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Project Spotlight: School on Wheels

Updated: Nov 10, 2020

Find out about how our consultants helped one of our clients, School on Wheels, secure over $31,000 in funding from the USC Good Neighbors Grant.

Our Client

School on Wheels is a non-profit 501c3 organization dedicated to tutoring children experiencing homelessness in California. School on Wheels volunteers tutor children between kindergarten and twelfth grade.

Since 1993, the mission of School on Wheels has never wavered: to enhance educational opportunities for children who are experiencing homelessness from kindergarten through twelfth grade. Their goal is to shrink the gaps in their learning and provide them with the highest level of education possible. Their program serves as a consistent support system for our students during a time of great stress and fear.


Solutions Sought

  1. Methods to acquire computer hardware to meet current tutoring needs. This may include researching paths for partnerships, donations, or contracts.

  2. Research on internet acquisition capabilities at School on Wheel’s various locations and in accessible areas for children in the program.


Our Approach

We explored multiple options to receive funding for our client. We identified two different areas we could explore: Community and Corporate.


  1. Partners through USC and other educational institutions such as the Good Neighbors Campaign and Troy Camp

  2. Los Angeles partners have been generous in providing funding relief to general nonprofits such as LA 2050 and the USC Joint Educational Project (JEP)


  1. Big name technology companies such as IBM, Cisco, and Best Buy that donate tech for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Initiatives

  2. Technology-based nonprofits who fund hardware and software needs (Computers with Causes and Mobile Citizen)

Considering all the possible options and how feasible they were given the COVID-19 pandemic, we recommended to focus efforts on applying to the USC Good Neighbors Campaign grant.


Our USC Partners

In order to demonstrate concrete ties to USC, School on Wheels had to demonstrate an affiliation with members of the USC community. They ended up with two partners: Sagar Tiwari (the Project Manager who led this engagement) and Professor Hank Wasiak (an esteemed faculty member at the USC Marshall School of Business).

We are very lucky to have Mr. Wasiak on board with this project. The way we developed a working relationship was the result of pure luck. Our consultants used to meet in a specific classroom in Fertitta Hall every Wednesday at 8 PM. Coincidentally, Mr. Wasiak’s Marketing and Communication class ended at that exact time. And because he had a penchant for staying in the classroom a little past his reservation that ended at 8 PM, he jokes that 180 members had a penchant for “kicking him out when time was up.” It was through these little conversations that he learned about our organization and offered his help to us in any way possible. Little did we know about Mr. Wasiak’s extensive success, serving on the board of the American Heart Association and having been involved in the production of an Emmy award-winning public service announcement about heart disease.


Bringing it all together

Having identified the specific grant we would apply to and the USC partners we needed, we proceeded to help our client navigate this grant application process by breaking it down into actionable steps and highlighting important “selling points” of their organization.

Our Recommendation on how to succeed in the application process:

  1. Budget Breakdown: The most competitive applicants have outlined how funds will be allocated to maximize impact, and can clearly demonstrate current budgeting practices

  2. Compelling Data: It’s important to have robust qualitative data to support projections of impact. We should also have systemic data collection methods in place (e.g. surveying students on grades in a course each quarter)

  3. Clear Link to USC: There should be a genuine community-university partnership. This is facilitated by on-campus initiatives (e.g. partnership with 180DC, recruitment of student tutors) and a university sponsor working closely with School on Wheels.


Our Impact

Ultimately, we are ecstatic that our recommendations resulted in over $31,000 given to School on Wheels. This $31,000 will be used to provide Chromebooks and mobile hotspots to students that pass through our client’s program.

If you feel that your organization could use our help, fill out our client interest form!

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