As a school social worker, Sally Bindley witnessed firsthand the impact of poverty and homelessness on children’s ability to learn. “A lot of services focused on kids’ social needs but weren’t focusing on their educational needs,” she says.
After talking with staff at homeless shelters and advocacy agencies, Sally sprang into action. “I grabbed my mom and my best friend, and she grabbed her mom, and we went to a shelter and said, ‘We can start tutoring your kids.’ It grew organically from there.”
Sally founded the nonprofit School on Wheels in 2001 to connect volunteer tutors with children experiencing homelessness in Indianapolis. The organization has since grown to include over 400 volunteers who provide one-on-one tutoring for children grades K through 12 in nine shelters and four public schools. They also equip parents to become their children’s best educational advocates.
“Because of the web, we’re able to have a bigger impact in our community. It has revolutionized the way we operate.”
Sally Bindley, Founder and CEO
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AdWords, Google’s advertising program, has helped this nonprofit grow. “AdWords allows us to do a multitude of different things,” says Sally, “such as finding volunteers, bringing in donations, and promoting our curriculum.” They also use Google Analytics to see where web visitors are coming from. And their YouTube channel includes tips for tutors on engaging children as well as videos to raise awareness about families experiencing homelessness. “People don’t really realize that homelessness is a problem,” Sally explains. “Google tools help us reach more people and show them that this is an issue. The more people know, the more they’ll be part of the solution.”
School on Wheels has 21 employees.
School on Wheels today hopes to break the cycle of homelessness and “eventually go out of business” as a result of doing so. With numerous success stories of their students going on to college and pursuing rewarding careers, their hope is becoming more and more of a reality. “We’re really making a lasting impact on these children’s lives,” Sally remarks.
Google helps Sally further that impact by enabling the organization to reach more volunteers, partners, and donors—and serve more children and families—while remaining a lean operation. “We couldn’t do this using the phone and pieces of paper,” she says. “This could only happen through the use of technology.”
For more information on the School on Wheels case study, visit https://economicimpact.
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