2011 was our best year yet. We touched the lives of 6,480 homeless students inSouthern California and raised a record $1,327,470. This could not have happenedwithout you. We are honored to have an amazing group of partners, friends andsupporters who care deeply about the education of homeless children. It is my greatpleasure to share with you some of the outstanding results we achieved last year and toreview our new strategic plan for the next three years.For the past nineteen years, since Agnes Stevens founded it in 1993, School on Wheelshas worked tirelessly to reduce the gaps in the educational opportunities for homelesschildren in Southern California from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Student bystudent, child by child, we have succeeded in this goal with the help of thousands ofpeople like you – donors, volunteers, staff, supporters, friends and families. We areproud of the work we’ve done and know we have made a difference. We also know thatwe must do more.Today, more and more children are falling through the cracks. Public education nolonger serves all children equally. The devastating effects of the economic downturn areall around us - cuts in education budgets, teacher layoffs, increased levels of poverty,hundreds of thousands of children with no home – and our federal and state system ofsocial services is increasingly unable to keep up with the need. The number of childrenliving in homeless situations throughout Southern California is astonishing and shocking.If we are to help students achieve their true potential and close the achievement gap, wemust make a greater impact. And so, in the next three years, our plan is to double thenumber of students we tutor, tutor them better and prepare them for a world wheretechnology is an inevitable part of the education process.We look forward to your support and friendship on this journey. We will need it. Asalways, I welcome any ideas and suggestions you may have that will assist our studentsand our organization achieve our new strategy and our mission.
Catherine Meek, Executive Director
With your amazing generosity, we increased our support by 25% in 2011, with a record increase of 30% in financial contributions and 11% in material donations. Our expenses increased by 15%, with almost all of that increase resulting from improvements to our program services.
In 2011, we received the generous support of foundations and longtime contributors like the Weingart Foundation and the S. Mark Taper Foundation; the Ralph M. Parsons Foundation helped us establish our new Learning Center in skid row; so too did the Mark Hughes Foundation (and has funded us so generously for the last seven years); the Discover a Star Foundation, the Green Foundation, the Joseph Drown Foundation, and the Amgen Foundation generously supported us with substantial funding and wonderful employee volunteers.“The Amgen Foundation is proud to support School on Wheels which provides vital education and mentoring services to children in our communities. We are also grateful to our staff who generously donate their time and energy to this important initiative.” Jeanette Schulz , Senior Manager, Corporate Contributions, Amgen Foundation
“Universal Studios Hollywood is proud to support the critical work that School on Wheels provides to our local community. School on Wheels is definitely a favorite among Universal employee volunteers as they appreciate the impact that this organization has on children by giving them the encouragement and support they need to not only stay in school but to strive for higher education.” Dorothea Scattaglia, Executive Director, Universal Studios Hollywood’s Discover A Star FoundationWe are honored to be supported by many family foundations and old friends like the Sawchuk Family Foundation, the Shrontz Family Foundation, Jasmine and Jackson George, Jack and Barbara Keogh, and the Looker Foundation, and new friends like the Riseman Foundation and the Louis and Harold Price Foundation. Steve Edwards of Good Day L.A. fame created a first by raising and matching funds for us using his Facebook page. Bob Morris and his amazing family and staff at the Paradise Cove Beach Café once again hosted the best holiday party for over 200 of our students, with the help of Steve Dahlberg and the California Highway Patrol. Third Street Elementary School, Hike It Up, Michael and Ellen Opell and Temple Judea provided brand new backpacks filled with great school supplies and Henry and Andrea Burroughs bought healthy snacks for our students in skid row every month. A special thank you to our wonderful friends at the Good News Foundation who continue to support us with their good news, great parties and cool computers.A complete listing of our generous donors can be viewed on our web site at www.schoolonwheels.org/aboutus/friends .
