Frequently Asked Questions

Donating FAQs

How do I make a donation to School on Wheels?
Simply CLICK HERE to go to the donation form.
To donate by mail, please send check or money order to:

School on Wheels, Inc.
P.O.Box 23371
Ventura, CA 93002

To donate by phone, please call (805) 641-1678.

How do I make a donation in honor or memory of someone, and let them or their family know?
When you make a gift in someone’s honor, we will notify the person in whose honor the gift was made and notify you that your request has been fulfilled. You can access this form here.

How can I donate backpacks, school supplies, books or other items? Will School on Wheels pick up my donation?
We really appreciate material donations but because of our small staff, we are grateful if a donor can drop off or mail supplies to one of our offices. If the donation is large you can coordinate with your local School on Wheels Coordinator to arrange pickup.

How can I get involved in helping to raise funds for School on Wheels in my community?
CLICK HERE to find out the name of the School on Wheels Coordinator in your area. They will discuss with you how you may organize ongoing fundraising activities or explore new ideas with you.

Where does School on Wheels funding come from?
School on Wheels is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization supported by funds from generous donors including foundations, corporations and individuals. We do NOT receive any funding from federal, state or local government. CLICK HERE to review our financial charts.

How is my donation used?
Over 90% of every dollar you give goes directly to making and supporting matches with homeless students and volunteer tutors in Southern California.

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General FAQs

Who are your students?
Our students are homeless children who live in shelters, motels, cars, on the street and in group foster homes. We tutor children from kindergarten through twelfth grade. The average age of our students is 8 years old.

Why do homeless children need our help?
Every time a homeless child moves, he or she fall behind in their studies. Our tutors are there to help students fill in the educational gaps. We believe that education is the key to ending homelessness.  By helping homeless children succeed at their number one job – doing well in school – we can help break the cycle of homelessness and poverty.

Do you have a school bus?
No, our name suggests that we do, but in fact our volunteers are our ‘wheels’. They go wherever the children are, a homeless shelter, group foster home, a library or after-school club.

Are your students with their families or homeless alone?
Typically, our students are with one or two parents.  The exception to this is children and youth in group foster homes.

Do your students attend regular public school?
Yes, although one sad statistic is that over 30% of homeless children are not enrolled in school. One of our services is to help families quickly enroll their children in school.

How many students do you tutor?
In 2013, we provided weekly one-on-one tutoring services to over 2,800 students throughout Southern California.

Is School on Wheels nationwide?
No, but there are affiliated organizations in Indianapolis and Massachusetts. Our current focus is to provide a tutor to every homeless child in California.

Where in California do you tutor?
School on Wheels tutors in over 150 locations throughout Southern California.CLICK HERE to view our tutoring locations.

When does tutoring take place?
The majority of tutoring takes place on weekdays between 4-8pm. Additionally, there are some possibilities for tutoring on the weekends, typically Saturday mornings or early afternoons.

Do you have any success stories?
Yes, we have hundreds. Each time we match a student and a tutor, we consider that a success. By meeting regularly with a positive adult role model, we believe that our students have a greater chance to succeed.  Read about our Students of the Month here.

Where can I find out more information about homelessness?
CLICK HERE to find the latest statistics on homelessness, as well as resources and websites that will help you understand the problem of homelessness in America.

How many children are homeless in the United States?
Approximately 1.6 million children are homeless annually in the United States. (National Center on Family Homelessness)

How many children are homeless in California?
334,131 Cailfornia children experience homelessness each year. (State Report Card on Child Homelessness)

How many children are homeless in Los Angeles?
Over 35,000 homeless students are enrolled in LA County Schools. (Los Angeles Unified School District)

How many children are in foster care in United States?
There are over 400,000 children and youth served in foster care each year in the United States. (Child Trends DataBank)

What percentage of the homeless population are children?
One third of the homeless population are families with children. (The National Center on Family Homelessness)

Volunteering FAQs


How do families hear about your program?
Children and parents may hear about School on Wheels from a teacher, counselor, the shelter where they are staying, from other homeless families or because of our outreach program. All (children) and their parents choose to be in our program.

How do children sign up for your program?
Some families call our toll-free number, some families hear about us from other homeless families or (shelters). We also spend time doing outreach to kids in motels, cars and on the street.

How will I be matched with a child?
Once you have completed the application process (attended an online orientation, in person tutor training, completed a Livescan and we have received your references) we will match you with a student based on your location, preferred grade, preferred tutoring day/time.

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO BE A SCHOOL ON WHEELS TUTOR?


When do I see my student?
Once you have completed your application process and been approved as a School on Wheels tutor, your Coordinator will be in touch with you to set up your first tutoring session. Working with your schedule and age preference, we will match you with a student in your community.

What kind of support can I expect from School on Wheels?
Once you are matched with your student. Your School on Wheels Coordinator will be in regular contact with you to provide assistance and give feedback. Anytime you are unsure about what do or how to handle a situation you will have a School on Wheels Coordinator there to help and feedback on how you are making a difference just by showing up. You will be joining over 700 other volunteers in the School on Wheels family.

