Tiaira Breaux spent much of her childhood in foster care, served time in the juvenile justice system and had to fight for sole custody of her three sons. But nothing, she said, nothing was tougher than learning high school algebra.

“I could not do it. My mind could just not process it. I was so irritated, I tried to quit,” said the 26-year-old Oakland resident. “Learning how to graph slopes was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.”

With the help of her teachers at the Five Keys Charter School, Breaux eventually mastered algebra and earned her high school equivalency degree. In September, she’s headed to the Academy of Art University in San Francisco with hopes of becoming a photography teacher.

She credits Five Keys with changing the course of her life.

“I was a broken person,” she said. “I had no confidence. If it wasn’t for Five Keys, I’d probably be crying somewhere, clubbing, getting drunk, I don’t know what. I wouldn’t be the confident woman I am now. They stuck by me. They were always in my corner.”

Five Keys is a San Francisco-based charter organization that helps students earn their high school diplomas or pass the general education development (GED) exam, after they’ve dropped out of traditional high schools. Many of the students are incarcerated or formerly incarcerated.

This month, Five Keys is adding a new feature to its network of 70 classrooms in the Bay Area and Los Angeles: a mobile classroom in San Francisco, intended to serve students who can’t make it to regular classrooms because they can’t afford the transportation costs or, in some cases, fear crossing into enemy gang territory.

The Five Keys mobile classroom is a refurbished bus from San Francisco’s Municipal Railway transit system that has been outfitted with laptops, desks, chairs and sofas, a small library, wi-fi and posters of the periodic table of elements and genres of literature. It can accommodate 15 students at a time, and will make four stops a week in neighborhoods with higher-than-average crime and poverty rates, such as Bayview-Hunter’s Point and the Sunnydale public housing project.

The mobile classroom was funded mostly through a $100,000 Google Impact Challenge grant. Google awards 25 such grants annually, based in part on a public voting process, to Bay Area nonprofits that demonstrate a strong positive impact on life in the Bay Area.

Read the whole story at HuffPost.



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