Read about the resiliency of the Class of 2021. Congratulations to all our amazing graduating seniors…
Adam Creighton University, Marine Biology
Adam was doing okay in school and knew he wanted to go to college—but living in a motel with his family was taking its toll on his motivation and confidence. He was matched with a mother/daughter tutoring duo who helped him prepare for the PSAT with new learning strategies and a new perspective (his final score was 1450!) Adam says his time with School on Wheels helped him realize he can do anything he sets his mind to, regardless of his situation.
Hernan California State University Fullerton, Biological Science
Hernan will be the first in his family to attend college. His dream is to become a physician specializing in primary care. Before he met his tutor he was failing classes and did not see college in his future. Hernan says it is a great feeling to have accomplished so much and that his life is much different today than when he first met his tutor four years ago.
Mark California State University, Fullerton
Mark plans to become a family therapist after college. When he first started tutoring with School on Wheels he was more concerned about where his family was going to sleep each night than his D’s and F’s in school. He credits his tutor Theresa with improving his self-confidence and says she taught him that school was key to being successful and to never stop dreaming!
Jenin California State University, Northridge, Speech and Language Pathology
Jenin needed help with her college applications and her tutor Jay Lee turned up at exactly the right time. She was feeling alone and disconnected from school but with his support she began to think outside of the box and aimed higher. She thinks School on Wheels is a great program for kids in her situation and says that one person can impact your life in ways you never imagined.
Angel Plans to attend nursing school
“Don’t give up” is the mantra Angel learned from her School on Wheels tutor, Wisdom (what a great name for a tutor!). She says that his patience was the key to helping her understand math and she calls Wisdom a ‘Super Tutor’.
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
Learn about the education rights of foster youth and youth experiencing homelessness, and how to advocate for these rights during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in light of nationwide school closures.
About the Presenter: Jill Rowland is the Education Program Director at the Alliance for Children’s Rights. Jill is an expert in every area of education impacting foster youth, including early intervention, special education, general education, school discipline, and interrupting the school-to-prison pipeline. Jill has grown the Alliance’s Education Program in response to client needs: from pioneering legal representation for early intervention services to addressing the unique trauma-related education needs of foster youth. Her approach led to the creation of the Foster Youth Education Toolkit and its Court Companion, the training of thousands of school district and foster/probation system personnel (including social workers, probation officers, attorneys, and judges), and multiple school districts adopting improved foster youth policies. Jill is passionate about providing foster and probation youth with an equitable education so they can succeed in life. She earned her JD at UCLA School of Law, specializing in Critical Race Studies. She majored in Communications and Sociology at UCSB.
Guest post by School on Wheels Ambassador Victor Maldonado
There are enough children without homes in Los Angeles to fill Dodger Stadium. Yet, when we think of homelessness, children aren’t who we typically imagine. With over 65,000 students without homes in Los Angeles County alone, why does child homelessness go so grossly unnoticed? The answer is simple: out of sight, out of mind. These are children who are living in shelters, motels, group foster homes, vehicles, and on the streets. The common thread that connects these children is a lack of consistent education.
I am proud to volunteer with an organization that bridges these gaps in education, giving children experiencing homelessness a fighting chance at a stable life—School on Wheels. Their approach may seem modest: tutor a child for one hour per week. However, the impact on that child’s life is incalculable—it provides these children with the structure and consistency they need. That hour reiterates to them that they aren’t forgotten, that they do matter, and that they can change their circumstances.
And once a child believes in themselves, the hope and optimism they carry is truly inspirational. In January 2018 a student of mine was struck in the crossfire of a drive-by. In the weeks following, I recall trying to be sympathetic to his condition by telling him we could just play games until he felt better. Knowing he had the SATs coming up, he responded, “Games won’t get me into college. We’ll work on math sections.” To contextualize things, this was a student who, not even a year prior, would constantly vocalize that he might as well “pick out a box to live in now” because he felt he had no chance of attending college. It was at that precise moment that I realized how much of an impact that hour a week can have on the self-esteem of a child in need.
School on Wheels is the only non-profit organization in Southern California that focuses on the education of children experiencing homelessness. As such, its’ success, as well as the success of the children it serves, is directly related to its number of volunteers. Sadly, that number is often limited by people’s misconceptions on whether they’re “qualified” to volunteer. In reality, the only obstacle is a person’s willingness to volunteer.
Regardless of your age, background or level of education, your mere presence in a child’s life can be transformative. They will never forget that someone cared enough to show up once a week during the most turbulent time of their lives. Get started today.
NBC4 and Telemundo 52 Los Angeles have launched the return of Supporting Our Schools donation drive from July 11-19. The stations are teaming up with Ralphs and Food 4 Less to provide homeless students in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura Counties with essential school supplies they need before school starts in the fall.
The public is invited to make a $1 or more donation at check-out when shopping at their local Ralphs and Food 4 Less supermarket – visit Ralphs.comand Food4Less.com to find a location near you. All proceeds will go to support School on Wheels!