Category: Press Releases

Jul 27

“To The Letter” Wins First Place In The CBS Leadership Pipeline Challenge

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

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

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

To The Letter Press Contact:
Maya Alvarez

Jul 6

School on Wheels Appoints Not One But Two New Board Members

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.

Sinead Chilton

Aug 1

School on Wheels Appoints Charles W. Evans, Jr. as New Executive Director

Longtime ED Catherine Meek to serve as Executive Advisor

CONTACT: Sinead Chilton, 213 905 2777

LOS ANGELES—August 1, 2019- Ushering in its next generation of leadership during a critical time in serving children experiencing homelessness, seasoned School on Wheels executive Charles W. Evans Jr. has been appointed as the new Executive Director for School on Wheels (SOW) effective August 1, 2019. Veteran SOW Executive Director Catherine Meek, who was involved in the search committee’s process, will remain with SOW as an executive advisor continuing to work with foundations and donors. The announcement was made by the Board of Directors of School on Wheels who named Evans to his new role.

The homeless crisis in Los Angeles County now impacts over 60,000 homeless public school students, with 17,494 in LAUSD alone. School on Wheels relies on funding from individual donors, major corporations and foundations to fund programs that train and mobilize volunteer tutors to educate and mentor children in homeless situations throughout six counties in Southern California. In 2018 SOW provided tutoring services to over 3,600 children, as well as over 5,500 backpacks filled with school supplies.

Evans begins his new role effective August 1 in full partnership with Meek, who through a transition period will be actively involved in day-to-day operations. Ultimately Meek will focus solely on advising Evans and the Board on fundraising strategies and relations. Meek has worked with School on Wheels since 2000, including roles as a volunteer, regional coordinator, organization consultant, and COO before her election as Executive Director in 2009.

 “Charles has an outstanding track record working with School on Wheels to help and empower children who experience homelessness to succeed academically. He has the passion and experience building and leading teams, creating opportunities, delivering results, and leveraging his creativity to make a positive impact during a time of great urgency for our community and mission,” said Josh Fein, Board President. “We are thrilled that Catherine will continue as a trusted advisor and contributor. The partnership between Charles and Catherine will make the organization stronger and better prepared for the future.”

Stated Meek: “I could not be happier that Charles has been selected as my successor. Charles and I have worked together for more than ten years and we will continue to partner to keep School on Wheels strong, solution-oriented and striving to help as many children experiencing homelessness as possible. Charles has worked and flourished in every position he has held at School on Wheels.  As Executive Director, Charles will lead us to a new level of success in helping and giving hope to our students.  He is exactly the right person at this critical time in our history.”

Evans joined School on Wheels in 2008 as a regional coordinator in South Los Angeles, where he was born and raised. He was subsequently promoted to executive leadership positions, and prior to being named Executive Director served as SOW’s Chief Regional Officer. In this role, he oversaw 11 regions in six counties in Southern California, covering more than 3,600 students and 2,300 volunteers.  As part of the leadership team, Evans serves on the Board Strategic Planning Committee where he contributed to the development and enhancement of SOW’s student outreach program by partnering with several school districts and agencies serving homeless children. Prior to School on Wheels, Evans worked for FAME Renaissance as an Environmental Outreach Field Representative, under the leadership of Reverend Cecil “Chip” Murray.

“I am so honored to have the opportunity of being School on Wheels’ next executive director. Being able to continue to build upon the legacy of Agnes and Catherine is exciting yet humbling,” said Evans. “The last 10 and a half years have been an amazing and inspirational journey, and I look forward to leading School on Wheels into a promising future.” 

About School on Wheels

School on Wheels is a local nonprofit founded in1993 that trains and connects volunteer tutors to children living in shelters, motels, vehicles, group foster homes, and on the streets in Southern California. They are the only organization in Southern California dedicated exclusively to the educational needs of this fragile population. Last year, they tutored over 3,600 kids with the support of over 2,300 volunteers.

The heart of School on Wheels’ programs is the volunteer tutors who come from all backgrounds and professions, with a shared goal – to reach out to a child without a home to teach, to mentor, and to assist in their educational life.