What if I need to take a vacation and cannot meet my student?
If you know you will be gone for more than two weeks in a row, please inform your student directly, as well as your School on Wheels Coordinator.

What happens if my student leaves?
When your student leaves, please contact your School on Wheels Coordinator to discuss the situation. Depending on the circumstances of the child, it may be necessary to match you with a new student.

Am I able to tutor more than one hour per week?
Yes! While we only require one hour per week commitment you are more than welcome to tutor as often as you and your student’s schedule allows. Please double check with the student’s parents regarding extra hours

My student is doing exceptionally well and I would like to reward them with a gift. Is this allowed?
Yes, but we ask you to restrict any gifts to special occasions such as birthdays, holidays, graduation. Expensive gifts are discouraged and please check with the shelter and parent for any restrictions regarding gift giving. You can also nominate your student to be our ‘Star of the Month’ where they can receive a special prize from School on Wheels.

Am I allowed to take my student on a field trip?
Yes, field trips are allowed. Tutors who have been meeting with their students for more than three months and wish to take them on field trips, must do so with at least one other tutor and student. Even if you are not transporting (i.e. meeting up at the field trip site), there should be at least one other tutor and student present. Talk to your Coordinator about how best to arrange this. A child is not allowed to leave the shelter until this paperwork has been completed.

Can my son or daughter become a School on Wheels tutor?
We encourage children twelve years and older to join their parent(s) to tutor. A parent or guardian must accompany the child to each tutoring session and he/she must sign in at the time of the tutoring session. Your Coordinator will arrange the student match. Please note that your child does not need to be fingerprinted.

If you son or daughter is sixteen to eighteen years of age, and working towards high school graduation, with a grade point average of 3.0 or higher, they can apply online to be an individual tutor.  

Why do I need to be fingerprinted for School on Wheels when I completed the process for another organization?
Contrary to popular belief, the government does not keep a file of everyone’s fingerprints. Only fingerprints of people who have been arrested, or persons working in highly sensitive employment positions are on file in FBI and state computers. Once a person is fingerprinted for a background check, the fingerprint data is not stored. Therefore, if you apply to tutor, the Live Scan process must be completed again. Please note that School on Wheels does not share your results with any other agency.

LOGGING TUTORING HOURS ONLINE


How do I log my volunteer hours as a School on Wheels tutor?
Please click the link here (SOW Admin) and type in your username and password that your coordinator will have emailed to you.

What is my username and password?
Your username is your email address. The password is sent to the volunteer tutor after their first tutoring session. The password can be changed under “My Profile” when a tutor is logged into the School on Wheels’ online database. If you forget your username or password, contact your Regional Coordinator

I cannot find my student on the database to link them to our tutoring session?
There are several reasons why you might not find your student’s name on the database 1. Your student has not been attached to your name in our primary database. 2. The student’s name has not yet been entered by your Coordinator. 3. Name has been entered incorrectly. To determine if your student’s name is in the database and/or to add your student to a session, simply click on the desired date on the calendar, then click on ‘add student’. A pull down menu will appear with a list of all students currently in the system. If you do not see your student’s name or if you continue to have trouble, please contact your Coordinator.

Do I still log on if I did not meet my student this week?
Yes, you should log on so that we know you’re still active. You can just log a 5-minute session, then put in the general comments section: “Tutor was on vacation, tutor was unable to make session due to car trouble, etc.” If the student does not show, you should mark the “no show” box, unless the student has let you know in advance that he/she won’t be there. If this is the case, you can put “Student at summer camp, student called to cancel due to ______,” etc. in the general comments box.

If I go on vacation or my student is away, how do I note this ?
See above.

How do I recur a tutoring session if I know I am going to be tutoring at the same time every week?
To recur tutoring sessions, go the last date that was successfully logged. Click “Edit Session” and you will be brought to the Session Information screen that allows you the option to recur tutoring from that date. There are three options: Interval (Do Not Recur / Daily / Weekly / Monthly), Recur End Date (enter an end date up to one month in advance), Include Students (Yes if working with the same student / No if tutoring different students regularly). After this information has been entered click “Save Session Changes”

What do I add in the comments box?
There are ‘subject comments’ and ‘session comments’. In the subject comments, enter any comments about the student’s progress in the subject in which you’ve worked. Make your comments brief but clear. For example, if the student is having difficulty with multiplication, you should enter something like ‘needs review of multiplication tables’. For session comments enter any general comments that are not covered by the subject comments e.g., “did not seem interested in math” or comments that might pertain to the session as a whole, i.e. “shelter staff are very helpful”.

Why do I have to add subjects tutored?
It is important to add subjects tutored because we can see what you are working on with your student and therefore can provide you with the necessary resources.

Who reads what I write?
Everybody who has access to our online database can see what you have written. It is great when your Coordinator can quickly read what you have written and respond accordingly.