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!