Financials & Donations
How do I make a donation to School on Wheels? Is it tax-deductible?
You can easily make a donation on our website https://schoolonwheels.org/donate/. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Where does School on Wheels funding come from?
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.
Where does the donation money go?
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.
How do I make a donation in honor or memory of someone, and let them or their family know?
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.
How can I donate new backpacks, school supplies, books or other items? Will School on Wheels pick up my donation?
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 your local School on Wheels Coordinator to arrange pickup. You can also learn more about setting up supply drives here.
I have a lot of old books, school supplies, etc.. Can I give them to School on Wheels?
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.
What is the process to volunteer with you?
We require our volunteers to complete a three-step process to become a tutor. You can start the process here.
1. Watch a brief, online orientation, followed by the online application form & training video.
2. Complete a phone interview with one of our coordinators. Your coordinator will contact you once you have registered for the in-person tutor training.
3. Attend an in-person, tutor training, where you can also complete a required Livescan background check. Once we receive your background check results and recommendations from your references, you will be approved as a volunteer!
What kind of support can I expect from School on Wheels as a volunteer tutor?
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.
When does tutoring take place?
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.
Where does tutoring take place?
Tutoring sessions always take place in a public space; within eyesight and earshot of another adult. Most shelters and group homes have designated tutoring areas onsite, however, we also arrange tutoring sessions at public libraries, coffee shops, or locations convenient for the family.
How will I be matched with a child?
Once you have completed the application process (attended an online orientation, in-person, tutor training, completed a Livescan and we have received your references) we will match you with a student based on your location, preferred grade, preferred tutoring day/time.
Can my son or daughter become a School on Wheels tutor?
We encourage children twelve years and older to join their parent(s) to tutor. A parent or guardian must accompany the child to each tutoring session and he/she must sign in at the time of the tutoring session. Your Coordinator will arrange the student match. Please note that your child does not need to be fingerprinted. If your son or daughter is sixteen to eighteen years of age, and working towards high school graduation, with a grade point average of 3.0 or higher, they can apply online to be an individual tutor.
I live in XX (city, neighborhood, etc.), do you have students there?
We work with partnered shelters & group homes in Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, and Orange Counties. Each area has a different coordinator that can find the closest volunteer opportunities near you.
I want to volunteer but I can’t commit a full year, how can I help you guys?
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.
Why do I need to be fingerprinted for School on Wheels when I completed the process for another organization?
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.
I want to do an art/coding/music class with your students, who can I contact?
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 email@example.com. Great times to schedule these activities are during holiday breaks or summer!
Am I allowed to take my student on a field trip?
Yes, field trips are allowed. Tutors who have been meeting with their students for more than three months can take them on field trips, though they must do so with at least one other tutor and student. Even if you are not driving your student to the location (i.e. meeting up at the field trip site), there should be at least one other tutor and student present. Talk to your Coordinator about how best to arrange this. A child is not allowed to leave the shelter until all necessary paperwork has been completed.
What if I need to take a vacation and cannot meet my student?
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.
What happens if my student moves?
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.
Am I able to tutor more than one hour per week?
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.
My student is doing exceptionally well and I would like to reward them with a gift. Is this allowed?
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.
Can I give my student clothing/toys? My child has grown out of theirs and I would just be donating them otherwise.
We ask that anything you give your student be restricted to school supplies that they currently need or small gifts for special occasions. It is important that tutors maintain professional boundaries and remain within the scope of their position. If you wish to donate clothing or toys to the shelter your student is staying at, please go through shelter staff. It is always best to check in with your Coordinator–they will know how/where your donatable items can be put to good use.
Can I take my student for a walk during a tutoring session to help them get extra energy out?
No. It is very important that you remain in your designated tutoring area during sessions, within earshot and view of shelter staff, other tutors, or your student’s parent (depending on the situation). There are plenty of ways to help students get extra energy out without changing location (jumping jacks, educational puzzles that use the physical space, and so on). If your student is being very disruptive in a public place (library, Starbucks, etc.) you can walk outside with your student and their parent or guardian until they settle down. If you do, please note it when you log your hours.
What happens if I forget to log my hours?
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.
Can I do the training online/leave the in-person training early?
No. We understand that fitting in a three-hour in-person training can be difficult for certain schedules, but it is very important that you attend an in-person training prior to tutoring our students. If you need to leave for unexpected reasons halfway through an in-person training, you will be allowed to attend the second half of another training.
Who are your 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.
Are your students with their families or homeless alone?
Typically, our students are with one or two parents. The exception to this is children and youth in group foster homes.
Do your students attend regular public school?
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.
How many students do you tutor?
In 2018, we provided weekly tutoring services to over 3,624 students throughout Southern California. Over the past 26 years, we have served more than 50,000 students experiencing homelessness.
Do you have a school bus?
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.
Is School on Wheels nationwide?
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.
How many children are homeless in Los Angeles?
Los Angeles has the highest chronic homeless population in the nation. One third of all homeless people are children, under the age of 18. In Los Angeles County there are 65,484 students without homes. However In the counties where School on Wheels currently provides tutoring and mentoring services, 163,400 students have been identified as living in homeless situations by their school districts.
What is the Skid Row Learning Center?
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.
If they’re living on the street, shouldn’t CPS get involved?
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.
What else do you do to help the families? Don’t they need food and clothing and therapy?
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. Publically available resource databases we are aware of are listed at schoolonwheels.org/community-resources.
Do you have any success stories?
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.
Where can I find out more information about homelessness?
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.
How do families hear and enroll about your program?
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.
I know a boy who has special needs and his family is sleeping in a spare garage. Can you get a tutor for him?
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.
What information is needed to register a student with our services?
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.
Does School on Wheels offer scholarships for students?
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).
How do the students receive their free school supplies?
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.
What happens if permanent housing is secured? Can tutoring continue?
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.