September 4, 2018 marked our 17th anniversary, and if you’ve been following along on our journey, you’ll know that we don’t stop at tutoring!

During our birthday month, and as we enter a brand-new year of transforming lives through education, we want to share some exciting program changes and growth. This year we have more partners and we’re going deeper than ever before. Our staff of educators, social workers, and youth workers are more deeply embedded at each of our locations and have more hours to work with the children we serve. We’re also going deeper with their parents and the staff at each of our partner sites so we can build a true web of support for every student in our program. If you haven’t already met our new team members, you can read more about each of our Education Support Coordinators here.

As we’ve added new partners, we’ve also been paying close attention to the different needs of those partners. Children impacted by homelessness need wide ranging support, but that support looks different for children who are living in shelters than those who are considered hidden homeless and are living doubled up with family or friend, in motels, or even living in cars and other places not meant for habitation. With this at the forefront of our mind, we have introduced Shelter-based and School-based programs.

Shelter-based Programs

Through Shelter-based programming, we are able to support families whether in a time of crisis at an emergency shelter, or more long-term in transitional or permanent supportive housing. We offer one-on-one tutoring in a group setting, in addition to wrap around services that are focused on coaching parents to become their child’s best educational advocate, from finding the right preschool options for the youngest learners in a family to enrolling school-aged children in the school that’s the right fit for their needs. Regardless of income, children with involved parents are much more likely to adapt well to school and earn higher grades. Learn more about how we engage parents and families through Shelter-based services here.

School-based Programs

When children impacted by homelessness live in shelters, they benefit from a wide variety of programs that support their needs. Once they become stably housed, access to services, particularly those focused on children, tend to diminish, while the trauma of homelessness lingers. Children who are “hidden homeless” also do not benefit from shelter services. Those considered “hidden homeless” live doubled up with other families, in motels, in cars, or live in other spaces not meant for habitation. Whether children are considered “hidden homeless” or they have become stably housed, we work in partnership with schools to provide critical academic support that impacts students impacted by the trauma of homelessness. Visit our site here for a full list of ways we engage children and families through our school-based programs

What do these program changes really mean? They mean we are working with MORE partner sites, accessing MORE children and families impacted by homelessness, and offering MORE services that are critical to helping children and families meet educational milestones that are critical to future academic success. We get to keep doing what we’ve been doing the past 17 years and do it even better.

How we’re Making a Difference

Nationwide, children impacted by homelessness are four times more likely to repeat a grade in school. Kids who repeat a grade in elementary school are 60% more likely to drop out of high school and repeat the cycle of poverty, but not our kids! 98% of School on Wheels students who had 30 or more tutoring sessions last year were promoted to the next grade!

100% of the families that participated in our school readiness pilot last year were referred to a high quality early learning program and began receiving the critical developmental services for which they are eligible. Why is this such an exciting and impactful statistic? Well, on average, children who attend Pre-K have improved language development and nationally, less than 10% of children under the age of 6 who are experiencing homelessness attend free Pre-K programs.

100% of  families we worked with through the school enrollment process were matched with a school of their choice last school year. We’re working hand-in-hand with families to find schools that offer the programs and learning styles that best fit their children’s needs. By matching students with the right school environments, we’re preparing them for academic success throughout the year.

As we celebrate 17 years, we’re reflecting on our past success, enjoying our current impact, and eagerly anticipating all that is ahead as we band together with our school and shelter partners, our volunteer tutors, our supporters, and the Indianapolis community to break the cycle of homelessness through education.  Want to join us? Learn more ways to get involved here