School Expansion

School Expansion

Posted July 22nd, 2014 by Claire with No Comments

We are very excited to announce that School on Wheels has received a two-year $80,000 grant from Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust that will launch our Hidden Homeless pilot in schools. This initiative will bring School on Wheels’ one-on-one tutoring to three new schools throughout Indianapolis by 2016, and will target children living in transition outside the shelter system. Families who are living in transition are those who lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence.

This funding comes at a time during which student homelessness across Indiana is at a record high, according to the latest data from the Indiana Department of Education. The Indy Star recently highlighted the growth of homelessness among Indiana students in Vic Ryckaert’s article, “Homelessness Exploding in Suburban Schools.” While homelessness is surging across Indiana, Marion County has seen the largest increase. According to the Indiana Department of Education, 5,233 students were homeless in 2013, a 69% increase from the 2006-07 school year.

We are thrilled to be able to introduce a program that serves to directly meet the expanding needs of children experiencing homelessness in Indianapolis. Already we are seeing great results! During the fall semester of the 2013/2014 school year, we introduced STAR (Striving Toward Academic Readiness) at IPS #54 as the first phase of our Hidden Homeless Initiative. Our staff worked in collaboration with IPS #54’s administration, teachers and social workers to create targeted lesson plans that address the individual needs of the selected student population.

Below are just a few of the successes 13 kindergarteners in the program demonstrated during the 2013/2014 school year!

  • 92% of students know all 26 upper and lower case letters.
  • 100% of students had a grade-appropriate ability to distinguish letters, words, and sentences.
  • 92% of students improved or stayed the same in their ability to count a number of objects (1:1 correspondence).
  • 100% of students improved or stayed the same in their ability to share and take turns.
  • 92% of students improved or stayed the same in their ability to follow directions.

We’re happy to announce that the first year of the STAR program at IPS #54 had such great results that we’ll be offering STAR to both kindergarten and 1st grade students at IPS #54 during the 2014/2015 school year! If you are interested in volunteering for this lunchtime tutoring program or in our after school tutoring program at Greenbriar Elementary as part of our hidden homeless initiative, please contact Samantha Breeling, our Volunteer Coordinator, by email or by calling our office at 317-202-9100.

Need more information about our programs and volunteer opportunities? Learn more about our lunchtime and after school programs and check out our tutoring schedule!

Selling Lemonade to End Homelessness

Posted July 16th, 2014 by Shalyn with No Comments

At School on Wheels, we are lucky to have a huge variety of supporters – including some very young philanthropists. We are always floored by the generosity of our young donors, as they are always so excited to help other kids. Recently, we were honored to meet a new supporter – a very driven young lady named Gianina.


Gianina and her mom, Debra, stopped by our office earlier this month to drop off the proceeds of a lemonade stand she held at Keystone at the Crossing as part of Lemonade Day Indianapolis. Gianina told us that she decided to donate the proceeds of her lemonade stand to School on Wheels after meeting our Vice President of Programs & Community Outreach, Laura, at the Lemonade Day Youth Philanthropy Fair. Gianina raised $272 to benefit our kids – and she’s only seven years old!

We are so grateful to Gianina and her mom for their generosity in supporting our students. Gianina promised that this won’t be the last time we see her – she said she plans to apply to tutor when she turns 11!

Inspired by Gianina’s story? Check out other ways that people have gotten creative in their giving or donate today!

It’s Time to Celebrate!

Posted July 8th, 2014 by Shalyn with No Comments

Congratulations School on Wheels Students!

Grades are in and there’s so much to celebrate!

During the 2013/2014 school year, School on Wheels served 331 students experiencing homelessness through one-on-one tutoring. We also served 192 parents in order to equip them with the tools necessary to be the best advocates for their children’s education.

Tutor reading with kidsWe provided a whopping 5,885 hours of one-on-one tutoring to kids in grades K-12, and 1,140 consultations to the parents of the kids we work with. We are seeing great results from the academic intervention programs we are able to provide to children experiencing homelessness and their families, thanks to our wonderful donors and volunteers. Without donations of time, talent, supplies and money, we wouldn’t be able to have such tremendous impact.

During the 2013/2014 school year, School on Wheels students for whom we have academic data achieved the following outstanding results!

  • 100% of our students for whom we have grades for at least 2 quarters during the school year have maintained or increased their grade in at least one subject area.
  • 92% of our students for whom we have grades for at least 2 quarters during the school year have maintained or increased their grade in at least two subject areas.
  • 86% of our young primary students (kindergarten or first grade) performed at or above grade level during quarter 4.

Please take a moment to join us in celebrating these accomplishments!

Education is a key tool in breaking the cycle of homelessness.  Thank you to our donors and volunteers for their investment in our city by helping us equip those who need it most with the academic tools needed to succeed. 

New to School on Wheels? Want to become involved in equipping children impacted by homelessness with the educational tools necessary to achieve success in life and break the cycle of homelessness? Learn more here.

Thanks Silly Safaris!