In 2011, 1,500 volunteers tutored 1,538 children in over 150 locations. Every week, our dedicated tutors give of themselves and their time going to a shelter or a library or a book store to help their students learn to read, complete their homework, write essays, and provide friendship and encouragement to learn. They are truly making a difference with their efforts.“When we heard about School on Wheels, Steve and I just knew we wanted to do this together -- to work with kids who needed that extra bit of stability and consistent support in their lives. We were matched with brothers Jaden and Mekhi and we’ve joyfully watched both boys mature as we meet with them each week. Our time given seems minimal, but the investment has proven worth so much more. I tell everyone about School on Wheels -- it’s so easy to give an hour a week and the time seems to multiply in intangible rewards. It’s just part of who we are now.” Laurie and Steve Hagberg, Tutors
“School on Wheels gave me hope when I had none. Whenever I was struggling in my classes, I always hada School on Wheels tutor that I knew I could count on. This program has played a major role in my successand for that, I am grateful.” Kaleef Starks, scholarship award recipient, now attending UCLA
Our new strategic plan is built on our past experiences and successes. We understand the difficulties and complexities of reducing the educational gaps of homeless students. We want to use that knowledge to create a stronger and more hopeful future for our students. Specifically, by the end of 2014, we will:
These are ambitious goals, as we believe they must be – we are the only organization in California that focuses on the education gaps of homeless students. We hope that you will be both motivated and inspired to support our efforts in helping our students achieve real success in school.
“The great thinkers, innovators, and leaders of the past and present have many discernible characteristics that set them apart from their peers. Besides possessing determination, diligence, and a thirst for knowledge, they had a natural tendency to think outside of the boundaries of what was then conceivable. It was a delightful surprise to have stumbled into such a person, and is an honor to tutor her. Ebony is a freshman in high school, but her ideas, confidence, and perspective surpass her age and environment. (Ebony lives in a homeless shelter in SouthLos Angeles with her mom.)” Samantha Castro, Tutor
“School on Wheels gave me hope when I had none. Whenever I was struggling in my classes, I always had a School on Wheels tutor that I knew I could count on. This program has played a major role in my success and for that, I am grateful.” -Kaleef StarksSchool on Wheels awards scholarships every year. Here are some of our most recent recipients.
Raven WilliamsRaven’s desire to help others who have experienced trauma will serve her well when she attends San Jose State to study mental health and child psychology. Raven was delighted to speak with us when we asked her to share her thoughts on School on Wheels, graduation, and more:How did you find the motivation within yourself to graduate from high school?My motivation came from being around other women in the shelter. Everyone had a dream at one point, but they just gave up. I knew I had to succeed for them and for myself.How important has it been for you to have a School on Wheels tutor in your life?When I first met Anna, I didn’t think there was much we could do. I was almost a year behind in credits, but we made a plan together. Anna called and emailed me all the time to make sure I was staying on track. I really needed that because my mom was too busy trying to get us out of the shelter. Anna was the only one there for me.If you could send a message to the younger generation of homeless children, what would it be?Despite what you see around you, believe in the impossible. I want to go to medical school someday, and around here, that seems impossible. But even if I don’t make it all the way to medical school, I know I will go far.Anna Chow, Raven’s tutor, shares positive words about her exceptional student:“Raven has been through a lot of instability with her family and has experienced homelessness. At such a young age, the hardships that Raven has endured have caused her to stay strong; she is determined not to let her past predict her future.”
Kaleef StarksDespite a background of homelessness, abuse, and neglect, Kaleef has “overcome daunting circumstances” and earned a place at UCLA, where he will begin studying communications this fall.Here is an excerpt from Kaleef’s powerful scholarship essay:“Ever since I can remember, my father was very abusive towards me. He used whatever was in his reach to hurt me…I then moved to Pasadena with my mother, who was also physically abusive….We did not have running water, sufficient clothing, or food. Throughout this ordeal, I managed to attend school daily and strive for success.No matter what challenges I faced, I have persevered and made sure that my education remained a priority. My financial situation has impacted my desire for an education. I’ve always known that education is the hand that will unveil the positive and thriving life to which I was blinded, and, up until now, denied.”Kaleef’s tutor, Mark Cermak, describes his dedicated student:“Kaleef is very smart, but more importantly, he is extremely hardworking and driven…The sky is truly the limit for him.”
