School on Wheels of Massachusetts (SOWMA) was founded in 2004 by Cheryl Opper, teacher and child advocate, after reading a magazine article about Agnes Stevens, the founder of School on Wheels of California. Cheryl was inspired to bring the one-on-one academic program to Massachusetts to support children struggling to stay on track in school while experiencing homelessness. She started SOWMA out of her home in Easton, where she trained community volunteer tutors at her kitchen table. Cheryl worked with local universities to recruit her first tutors. Her basement was filled with backpacks and school supplies. Community volunteers came together to prepare the backpacks for the children. In 2004, SOWMA worked with 20 children a week in two family shelters. SOWMA now provides customized services for over 200 plus students a week in grades K through 12 at 12 program sites, as well as 30 college students currently enrolled at 12 different schools throughout New England.
School on Wheels of Massachusetts is the third program in the country. We are primarily privately funded through individuals, civic organizations, businesses and foundations.
Our numbers since 2004 (*)
- 30 sites launched
- More than 1,800 volunteer tutors cumulatively trained
- Over 34,000 tutoring hours recorded
- Over 2,200 students cumulatively served
- Given out over 10,000 fully stocked backpacks
- 30 students enrolled in college
*As of 02/14/2017