Grantee Impact: School on Wheels of Massachusetts

We’re featuring former grantee School on Wheels of MA (SOWMA), who recently provided their 1000th backpack to one of many of the back-to-school children otherwise unable to start the year with adequate supplies. TPC’s grant of $30,000 helped fund the development of a strategic plan and supported their High School Plus program, which helps fill gaps in financial aid, and their College Mentor program, which recruits, trains, and supports volunteers to serve as mentors for their students.

SOWMA completed its strategic plan in April and is very excited that this plan will help take the organization to the next level of growth and sustainability. As many of you know, TPC member Cathleen Cavanaugh joined SOWMA’s Board of Directors after serving as liaison during the first year of funding. Cathleen has served on the Strategic Planning Committee and has been very active in fundraising efforts for SOWMA. She was recently nominated to serve as Secretary/Clerk for Fiscal Year 2018.

TPC funding helped students in many ways: one was able to move onto campus during spring semester when she lost her off-campus housing; others received help after the redevelopment of SOWMA’s College Mentor Training Program. Two stories in particular illustrate how the partnership between SOWMA and TPC directly impact the lives of young people bent on getting a good education. Evena, who will be a junior in college next year, has been surviving and living on her own since her senior year at Brockton High School. She was at risk for moving into an adult shelter but was able to secure campus housing at UMass Dartmouth thanks to the funding from TPC. Evena recently got her driver’s license and has managed to juggle two jobs while keeping up with her studies. She is on track to not only be the first to graduate from high school in her family, but to also graduate college. Another young woman, Sade, recently graduated from Elms College with a nursing degree. She will be taking her state boards this summer, with TPC funding helping to defray the associated costs. Sade, who lived in an adult shelter during her senior year in high school, is an unaccompanied yet confident youth with a very bright future!

Finally, SOWMA’s Founder and ED, Cheryl Opper, would like to pass along the following to TPC members. “Most of all, I am grateful for the wonderful women I have met through our partnership with TPC. I love how women of all ages, from all backgrounds, are investing their time, money, hearts, and souls to make the world a better place. It has been an honor to work with The Philanthropy Connection for the past two years. Thank you for believing in our mission and for helping us change the lives of children impacted by poverty and homelessness. Your investment counts!”