About Us

We provide educational support to Massachusetts students facing homelessness and poverty. 

Jenevieve Dolby, Massachusetts College of Art and Design

Our Mission

Our mission is to support the academic, social and emotional growth of students impacted by homelessness and poverty.

Our Vision

The vision of School on Wheels of Massachusetts is for all students impacted by homelessness and poverty to have the academic, social and emotional support necessary to achieve a bright and productive future that will help end the cycle of homelessness.

Our Core Values

  • Educate Kids
  • Empower Families
  • End Homelessness
  • One Child at a Time
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Our Impact

Tutored Students
Mentored Students
Students Recieved Backpacks & School Supplies
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You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book!

I wholeheartedly embrace the importance of instilling curiosity and a love for learning in children at an early age. I was super excited to get to know more about SOWMA and the programs designed to help children who don't have much.

The best part of this is actually meeting the students and learning the tough hand they were dealt. They are driven, resilient, highly motivated and grateful for the support

What We Do

Our tutoring program is designed to foster the academic, social and emotional growth of students impacted by homelessness and poverty.

SOWMA’s Bridge Mentoring Program is helps high school and college-age students explore educational and career opportunities.

Donations enable us to provide fully-stocked quality backpacks and new school supplies to students from kindergarten through college.

Who We Are

Together we ensure equitable access to quality education to empower students to overcome barriers and achieve their full potential

Where We Serve

The need for our services has grown exponentially and together with volunteers and supporters, we are working to end the cycle of homelessness through educational support and opportunity.

Tutoring Site Locations:

Attleboro, Boston, Brockton, Fall River, Kingston, Lowell, Middleboro, Norwell, New Bedford, Plymouth, Rockland, Stoughton, Taunton, and Weymouth.

Our History

Celebrating our 20 years in 2024!

Hear the story behind our founding 20 years ago,
with Cheryl Opper and Candy O’Terry.

School on Wheels of Massachusetts (SOWMA) was founded in 2004 by teacher and child advocate Cheryl Opper after reading a magazine article about Agnes Stevens, Founder of School on Wheels of California. The article, “Lessons in Love,” described the non-profit Stevens began after noticing the many children living on Skid Row who were not attending school.

Cheryl was inspired to bring the one-on-one academic support program to Massachusetts for children impacted by homelessness and poverty. She started SOWMA out of her home in Easton, Massachusetts, where she invited volunteers to her kitchen table and filled her basement with donated backpacks and school supplies. Together the volunteers distributed school materials to 20 children living at two family shelters in Brockton, Massachusetts. Soon they began tutoring these children weekly.

Since the start of the 2023/2024 academic year, SOWMA has distributed more than 10,000 new, customized, grade-level backpacks to children and at-risk youth living in 38 Massachusetts communities. Trained volunteers tutored 250 students living in family shelters in Attleboro, Boston, Brockton, Kingston, Middleboro, Taunton, Plymouth, Lowell, Norwell, Fall River, New Bedford, Weymouth, Rockland, Stoughton and Weymouth.

Our Bridge Mentoring Program provides 87 high school and college-age students with financial support and mentors, who shepherd students through high school and onto post-secondary plans, including college, vocational training and jobs.

School on Wheels of Massachusetts is a private, non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization funded through the generosity of individuals, communities, business, corporations and foundations.

Lydia Roy, Massachusetts College of Art & Design

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

School on Wheels of Massachusetts is committed to cultivating a diverse staff and volunteer base by promoting a culture of inclusivity and belonging.

To reflect our diverse student population, we are committed to continuing to increase diversity & inclusion throughout our organization, including staff, volunteers and Board of Directors.

  • Recruit tutors & mentors that reflect the diversity of our students
  • Provide training to support diversity & inclusion
  • Develop the Board through a diversity & inclusion lens

Recent News

By Berk Tanyel, Tutoring Site Coordinator, Ramada Inn, DorchesterRising Senior, Emerson College For the first three months of 2024, the Marriott Courtyard in Dorchester was home for more than a dozen migrant...
In the ever-changing environment of family shelters, where uncertainty can overshadow childhood, incorporating STEAM learning (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) can serve as a lifeline for children and teens who often...
SOWMA’s  20th anniversary occurred on 4.20.24. To celebrate, we circled back to our beginnings to a reception hosted by Brockton Mayor Robert Sullivan, who issued a proclamation on behalf of two decades...

Support Our Programs

There are many ways to support our mission and make a difference in Massachusetts communities where children and youth impacted by homelessness and poverty need educational support.