April GonzalezApril, who succeeded in getting her grades up from D’s to A’s, will go to the Skills of Leadership camp at CSU Northridge this summer. Sandra Gonzalez, April’s mother, shares her feelings about her daughter’s achievements:“My daughter has had to cope with more difficulties than a normal little girl. This affected her academically, even when she was trying hard. Just at that time, Norah came in as her School on Wheels tutor. April noticed Norah’s willingness to help her. With April’s dedication and Norah’s help, my daughter’s grades improved and she was recognized for her accomplishments.”Norah Lally, April’s Tutor, describes her student’s remarkable journey:“…I have witnessed a beautiful change in April…With the help of the therapists at the shelter, some caring teachers, her mother’s loving support, and my steady encouragement, April bravely came out of her shell and has begun to excel at a level beyond anyone’s expectations.”April tells her story in her own words in an excerpt from her scholarship essay:“Ever since I was a little girl, and for many years, my family has had some big problems. Last year when we were in the shelter, I discovered very angry feelings in me. I had the choice of moving on or staying sad and quitting. I decided that I wanted to try to move on. Whenever I was sad, I kept thinking about what I had in me. The answer is—I can do it!”
2010 Annual ReportWhat is more important for a child than learning? Our mission at School on Wheels is to help children learn. Not just any children; children without a home. Can you imagine how hard it is to learn when you don’t have a home? The statistics stacked against homeless students are staggering: they are nine times more likely to repeat a grade; four times more likely to drop out of school entirely; and 20% do not attend school at all. I forget sometimes how unaware people are, not simply about the existence of homeless children, but the enormity of the issue - 1.6 million homeless children annually in the United States; 292,624 children in California without a home; 56,000 in the school districts that School on Wheels serves from Santa Barbara to Orange Counties - and those are only the ones identified as homeless when enrolling in school each year. These are troubling times, especially for children. The economic crisis has permeated every aspect of what we do as an organization. Education budgets are being slashed, affordable housing – the number one reason for family homelessness in California – is almost non-existent, and the number of homeless families increases daily. More and more children are falling through the cracks and facing hunger, homelessness and abuse. Like most organizations, 2010 was a challenging year for School on Wheels. But we not only met the challenge, we embraced it and surpassed our own goals - we served more students than ever before, raised more money, recruited more volunteers and increased the number of donors. Our team worked hard to achieve these results and we know that we succeeded only because of you, our supporters, our friends, our community. We are deeply, truly grateful.
This report outlines the specific financial and program results we achieved in 2010. At a time when everything can seem overwhelming and hopeless, School on Wheels continues to provide hope to our most vulnerable and forgotten children. These students need our help, they need your help. Together, we can help give them what every child wants and needs: an opportunity to learn. As always, I welcome any ideas and suggestions you may have that will assist our students and our organization achieve our mission of enhancing educational opportunities and shrinking the gaps in the education of homeless children from kindergarten through twelfth grade.
Catherine MeekExecutive Director
2010 Program Results
With your help and generosity, we increased our support by 7.2% in 2010 and continue to develop a diversified funding plan. Our expenses increased by 6.6%, with all of that increase resulting from improvements to our program services.
We are fortunate indeed to have donors who care deeply about homeless children. In 2010, foundations like The Ahmanson Foundation helped fund our new Learning Center in Skid Row; Amgen Foundation generously supported us, both with substantial funding and wonderful employee volunteers; The Mark Hughes Foundation has funded usgenerously and unfailingly for the last six years; NBC Universal Foundation funded not only our Believe, Understand, Succeed program developed for homeless high school youth, but also our Learning Center in Skid Row. We are honored to be supported by many family foundations such as the Sawchuk Family Foundation, the Shrontz Family Foundation, and our friends at the Looker Foundation.Bob Morris and his amazing family and staff at the Paradise Cove Beach Café in Malibu hosted the best holiday party for over 200 of our students, with the help of Steve Dahlberg and the California Highway Patrol. Henry and Andrea Burroughs provided healthy snacks for our students in Skid Row every single month; and, the great band My Morning Jacket gave us proceeds from one of their concerts at the Greek Theater.A complete listing of our generous donors can be viewed on our web site at www.schoolonwheels.org/pages/friends.
