Frequently Asked Questions

Financials & Donations

You can easily make a donation on our website Your gift is tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.  You will receive a thank-you letter containing your donation amount and a statement saying that it is tax-deductible. Please retain this letter for your records. If you would like to mail a check our address is P O Box 23371, Ventura CA, 93002. Questions? Email us at

School on Wheels is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization supported by funds from generous donors including foundations, corporations, and individuals. We do NOT receive any funding from federal, state or local governments. Review our financial charts.

94% of our annual income goes directly towards supporting students experiencing homelessness with tutors, school supplies, and academic resources. The remaining 6% is used to maintain our three School on Wheel’s office and participate in continued fundraising efforts.

When you make a gift in someone’s honor, we will notify them or their family and let you know once your request has been fulfilled.

We love material donations! Please note that we only accept NEW backpacks and school supplies. Because of our small staff, we prefer donors to drop off or mail supplies to one of our centers. If the donation is large you can coordinate with our staff to arrange pickup. You can also learn more about setting up supply drives here.

While School on Wheels appreciates donated books and school supplies, we only provide our students with brand new supplies. The feeling of new supplies and books provides the boost of confidence our students need for school. **If not new, we still accept book donations if in great condition.


We require our volunteers to complete a three-step process to become a tutor. You can start the process here.
1. Fill out an application and provide two (non-family) character references.
2. Watch our orientation video.
3. Attend a live online tutor training session.
4. Complete a Livescan background check.
5. Complete a phone interview with one of our coordinators.

Once you are matched with your student, your School on Wheels Coordinator will be in regular contact with you to provide assistance and give feedback. Anytime you are unsure about what to do or how to handle a situation you will be able to contact them for help and feedback. Each region also has a number of volunteers working in tutor support roles that you will be able to reach out to. In addition, we provide lesson plans and resources for you to use with your student.

Once you have completed your application process and have been approved as a School on Wheels tutor, your coordinator will be in touch with you to set up your first tutoring session. You will meet with your student once a week after that first session.

The majority of tutoring takes place on weekdays between 4-8pm. Additionally, there are some possibilities for tutoring on the weekends, typically Saturday mornings or early afternoons.

Due to COVID-19, all tutoring currently takes place online. Tutors are not allowed to go visit their students in person.

Once you have completed the full application process we will match you with a student based on your skills, preferred age range, and availability, among other factors.

At this time, due to both logistical and security requirements, we are only accepting tutors who are over 18 years of age. We thank you for your understanding.

Join our mailing list! School on Wheels appreciates volunteer support for community organizing, Day of Service events, and other ways to support our students! If you wish to work directly with our students, you must complete the volunteer application process in full.

Contrary to popular belief, the government does not keep a file of everyone’s fingerprints. Only fingerprints of people who have been arrested, or persons working in highly sensitive employment positions are on file in FBI and state computers. Once a person is fingerprinted for a background check, the fingerprint data is not stored. Therefore, if you apply to tutor, the Live Scan process must be completed again. Please note that School on Wheels does not share your results with any other agency.

There are varying opportunities per region for extracurricular activities to be planned through the regional coordinator. To get in contact with your local coordinator, send an email request to Great times to schedule these activities are during holiday breaks or summer!

If you know you will be gone for more than two weeks in a row, please inform your student directly, as well as your School on Wheels Coordinator. If you are able, you can also consider continuing your sessions while you are away through remote online tutoring. Your coordinator will help you and your student set up the remote sessions.

When your student moves, please contact your School on Wheels Coordinator to discuss the situation. Depending on the circumstances, it may be necessary to match you with a new student.

Yes! While we only require one hour per week commitment, you are more than welcome to tutor as often as you and your student’s schedule allows. Please double check with the parent or guardian regarding extra hours.

Yes, but we ask you to restrict any gift-giving to special occasions such as birthdays, holidays, or graduation. Expensive gifts are discouraged. This applies to any gifts you wish to give parents, as well. Please check with both the shelter and parent for any restrictions regarding gift giving. 

Due to COVID-19, tutors are not allowed to deliver any physical items to their students.