Nov 12

Spinmaster Sharing and Caring Day

LOS ANGELES, Nov. 12, 2018 – Spin Master Corp., a leading global children’s entertainment company, kicked off the season of giving with the first Caring & Sharing Holiday Banquet in Los Angeles. The inaugural event, hosted in partnership with the Shuki & Tori Levy Foundation, involved over 250 children from School on Wheels, a charity that provides tutoring, school supplies and other educational assistance to children experiencing homelessness in Southern California.

Held at Project Evolve Los Angeles, Spin Master employees and volunteers helped each child select two Spin Master toys – one for themselves and another to share with a friend. Children were also treated to a day at the “carnival” with classic games and booths such as ring toss and tattoo art, followed by a luncheon.

“We’re so excited to bring the spirit of giving and holiday cheer to children in Los Angeles this year,” said Ronnen Harary, Spin Master’s Co-Founder, Chairman and Co-CEO. “Our annual Caring & Sharing Holiday Banquet has been a giving tradition for Spin Master employees in Toronto for seven years. With our LA event, we are expanding the positive impact we have on kids during the holidays – seeing the smiles on their faces is the greatest reward.”

Partners for the Los Angeles Caring & Sharing Holiday Banquet, in support of School on Wheels, include the Shuki & Tori Levy Foundation, Project Evolve LA, Magic Jump Rentals, Fresh Brothers & Bart’s Carts, Magician Rich Freeman, Event Medics, and Riz Transportation.

“The School on Wheels program serves as a consistent support system to students at a time of great stress and fear,” said Catherine Meek, Executive Director of School on Wheels. “We bring the message to our students that they are cared about and important. We’re thrilled to be partnering with Spin Master on the first ever Los Angeles Caring & Sharing Holiday Banquet. The event’s caring and sharing theme reflects our core values and allows our students to experience the holiday giving spirit firsthand.”

Spin Master’s 8th Annual Caring & Sharing Holiday Banquet in Toronto will be taking place on December 4th at the Liberty Grand. Globally, Spin Master continues to bring inspiration and the opportunity to learn, grow and play to children living in challenging situations through the Spin Master led global initiative, the Toy Movement.

Jun 20

Separation of Children and Parents

Safety and security don’t just happen. They are the result of collective consensus and public investment. We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear.”
– Nelson Mandela

As a nonprofit dedicated to supporting children experiencing homelessness, we understand the anxiety and trauma families suffer living in homeless shelters, but we cannot begin to imagine the stress and fear children and parents are enduring by being separated and held in tents and detention centers.  

No matter what our opinions are about immigration policy, surely we can all agree that children have no control over their situation. Children are fragile and vulnerable. The impact of separation on them is unconscionable. We can’t unsee images of babies and children being taken from their parents to be used for political reasons. There is no protocol in place for keeping track of parents and children concurrently, for keeping parents and children in contact with each other while they are separated, or for eventually reuniting them. Surely a nation as generous and compassionate as the United States can find a way to prevent separating children from their parents.  

If we are to protect our civility, our values, our worth as a society, we must first protect our children… all of our children.


Catherine Meek
Executive Director


Feb 14

School on Wheels Welcomes New Board Member Ellen Padnos

School on Wheels is happy to announce the appointment of a new Executive Board member. Joining the Board is Ellen Padnos: “I’m thrilled and honored to have a greater role within School on Wheels. I’ve worked with the team for years and am so inspired by them and the incredible work they do.”

Ellen has supported School on Wheels for many years, and with her group, Joyful Giving has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars through their annual fundraising event to benefit School on Wheels.
“We are delighted that Ellen is joining the Board. She has been an integral part of our fundraising team for several years and I know she will continue to use her talents and her passion for our mission to help School on Wheels and our students,” said Catherine Meek, Executive Director

Prior to starting Joyful Giving, Ellen co-founded and was Editor-in-Chief of which she sold with her husband in 2013. Ellen spent her early career working in Sales and Operations at Yahoo in Silicon Valley and for USA Networks in New York.

Ellen currently resides in Manhattan Beach with her young family. She loves what she does and with over 100 active members of Joyful Giving and Joyful Givings Kids (created in 2016) is changing how her community, young and old, finds out and supports local nonprofits, not only financially but through volunteering and activism too.