Support Homeless Children - Have a Little Faith in Me PSA

 View our 2016 Annual Report

School on Wheels, Inc. is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1993 by Agnes Stevens, a retired schoolteacher, who understood the importance of education to homeless students - and the unique challenges they face. We were then, and we remain, the only organization in Southern California dedicated exclusively to the educational needs of this fragile population.

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
  • School supplies
  • Assistance in entering school
  • Help in locating lost records
  • Scholarships
  • Guidance for parents in educational matters for their children
  • A Learning Center located in the heart of Skid Row

Our core values represent what we believe in, what we stand for, and how we approach everything we do. They determine how we treat each other, our students, volunteers, donors, partners, 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.


Homelessness in America

Accurate statistics regarding the number of homeless children are difficult to obtain. The homeless population is constantly in flux. The statistics are the most recent and admittedly under-estimated. Most counts do not specifically identify children, do not include families staying in motels, or children living in group foster homes.

Here are additional resources to find out more about homelessness in the U.S. and how you can help.
Here are additional resources to find out more about homelessness in the U.S. and how you can help.

Who We Are

The Executive Board

Joshua Fein, President

Chief Financial Officer, Property Management Associates, Inc.

Steven Dahlberg, Treasurer

President, The Kissel Company, Inc.

Clifford Neiman, Secretary

Principal, The Neiman Group Architects

Lynn M. Gardner, Esq.

Retired Electric Power Executive

Jackson George

SVP, Creative Film Services, Walt Disney Studios

Professor Christine ​Chambers Goodman

Pepperdine University School of Law

Beong-Soo Kim

Vice President and Assistant General Counsel, Kaiser Permanente

Laurie Levit

Educational Consultant

Catherine Meek

Executive Director, School on Wheels

Cecil L. “Chip” Murray

Professor of Religion, Tanzy Chair in Christian Ethics, USC

Ellen Padnos

Co-Founder, Joyful Giving

Angela M. Sanchez

Program Analyst for College Success, ECMC Foundation

Susan Taylor

President, OMD Entertainment

Janet Ambrosi Wertman

Development Consultant

Melissa Zukerman

Managing Partner, Principal Communications Group

Our Students

Every month we ask our regional staff to nominate a star student. Our students receive a special certificate for being nominated. It is a great privilege to work with these amazing students.

E’lon, 5th Grade

February 2018


E’lon is a very determined student and sees the importance of his education for his future. When I started tutoring him, he had many issues with his basic math, but with his perseverance he has improved dramatically. With his hard work, I can see his improvement and success on a daily basis. One way in which E’lon has changed through online tutoring is that he has developed a constant drive to learn whether it be in math or science. Every day, he asks me to learn something new and this truly helps both of us as I also get the chance to learn something. Working with E’lon as an online tutor has been an eye-opening experience and his future is very bright.

Jishnu Basu, Online Tutor

Deemar, Age 7

February 2018

Region 5

My current student, Deemar, has been the most rewarding and at the same time, the most challenging student I have dealt with so far. When we first met in September 2017, he was scoring around 10-20% on his spelling tests and was frustrated with the idea of learning how to spell. We’ve had good days and we’ve had bad days, but most importantly, we kept pushing forward week after week. I’m happy to share that he recently finished off 2017 with back to back 80% scores on his spelling tests, capping off a few months of steady growth. He is more excited about our sessions now, and I can’t wait to continue seeing him grow and become a great speller and reader in the years to come.

Jonathan Garcia, Tutor

Ariana, 4th Grade

February 2018

Region 4

I have been working with a sweet and lively 4th grader by the name of Ariana. Ariana is a lovely young lady that loves her three sisters, enjoys school and is very positive about life. Every week, she looks forward to what library books I will bring, as she loves to read to me. Recently, I asked to review her school planner and was so humbled to see that she even wrote my name in her planner on our tutoring day. When I recently asked Ariana what she would like to focus on, she wanted to do some science as her school does not spend a lot of time on that subject. So this week I brought supplies to do the classic diet cola and mentos experiment. Ariana and her sisters loved it! Now that I have discovered a fun reward (science), I plan to have a weekly experiment to positively end each session. I’m so glad that I have this opportunity to work with School on Wheels. It is such a rewarding experience!

Cathy Anderson, Tutor

Savanna, 4th Grade

December 2017


Savanna is a passionate and eager student. I ended our first online tutoring session utterly blown away by her curiosity, grit, and desire to learn. Each session she is less and less shy and whether we’re playing tic-tac-toe or working on a complex math problem, Savanna always brings the same level of energy and enthusiasm. It has been particularly rewarding to see her progress in multiplication; after just a few sessions, she has progressed from two-digit multiplication to more complex compound multiplication! In our online group sessions, Savanna helps explain to her fellow students their work too. Congrats, Savanna!

Aidan Stern, Online Tutor

Santiago, 4th Grade

November 2017

Region 8

Santiago has done a great job of keeping up with his homework. He is always prepared and ready to go when he arrives for tutoring. He is so polite, considerate and a “good boy.” He thanks me for helping him. Even though he just turned 9 years old, has already internalized the belief that he can be successful by doing well in school. One of the cutest things he does when reading to me out loud is that he will pause at words like “stupid” or “jerk” because he has been told by someone else in his life that these aren’t nice words. I tell him that it is ok to go ahead and say these words out loud because, after all, we are practicing reading. I actually know that he can read these words because when he gets to them he looks up at me for permission to say them. He is just that kind of kid. A pure delight!

Stephen Smith, Tutor

Eric, 12th Grade

November 2017


Having recently moved to another shelter, Eric had been struggling with adjusting to his new environment. Reluctant to join our online tutoring program at first, Eric eventually developed a strong bond with his online tutor, Folu, a biomedical engineering student at Walla Walla University in Washington. Eric enjoys catching up on math and science and learning about college. Eric’s mom and shelter staff have noted that since he began tutoring with Folu, Eric has increased in his confidence in school as well as in his overall attitude and demeanor. Go, Eric!

Ian Chan, Program Administrator

Stephanie, 8th Grade

November 2017

Skid Row Learning Center

Stephanie has improved tremendously. She is helpful to both staff and students alike. Her kindness, willingness to take direction and dedication to her education make her an excellent choice for Student of the Month.

Jason Wright, Skid Row Learning Center Specialist

Mahalaysia, 5th Grade

November 2017

Region 4

It has been such a joy to help my current student develop not only her math and reading skills but also her confidence. Every week she is more motivated to tackle new academic challenges, and I look forward to continuing to help her develop valuable skills.

Amber Monterosso, Tutor


October 2017

Region 10

I have many favorite students but would like to highlight Jesse, who I have personally spent a lot of time tutoring. I’m known as “Mr. Chris, The Math Guy” and Jesse loves his math, so I have been working with him every week. I always challenge him with extra questions, and he is so motivated to do well, it feels so great to be a part of that success!

Chris Ruoff, Tutor Coordinator

Heiress, 3rd Grade

October 2017


Heiress has made steady improvements since she began online tutoring. In the beginning, Heiress had a hard time keeping focused throughout our sessions. Now, Heiress has started to develop attention to detail while working. She takes pride in her homework, loves art, and enjoys reading aloud. Way to go, Heiress!

Olivia Galvan, Online Tutor

Our Volunteers

Volunteers are the heart and soul of School on Wheels. In 2016, 2,202 volunteers tutored 3,450 homeless students. The Presidential Volunteer Service Award recognizes individuals, families, and groups that have achieved a certain standard, measured by the number of hours of service over a 12-month period or cumulative hours earned over the course of a lifetime. Read more through our Star Volunteer stories.

Learn More