Our Mission and History

Oprah Winfrey Network – Original Shorts: Agnes

School on Wheels, Inc. is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1993 by Agnes Stevens, a retired teacher. After reading Jonathan Kozol’s Rachel and her Children, Agnes realized the extent of homelessness in the USA. She began tutoring homeless kids in a park in Santa Monica, encouraging them to stay in school and participate in school activities.

Today, hundreds of volunteers work one-on-one with children whose homelessness prevents them from getting the academic stability and help they desperately need. The heart of School on Wheels’ programs is the volunteer tutors who come from all backgrounds and professions, with a shared goal – to reach out to a child, to teach, to mentor, and assist in their educational life.

The mission of School on Wheels 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. We do this by offering:

    • One-on-one weekly tutoring with a volunteer
    • Backpacks, school supplies and school uniforms
    • A toll-free number for kids to keep in touch with us
    • Assistance in entering school
    • Help in locating lost records
    • Guidance for parents in educational matters for their children
    • A Learning Center located in the heart of Skid Row
    • Tutoring in six major counties in Southern California: Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, Santa Barbara and Ventura

Core Values

Our core values represent what we believe in, what we stand for, and how we approach everything we do. They are important in how we treat each other, our students, volunteers, donors, partners, and and the communities we serve. Our values serve as both a description of what we already share and an aspiration for what School on Wheels continues to strive for. We measure our success by how well we live up to them.

    • Passion
    • Integrity
    • Respect
    • Innovation
    • Flexibility/Adaptability
    • Trust
    • Teamwork

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