Logging your hours is an essential part of being a School on Wheels tutor. It is important for safety reasons and legal reasons. If you forget to log your hours, we have no written record that you and the student met, and no proof that the student is receiving tutoring. We send out reminder emails to tutors if they forget to log their hours for a certain number of days. Not logging your hours for a certain number of sessions will result in your termination as a School on Wheels tutor.

Our Students

Our students are children who live in shelters, motels, vehicles, on the street and in group foster homes. We tutor children from kindergarten through twelfth grade. The average age of our students is 8 years old.

Typically, our students are with one or two parents. The exception to this is children and youth in group foster homes.

Typically yes, although over 30% of kids and teens experiencing homelessness are not enrolled in school. We offer families assistance in quickly enrolling their children in school.

In 2021, we provided one-on-one weekly tutoring services to over 1,500 students throughout Southern California. Over the past 29 years, we have served more than 50,000 students experiencing homelessness.

No. Our volunteers are our wheels; they bring education to wherever our students are, be it a homeless shelter, a group foster home, a library, or an after-school club.

No, but there are affiliated organizations in both Indianapolis and Massachusetts. Our current focus is providing a tutor to every child and teenager experiencing homelessness in Southern California. Volunteers in any state can also tutor our students online via video/audio chat. We have volunteer online tutors from 25 states and territories in the United States who tutor students in our program here in Southern California.

School on Wheels tutors in over 400 locations throughout Southern California. View our tutoring locations.

Located in the neighborhood with the highest concentration of homelessness in the U.S., our Skid Row Learning Center offers a safe and fun learning environment where students experiencing homelessness can access support after school. The center is open six days a week year-round and includes a digital learning center, academic lessons, and a summer program to mitigate the documented loss of learning that students suffer during long school breaks.

All our coordinators are mandated reporters. However, families experiencing homelessness are not synonymous with children being abused. The families we work with are experiencing homelessness for many and varied reasons, the most common being unaffordable housing. Our students’ parents are actively working to find permanent housing. Our focus is to support our students in their academic success, which is a key factor in breaking the cycle of homelessness.

In addition to academic support and school supplies, School on Wheels also provides scholarship opportunities for students who have been in our program for more than three months. Our coordinators have access to a database of location-specific resource agencies if families ask for additional support outside of academia. Publicly available resource databases we are aware of are listed at

Yes, we have hundreds! Each time we match a student and a tutor, we consider that a success. When our students can meet regularly with a positive adult role model, they have a greater chance to succeed. Read about our Students of the Month.

Click here to find the latest statistics on homelessness, as well as resources and websites that will help you understand the problem of homelessness in America.

Children and parents may hear about School on Wheels from a teacher, counselor, the shelter where they are staying, from other families experiencing homelessness, or because of our outreach program. All students and their parents or guardians choose to be in our program. Families or referral partners can fill out our online referral form here.

School on Wheels defines homelessness as students living in shelters, motels, vehicles, on the street or in group foster homes. While our services don’t cover families that are doubled up, renting rooms or low-income housed families, our coordinators can share other tutoring resources in local communities.

We receive student referrals from shelter staff, group home staff, and community partners that work with students experiencing homelessness. We also work directly will families living in motels, cars, and on the streets. Before working with a student, we collect the following information: name, birthdate, grade level, location, contact information and areas of academic need.

Yes! We offer scholarships to students that have been in our program for more than three months. The awarded funds can be used towards activities that our students might not have the opportunity to do because of their situation such as dance classes, music lessons, or karate! Scholarship applications include student transcripts, a breakdown of the program cost, letters of recommendation, and an essay (length is grade dependent).

When our coordinators first contact shelter staff or family about a student’s academic needs, we ask what types of school supplies students need! At the initial tutoring session, students will receive any new school supplies they need inside a brand new backpack. During the course of tutoring, students can ask their tutor for new supplies at any time.

If your student moves to permanent housing, you are allowed to continue tutoring them for either four months or the end of the school semester (whichever is longer). You are not allowed to tutor them in their house, so your coordinator will help find a public tutoring location nearby. After this extension has ended, we ask that you allow us to match you with a new student who needs your support the way your old student did.