge, visit CBS.com
About School on Wheels School on Wheels, Inc. is a nonprofit organization founded in 1993 by Agnes Stevens, a retired teacher. Today, hundreds of volunteers work one-on-one with children whose homelessness prevents them from receiving the academic stability and help they desperately need. The mission of School on Wheels is to enhance educational opportunities for homeless children from kindergarten through twelfth grade. The goal is to shrink the gaps in their education and provide them with the highest level of education possible. The program spans six counties in Southern California, including Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara and Ventura, as well as a learning center in Skid Row.
School on Wheels Contact: Sinead Chilton email@example.com
To The Letter Press Contact: Maya Alvarez firstname.lastname@example.org
LOS ANGELES– June 18th 2021 – School on Wheels, a non-profit organization dedicated to tutoring children experiencing homelessness, is happy to announce Jonathan Reid and Janvi Patel are joining its Executive Board of Directors.
Reid is the Senior Program Officer of Grants & Programs for the LA84 Foundation and Patel is an Investment Committee Member for ALIAVIA, Advisor for Equality Now and Children of War Foundation, Co-Founder of Support SEND Kids, and Founding Board Member of Free Periods. “We are so excited and honored to have Janvi Patel and Jonathan Reid join our amazing Board. Their experience and passion is a wonderful addition to School on Wheels and we all look forward to working with them.” – Josh Fein, President of the Board of Directors
Reid and Patel bring diverse expertise and insight to School on Wheels. The two will be joining a team of executive board members dedicated to enhancing the mission of School on Wheels. The organization has worked diligently to ensure that their Board represents a variety of experts that have the passion and dedication to advocate for their students and volunteers. “I am excited to join a team of committed individuals to raise awareness of the amazing work of the School on Wheels staff and volunteers and to share the stories of the youth and their families. I am looking forward to working collaboratively to bring more resources to students experiencing homelessness throughout Southern California.” – Jonathan T. Reid, MPH
“I have been following School on Wheel’s progress for over a decade now, really since I moved to Los Angeles. Their staff and volunteers are really heroes, working with unhoused families to support their amazing children with their educational needs. I am humbled and honored to be joining such an esteemed board and team and I am looking forward to serving the School on Wheels community.” – Janvi Patel
ABOUT SCHOOL ON WHEELS: School on Wheels, Inc. is a nonprofit organization founded in 1993 by Agnes Stevens, a retired teacher. Today, hundreds of volunteers work one-on-one with children whose homelessness prevents them from receiving the academic stability and help they desperately need. The mission of School on Wheels is to enhance educational opportunities for children who are experiencing homelessness from kindergarten through twelfth grade. The goal is to shrink the gaps in their education and provide them with the highest level of education possible. The program spans six counties in Southern California, including Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara and Ventura, as well as a learning center in Skid Row.