Since 1993, School on Wheels has been helping reduce the gap in educational opportunities for homelesschildren from kindergarten through grade 12. In 2010, through our programs, we served over 6,000 homeless children. We are committed to helping more this year.In 2010, 1,501 volunteers tutored 1,400 children. These tutors went every week to a shelter, or a library or a book store to help their students solve math problems, learn to read, complete their homework. They showed them how to use a computer, how to apply to college, and took them on campus tours.“It’s a privilege to serve with School on Wheels. I feel very blessed to be able to spend time with my student Jordan each week. The bond we’re developing is very special. It is an amazing vehicle for giving many kids hope, who may not have had it before.” -Chris Sutherland, Volunteer Tutor, Los Angeles
Other volunteers taught art classes, fixed computers, provided legal services, performed music and poetryrecitals, built databases – in total, we had the privilege of almost 90,000 volunteer hours last year.In July, we opened a beautiful new Learning Center in Skid Row that allows us to serve over 250 students a year from nearby shelters and missions and provides a quiet haven for them to access computersand work with tutors. We expanded our operating hours to include Saturdays so that we can offer classes such as nutrition education, career counseling, and writing workshops. The new Center also provides space for program staff and allows us to train and offer additional workshops to more volunteers.
In 2010, School on Wheels distributed 6,270 brand-new backpacks filled with school supplies. The potential of clean paper and colored pencils is a powerful talisman for a child with so little else in her life.
We facilitated 157 re-enrollments into public schools by helping parents gather needed records such as birth certificates and immunization records, and completed the paperwork needed to get their kids re-enrolled in school – all in one day versus the two weeks it can take them on their own.
We funded 454 school uniforms that many children need in order to be allowed into school or to stay out of detention.
We provided 3,600 bus tokens so that children can get to school and so that their parents have the opportunity to be there with them on their first days.
We awarded three scholarships in 2010 – to a former student at UCLA; to a current student to purchase school books and supplies; and to members of a family to attend a junior lifeguard school.
“School on Wheels is an amazing organization. Thank you for working hard to make volunteering meaningful. Working with the kids has given me the opportunity to grow a lot as a person. Meeting other volunteers makes me feel that people do care. Cheers to making the world a better place!” -Chiaw Yong Pang, Tutor, South LA Learning Center
In 2010, with your help School on Wheels provided support to 6,256 students.
Thank you so much for your generosity and for caring about homeless children in your community.
With the support of over 1,500 volunteer tutors School on Wheels helped students with their number one job as children - learning.
Kellee by Tutor Nayla - I'm so lucky to have the opportunity to tutor Kellee. Kellee is wonderful, smart, funny and kind. She is blessed with a natural love of reading. She picks up new words faster than most adults and is a champion speller. Her vocabulary homework is always fun to read because she is extremely clever in her use of words. She's even reading a novel (no pictures!) in her free time. In the six months I've been tutoring Kellee, we've worked hard on her math skills and completing all her homework. Math is not Kellee's favorite subject, and it isn't mine either, but Kellee is persistent and works hard. She's mastering her times tables and working hard on her division.
For the last three weeks, Kellee has done all of her homework, which earned her some yummy pancakes from IHOP. She's also earned both a trip to the aquarium to learn about the oceans, and a root beer party (with a special visit from the Root Beer Man). I am so proud of Kellee's hard work and good behavior and so lucky to get to know her and her wonderful family.
We are so lucky to have wonderful tutors like Nayla who are commited to their students and want to see them succeed in school.
In 2011 we are hoping to provide support to 6,500 homeless students in Southern California and we hope you will join us in this goal.
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