Education Celebration Success!

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:

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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.

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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.

Thank You Volunteers!

Posted April 8th, 2014 by Claire with No Comments

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National Volunteer Week is April 6th – 13th this year, and we want to recognize our amazing volunteers and share a special thank you from School on Wheels’ students. Our volunteer tutors make a world of difference in the lives of our kids.

“I love School on Wheels because it’s fun to me and I like tutors because they are good teachers.” - Mason, 2nd grade student

“I love School on Wheels because tutors show their love by helping children do their homework, and children show their love by being respectful.” - DeAndra, 3rd grade student

“I love School on Wheels because the tutors help me with my school work and my homework.  We play games together.” – Jaden, 4th grade student

The very basis of School on Wheels’ success lies in our 400 passionate and dedicated volunteers. Without them, we couldn’t provide the more than 5,500 hours of one-on-one tutoring to over 350 children each school year. Every single week our volunteers give their time and energy to us so that the homeless children of Indianapolis have access to academic support in an encouraging environment.

We have corporate tutoring teams, parent and child tutoring teams and individual tutors who give one hour of their time (or more!) each week. It’s amazing to see individuals, businesses and families throughout the Indianapolis area come together to support these kids. School on Wheels is a true community organization, and every minute our volunteers dedicate to us helps build a brighter future for our kids and for Indianapolis. Thank you from the School on Wheels staff and thank you from our students! Our volunteers are amazing!

Interested in joining our amazing group of volunteers and making a difference in the lives of students experiencing homelessness?  Find out more!

Partner Spotlight: Salvation Army Barton Center

Posted February 27th, 2014 by Shalyn with No Comments

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At School on Wheels we are so lucky to work with amazing partners who help us meet our mission throughout the year. We partner with nine shelters and two schools to offer tutoring to students impacted by homelessness up to four nights a week. Our partners allow us the space and the staff support to provide meaningful impact for these youth and their families. Through these strong partnerships, we work together as a community to build a web of support for the homeless families in Indianapolis.

Salvation Army Barton Center is one of our wonderful partners. We provide tutoring to the students housed there three nights each week and have worked with their staff to provide summer programming for the past two years. Additionally, we offer parent workshops every month covering various educational topics, and we even bring a variety of fun community resources and activities to the families at Barton.  As a transitional shelter, many of the students we tutor in this location are in our program for an extended period of time, and our staff and volunteers enjoy building relationships with them throughout the year.

We know what Barton Center means to Indianapolis and to School on Wheels, but we wanted hear from Barton Center about what School on Wheels means to them.  As part of our Share the Love campaign, we heard from Salvation Army Barton Center, Case Manager, Chris Wynn about what makes our relationship with them so impactful.

“School on Wheels means that our school-age children have an outlet to enhance and build on their school work in a fun environment. Since we don’t have a designated play area or an activity director, the fun activities the tutors share with our children enrich their lives. This helps keep our kids out of trouble by offering them something positive, constructive and enjoyable to do before supper and bed time.

Through School on Wheels’ programs, we see children become more interested in learning and creativity. The parents, in turn, see that interest and become more encouraging. Special programs like art and wild animals have stimulated our children most positively.  I would also say the interaction our kids have with their adult tutors equips them to interact better with Barton staff and other grown-ups in our community.”

Thanks to Salvation Army Barton Center for being such a wonderful partner! We love working with organizations that are dedicated to improving the lives of children and families experiencing homelessness.

Our Program Coordinators are Sharing the Love!

Posted February 18th, 2014 by Claire with No Comments

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Our volunteers and donors have been so wonderful about sharing their favorite School on Wheels stories as part of our Share the Love campaign that we wanted to make sure to share a few stories of our own. School on Wheels Program Coordinators at each partner site have the advantage of interacting with our tutors and students up to four times a week. Their experiences always provide great insight about what makes our programming so useful and unique for our students. Here are just a few of those stories that help sum up those amazing things our Program Coordinators encounter every day:

Recently, two of our Ice Miller tutors stayed 45 minutes late to make sure one of our new students completed her homework. It was a challenging English assignment to write a poem, but the tutors would not give up nor did they let the student give up either.
- Ieva Grundy, Salvation Army Ruth Lilly Women and Children’s Center & Salvation Army Barton Center Program Coordinator

Amber, a 4th grade student, was struggling with fractions so her mom brought in a math assignment on fractions that she was struggling with.  Her mom said she did not remember how to do the work, and asked if we could help Amber.  Amber’s tutor spent the entire hour reviewing each problem with her and teaching the material she simply did not understand.  The one-on-one tutoring for 60 minutes was all Amber needed to fully understand and catch up to the material being taught in class.  Amber’s mom was very thankful, and Amber had the confidence she needed for the next day of math!
- Autumn Hays, Julian Center Program Coordinator 

We had a couple of new kids enter tutoring this week. One was in kindergarten and one was in 2nd grade. The kindergartener was crying when she entered and seemed really scared because they had just gotten to the emergency shelter and were being bombarded with all this new information and all these new rules. The kindergartener kept saying she didn’t want to stay, but her mom left after we did paperwork. By the time she came back the little girl ran up to her smiling saying, ‘My tutor was really nice!’
- Erin, Dayspring Center Program Coordinator

At School on Wheels, we love stories. While the hard and fast stats on our students’ academic successes fill us with happiness, we can’t deny that stories about our children impact us a little more profoundly. It’s always heartwarming to know more about those students who are benefitting from the amazing efforts of School on Wheels’ volunteers, donors and staff throughout the year. Thanks to each of you for making these stories possible.

Star Students: Meet Lily

Posted December 16th, 2013 by Claire with No Comments

Give the gift of education!We’re proud of all of our students’ achievements, but we get especially excited when we can share some of their academic success. This fall, Lily, a senior who lived in and attended tutoring at three of our partner locations during the 15 months her family was homeless, was awarded a $2,000 LeTendre Scholarship through the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY). She was one of a select group of students throughout the nation to be awarded the scholarship this year, and was flown to Atlanta, GA to accept it this fall during the annual NAEHCY conference. LeTendre scholarships are for students who are homeless or who have been homeless during their K-12 school attendance, and who have demonstrated average or higher than average achievement.

The social worker at Lily’s school introduced her to this opportunity, but it was Lily’s insightful essay that earned her this special award. Lily has big plans for her future, and we’re so pleased they include education. She wants to major in elementary education with a special education concentration, and also wants to take Spanish. Her desire is to teach preschool or kindergarten. Helping out in the early childhood education classroom at her high school was one of the reasons she selected this inspiring plan for her future.

Lily has her sights set on several great schools, but Indiana University is where she most wants to attend. But with applications out to Ball State and Butler as well, Lily will have many options. We feel confident that the same strength and focus Lily used to achieve academically while homeless will benefit her well in college. She has already experienced more distractions than most youth her age and has managed to achieve great results in spite of them.

While we are thrilled to report on Lily’s academic success, we’re also happy to share that Lily, her mother and younger brother have recently moved into a home of their own. This gives us great hope that Lily will now be able to focus more on the things that she loves and bring her comfort, like helping kids, spending time with family and reading.

Lily’s tutor Cindy says, “Lilly is a great girl,” and we couldn’t agree more. We celebrate Lily’s academic success and wish her the best of luck in the future!