“The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.” – B.B. King
It’s June and for most teenagers, that means getting ready for prom, graduation ceremonies, a summer of celebration. And for seniors, it means all the anticipation and excitement in preparing for the start of college. It’s not like that for the homeless high school student. For them, there is no SAT exam, no prom, no summer fun. The high school graduation rate for homeless children in California is less than 25%. There are many pressing issues facing our nation, but surely preparing young people for success in life is one of the most critical. Education is the fastest path out of poverty — the only way to achieve a more equal society. That’s why we do what we do.
We work with thousands of children and teens. In this issue, you will read about the success of some of our homeless students; students who, against all odds, find the power within themselves to continue each day, to study and keep focused on learning. They are truly inspirational.
Brianna Audinett, a former School on Wheels student, has not only excelled in school; now she is heading to San Francisco State University. She also represented School on Wheels and homeless children as a member of the World’s Children’s Prize Child Jury. The Child Jury consists of 15 children from all over the world who select the three final laureates for the World’s Children’s Prize.
School on Wheels gives hope and opportunity to graduating seniors through the Catherine McAuley Scholarship Fund. Josephine Bailey-McLein received one of our scholarship awards; she is heading to USC this fall. Allan Valencia, Emily Valencia, and Tatiana Obukhova also received scholarships.
Our wish is to plant the seeds of hope, confidence and knowledge in our students. You, our amazing supporters, help us do that.
When we developed our three-year strategic plan at the end of 2011, we established an ambitious and audacious goal to double the number of students we tutor. And with your help, encouragement and support, we did!
You made last year the best yet for School on Wheels and all our students. 3,129 homeless students in Southern California were tutored by 1,816 volunteers in 2014! We awarded scholarships to 12 outstanding students, presented the prestigious President’s Volunteer Service Award to 167 remarkable volunteers, provided backpacks, schools supplies, uniforms, bus tokens and computers to over 6,000 homeless kids, and you, our kind and very generous friends donated over $1.5 million in gifts.
We can only accomplish this work because of you. With one in every 30 kids homeless in America, we have much to do. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the magnitude of the numbers, but we can’t forget that each of those statistics is a child, a child who is scared and lonely and falling behind in school. You provide a critical benefit to that child, one that literally has the power to change the course of her life. You enrich and make a lasting difference in the lives of thousands of homeless children.
School on Wheels is featured in a Ventura County Star article about a $15,000 grant from the Monsanto Fund earlier this year. Grants like these, along with donations, help us reach more students in more locations.
Terrie Soto, School on Wheels’ Regional Coordinator for Ventura and Santa Barbara counties, said she believes the nonprofit can have far-reaching effects on young people. “I really believe filling in the educational gaps will help them overcome obstacles in life and hopefully break the cycle of homelessness for these children,” Soto said. “And you can tell that everyone involved is doing it to help the homeless children in the community.”
Pechanga Band of Mission Indians recently hosted the 16th annual Pechanga Charity Golf Classic and raised more than $100,000 for the Semper Fi Fund, School on Wheels, Operation SafeHouse, and United Friends of the Children. This donation will help School on Wheels reach more students in the Inland Empire and beyond.
About 15,000 LA school kids are officially homeless, living in a shelter, car, abandoned building or other temporary setup. David Nazar reports on Los Angeles Unified School District’s new program to deal with this shocking problem and talks to school officials, homeless kids and their parents. The segment includes an interview with School on Wheels Program Director, Matt Raab.
Click the image above to go directly to the video.
There are more than 1.6 million homeless children living in the United States, says The National Center on Family Homelessness. That’s one in every 45 American kids who goes to sleep at night without a bed to call their own. This Huffington Post article by Ann Brenoff highlights seven things that you probably didn’t know and also mentions School on Wheels and our Founder, Agnes Stevens.