Posted June 18th, 2014 by Claire with No Comments

Silly Safaris is the leading provider of live animal conservation education in Indiana and provides over 3,000 conservation-inspiring live animal shows every year throughout the United States of America. Amazon John and the entire Silly Safaris team take a hands-on and fun approach to introducing kids to nature, and School on Wheels is lucky to have Silly Safaris as a partner.

AngiCat from Silly Safaris

This semester, while IPS students were on spring break, AngiCat of Silly Safaris brought a variety of animals to Dayspring Center and shared an hour of entertainment with our kids. AngiCat introduced everyone to Wofford the Boston Terrier to kick off the show, then soon introduced the kids to a menagerie of other animals, including: a crab, bull frog, tortoise, hare, chicken, python, alligator, skunk and an owl. Our kids had the chance to hold some of these animals, feed them, and even pet them!

Both the kids and our tutors had a great time learning about each of the animals AngiCat unveiled, but the animal that received the biggest reaction was the skunk. Even with its glands removed, it still cleared the room when AngiCat took him out of his cage. The entire evening was lots of fun and we are so thankful to have Silly Safaris support our kids with their wonderful programs!

Thanks again Silly Safaris for being a great supporter of our students and providing them with such fantastic opportunities!

Education Celebration Success!

Posted May 19th, 2014 by Shalyn with No Comments

A huge thank you to the over 400 people who attended our 2014 Education Celebration! We had such a fantastic evening, and were amazed by the generosity of everyone who attended.

We were honored to have so many special guests join us:

Millman Sagamore 1 retouched

Governor Mike Pence and First Lady Karen Pence attended the Education Celebration and presented our Founder and CEO, Sally Bindley, with a fantastic honor – a Sagamore of the Wabash Award. This award, given out exclusively by the Governor of Indiana, was created in the 1940s as a high civilian honor.


Our media partner, RTV-6, attended the event, and we were so honored to have Rafael Sanchez as the Master of Ceremony at the Education Celebration!


Dwayne Allen, tight end for the Indianapolis Colts, attended the Education Celebration and shared his inspiring story about how his high school football coach helped him achieve a college education.

ms. sue

Our speaker for the evening, Miss Sue, portrayed by Kathy Bates in the film The Blind Side, shared her experiences tutoring Michael Oher of the Baltimore Ravens throughout high school and into college.  Her remarks reinforced the importance of education and the impact tutors can have on the lives of children.

We were honored to present awards to many individuals and corporations who have made a huge impact in the lives of School on Wheels’ kids and the greater Indiana community:

2014 Corporate Partner of the Year: Royal United Mortgage Throughout the last six years, Royal United Mortgage has supported School on Wheels’ kids in a variety of ways: financial support, educational supplies, snacks for the tutoring hour, a book for every student as a holiday gift, and tutoring teams who have given countless volunteer hours to helps students academically.

2014 Philanthropist of the Year: Cindy Simon Skjodt Cindy Simon Skjodt, a passionate community leader, joined the School on Wheels Advisory Board in 2012, and contributed a substantial gift to the Ignite Learning program last year, recognizing the great value homeless parents play in their children’s success.

2014 Tutoring Team of the Year: Ice Miller LLP Ice Miller has provided volunteers for School on Wheels tutoring teams for the last two years and has many employees that sit on the SPOKES committee, a group of young professionals who care about education in Indianapolis, think creatively about how to address the needs of the youth served and are passionate about the School on Wheels mission.

2014 Tutor of the Year: Tonia Carriger Tonia has been a School on Wheels volunteer since 2011. When additional volunteers were needed this year, Tonia answered the call and added another location and another day to her already busy schedule.  Tonia connects to her students’ specific learning needs and brings materials to the tutoring hour that she knows will aid the students’ learning.

2014 Education Champion: Aster Bekele The Education Champion award recognizes an individual who has devoted his or her time, expertise and focus in supporting youth and championing education. Individuals recognized for this award are nominated by community members in Indiana.

The 2014 Education Champion, Aster Bekele, founded the Felege Hiywot Center in Indianapolis to give back to her Hoosier community and to support her birthplace, Ethiopia. The Center’s mission is to serve urban youth of Indianapolis, second generation Ethiopians in Indianapolis and orphans in Ethiopia. Aster received a $1,000 award that will benefit the students with whom she works.

Finally, we were able to celebrate the accomplishments of our School on Wheels students.

Although they were unable to attend the event because it was a school night, we were able to honor them through a video presentation:

Lily, a high school senior, was awarded the Excellence in Education Award for setting goals and planning for a bright future by securing multiple college scholarships.

Corbin, a first grade student, received the Outstanding Scholar Award for obtaining a 3.82 GPA, the highest of School on Wheels’ students.

Tyler, a fifth grader, was awarded the Positive Mental Attitude award for always working hard and acting as a role model for our younger students.

Congratulations to all of our event honorees!

Thank you, again, to everyone who attended the event and helped us celebrate education and the accomplishments of our students, donors, corporate partners, and community members. With your generosity, we were able to raise over $250,000 to support the education of students experiencing homeless in Indianapolis.

Thanks to our sponsors for helping make this event possible:

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Inspired to become more involved in School on Wheels’ mission? Become a tutor or sign up for Chalk Talk, our e-newsletter, to be the first to know about upcoming School on Wheels events.