August 20, 2018 – In 1993 a retired school teacher, Agnes Stevens, was so deeply moved by the
number and plight of homeless students she saw that she dedicated her life to setting up a
nonprofit to help. School on Wheels has been providing one-on-one stable tutoring
relationships ever since.
August marks the 25th anniversary of local nonprofit School on Wheels. School on Wheels
began in Santa Monica with one tutor and now operates in six counties throughout Southern
California. In 2010, it opened its flagship Skid Row Learning Center and since then has opened
five Digital Learning Centers a in Compton, San Fernando Valley, Boyle Heights, Venice and
Chino Hills. In 2017, 2,029 volunteers spent more than 100,000 hours tutoring 3,370 homeless
kids. More than 5,000 backpacks, school supplies, uniforms and bus tokens have been
distributed to children in need in the past year. Their Resource Center is located in Ventura.

“When I was 16 we were homeless in Los Angeles and we spent nights sleeping on buses and
trains and finally moved into a shelter in Skid Row,” said Josephine Bailey McLein. “That’s when
I found School on Wheels. Their center had internet and I could do my homework somewhere I
felt safe. I worked hard to get all the requirements for college, but I never told anyone at my
high school I was homeless. I am now a junior at USC majoring in human biology and my mom
and sister finally have an apartment. School on Wheels encouraged me to keep up with my
school work and to follow my dream of going to college.”
As California’s housing shortage intensifies, the number of homeless children continues to
climb. Since 2014, the number of homeless youth in California has jumped 20 percent, to more
than 202,329, and accounts for nearly four percent of the overall public school population,
according to the California Homeless Youth Project.
“While childhood homelessness and poverty are daunting, I truly believe that when people
come together around a shared belief, change is possible,” says Catherine Meek, executive
director of School on Wheels. “Twenty five ago Agnes provided us with a conduit for this
change and we are honored by the support of volunteers and donors to keep making a
difference in the lives of students like Josephine.”
To learn more about School on Wheels, visit
School on Wheels, Inc. is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1993 by Agnes Stevens,
a retired teacher. Today, hundreds of volunteers work one-on-one with children whose
homelessness prevents them from receiving the academic stability and help they desperately
need. The heart of the School on Wheels’ program 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 his or her educational life. The mission of School on Wheels is to enhance
educational opportunities for homeless children from kindergarten through twelfth grade. The
goal is to shrink the gaps in their education and provide them with the highest level of
education possible. Their program serves as a consistent support system to homeless students
at a time of great stress and fear. School on Wheels brings the message to homeless students
that they are cared about and important. They do this by offering: One-on-one weekly tutoring
with a volunteer / Backpacks, school supplies and school uniforms / Assistance in entering
school / Help in locating lost records / Guidance for parents in educational matters for their
children / Skid Row Learning Center / Tutoring in six counties in Southern California, including
Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.
Submitted by Sinead Chilton, Director, Development & Marketing |

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