Category: In The News

May 17

Interview with PEACE Fund Radio

On today’s show, Jason Richter and Dustin Burford join Adrian and Ethan in the studio. Adrian chats with Natasha Bayus, the Education Director and Lisa Frias, the Student Support Coordinator of School on Wheels, a nonprofit in Los Angeles working to bring educational opportunities to homeless children.

In this interview, Natasha and Lisa talk about the history of School on Wheels and how it has progressed over the years along with discussing the increase of homelessness in Los Angeles.

More than one million public school students in the United States have no room to call their own, no desk to do their homework, no bed to call their own at night. State data collected by the National Center for Homeless Education shows over 1.3 million homeless students in the 2015-2016 school year.

Here in California, as housing costs continue to soar, more and more children are suffering the severest of consequences: No place to call home.

Since 2014, the number of homeless children in California has jumped 20 percent. In the most recently released data, 202,329 young people are living in cars, motels, shelters, on the street or in crowded homes shared with other families. That’s over 3 percent of the enrolled K-12 students, more than twice the national rate, but the actual numbers are almost certainly higher.

In school, these homeless children face daunting challenges and require social services and academic help perhaps more than any other group. Faced with extreme poverty, stress and exhaustion, these children are far more likely to struggle academically and drop out of school than their peers.

Listen to the interview at the 34:00 mark here.

Apr 30

iHeartRadio

School on Wheels Regional Manager, Lisette Gaeta, and Regional Coordinator, Riley Hennessy interviewed with iHeartRadio to talk about the work our volunteers do in the community to help provide educational assistance to our homeless students.

Listen to the full interview here.

Become a volunteer here. 

Apr 23

Honoring Our Volunteers and a Video Message From Mayor Eric Garcetti

April is Volunteer Appreciation month, and every year we celebrate our volunteers and thank them for dedicating their time and talents to supporting the homeless students we serve.  As this year is our 25th anniversary, we hosted our biggest event ever. On Saturday, April 21,  over 150 volunteers from Long Beach to Ventura joined staff and board members for an inspirational breakfast and award ceremony.

Mayor Eric Garcetti honored volunteer tutors with certificates of appreciation and recorded a video for us to share at the event. Speakers included a parent whose daughter is now attending college and student Charlie (15) who surprised his tutor, Executive Director Catherine Meek, by reading out the proclamation she received from the mayor. Click here to see a full list of the amazing volunteers who logged over 50+ volunteer hours in 2017.
 
Apr 12

AME Lenten Caravan Donates to School on Wheels – Los Angeles Sentinel

Eight AME churches recently united to present the Community Lenten Caravan (CLC), a series of services held in L.A. and Pasadena leading up to Resurrection Sunday.

The goals were spiritual renewal for believers and raising funds to assist two local nonprofits. School on Wheels of Los Angeles and Alkebulan Cultural Center of Pasadena received all of the proceeds from the CLC services.

Above, the nonprofit representatives (center) pose with CLC Pastors (from left) Dwaine Jackson, Darryl Walker, Benjamin Hollins, Kelvin Calloway, John Cager III, Carolyn Baskin-Bell, T.C. Johnson, Mary S. Minor and Larry Campbell. (Jacquelyn Calloway photo)

Read the article on the Los Angeles Sentinel here.

Apr 11

Nonprofit Spotlight – m/OppenheimTV

Nonprofit Spotlight: School on Wheels Volunteers Going the Distance in Tutoring and Guiding At-Risk Students

By Alexandra Fradelizio | m/Oppenheim Media Writer

For thousands of homeless and unsheltered children, falling behind in school is an occurrence that jeopardizes their future education and livelihoods. The Southern California based organization School on Wheels works with about 3,500 at-risk youth annually“to reduce the gaps in education of homeless kids from kindergarten through grade 12,” stated Executive Director Catherine Meek.

Students who are tutored by the volunteers of School on Wheels reside in Los Angeles County with many meeting at the organization’s learning center in Skid Row. For the majority of children unable to visit the learning center, dedicated volunteers travel to homeless shelters, a nod to the organization’s name.

“We work with the kids that are the most transient,” explained Meek.

“We go to wherever the kids are. They don’t come to us.”

In order to recruit volunteers, the School on Wheels staff conducts extensive interviews and provides a mandatory training program to ensure tutors are able to remain within the organization for the foreseeable future. The process not only effectively matches volunteers with students but also helps to create a “lasting relationship,”Meek stated.

“The most important success factor for our students is consistency of volunteers and the bond that is created between the student and the volunteer.”

School on Wheels accepts volunteers across all age groups and backgrounds. Tutors as young as 12 are permitted to volunteer with a parent or guardian, and the organization has previously recruited individuals with professions in business, science, and drama. A senior volunteer initiative has also been implemented to attract individuals over the age of 55. Ultimately, staff of School on Wheels seek to find individuals who want to both help and guide students in receiving an education.

“It’s very difficult to gain the trust in a short time period of kids who are unsheltered, and they are arguably the kids who need our help the most,” said Meek.

The organization was originally founded 25 years ago by retired school teacher Agnes Stevens who volunteered as an aide at a Los Angeles school. When she discovered that numerous students lived at homeless shelters, Stevens and her friends, including Meek, began to tutor the children and experienced the numerous positive effects of their work.

Eventually becoming the executive director of the organization in 2009, Meek has helped to grow the outreach of School on Wheels and increase the number of children served despite challenges. The Los Angeles Times recently called the current homeless situation in the city “disgraceful”as a decline in affordable housing has contributed to the drastic growth of unsheltered children.

“What we want to do now is to have a bigger impact on each individual student in terms of the quality of the service we provide,” stated Meek.

In addition to offering tutoring sessions, students also directly receive benefits from the organization. Funds from School on Wheels help to give the children school supplies, uniforms, and scholarships. The organization has also instated a number of new initiatives, including digital learning and reading literacy programs, to help diminish the educational disparities among at-risk youth.

With the unrelenting commitment of their volunteers, School on Wheels is helping to pave a positive future for many youth.

“Their lives are just filled with inconsistency and instability and chaos, and so we want to provide a refuge,” said Meek.

“We want to be able to provide that consistency of caring and compassion and support.”

Read the article from m/Oppenheim here.