School on Wheels

When I write these reviews, I often write of charities I know about or have been recommended to me.  But in light of the upcoming start of school, I wanted to focus on charities related to school and education.  I found three related organizations – all called School on Wheels – in three very different parts of the country and I was amazed.  Let me tell you about these organizations.

School on Wheels are three organizations focusing on educational challenges experienced by homeless children.  The California organization is the oldest of the three, and the most well established.  They have hundreds of volunteers providing one-on-one tutoring, school supplies, assistance in locating lost school records, assistance completing school admission forms, scholarships and so much more.  Their mission, “is to enhance educational opportunities for homeless children from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Our goal is to shrink the gaps in their education and provide them with the highest level of education possible. Our program serves as a consistent support system to homeless students at a time of great stress and fear. We bring the message to our students that they are cared about and important.”[1]

The significantly smaller School on Wheels in Indiana reported 7,972 hours of tutoring in the 2015-16 school year by 462 volunteer tutors in 99 schools. In addition, they distributed 528 complete school uniforms to students in need.  Their success rate is amazing!  96% of students in the program maintained (did not fall further behind) or increased by at least 1 grade in at least 1 subject.[2]

Massachusetts School on Wheels blew me away with the information they provided on their website.  Did you know that, “the average age of a homeless person in Massachusetts is 8 years old[3]?!  Eight! Children! Homeless through no fault of their own.  What’s more, there are 37,000 of these children enrolled in public school, of those 13,000 are high school level.  Want to know how bad it gets?  Of those 13,000, only 3,250 will graduate[4].  COLLEGE graduates are struggling to find jobs.  What hope does a high school drop out stand?

92% of the funds raised by School on Wheels in California goes directly to programs and services.  Administrative expenses are only 4.9% of income.

Indiana’s numbers were not quite as high, but the program generates smaller revenues, so there is logic for a greater need for administrative funds.  For 2015-16, they reported 68% of their funds went to programs while another 24% went to fundraising.  One might not like to think their money goes to paying for “getting more money”, but it is the revenues garnered through these events that keep the program going.  It is a necessary evil.  On a very positive note, only 8% of their funds were spent on administrative costs.[5]

This type of information is not available on the organization in Massachusetts, but I hope, by their association with School on Wheels in California, they are following that model and providing a lean yet valuable service.  What information is available about School on Wheels of Massachusetts is that since their inception in the basement of the founder in 2004, they have launched 30 tutorial sites, have trained and deployed 1,900 tutors to serve 2,500 students.  Their efforts to raise money for their mission has resulted in the filling and distributing of more than 10,000 fully stocked backpacks.  And to show their efforts have paid off, 35 of their students are now attending college.[6]

These people give me chills – and make me wonder what more I should be doing.  Please, support our children through these groups.  These three organizations are doing amazing work and they need our help.

 

To learn more about School on Wheels or to support these organizations, go to:

California:  https://www.schoolonwheels.org/

Indiana:  http://www.indyschoolonwheels.org

Massachusetts: http://www.sowma.org/

 

Additional information may be obtained at:

Charity Navigator:

California: https://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=11805

Indiana: https://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.profile&ein=352151003

Massachusetts: https://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.profile&ein=201020880

Guidestar:

California: https://www.guidestar.org/profile/95-4422640

Indiana: https://www.guidestar.org/profile/35-2151003

Massachusetts: https://www.guidestar.org/profile/20-1020880


[1] https://www.schoolonwheels.org/about-us/#our-mission

[2] https://issuu.com/indysow/docs/ar_15-16_online

[3] http://www.sowma.org/

[4] http://www.sowma.org/

[5] https://issuu.com/indysow/docs/ar_15-16_online

[6] http://www.sowma.org/about-us/our-history.  Data accurate as of 7/20/2017