Refurbished bus turned mobile classroom helping to educate San Francisco’s disadvantaged adults

San Francisco nonprofit Five Keys has transformed a city bus into a mobile classroom, providing a space for the city’s disadvantaged residents to learn.

The first-of-its-kind mobile classroom has a library, a cozy study nook, Internet access, Chromebooks, white boards, desks, and a teacher.

The refurbished bus, which is emblazoned with the tagline The Self-Determination Project, is equipped with all the resources, equipment, supplies, and facilities needed to allow 5,000 adults to pursue higher education for free.

Launched by Five Keys in 2017, the mobile classroom travels through some of the poorest neighbourhoods and housing projects of San Francisco, offering education services to single parents, students who don’t have access to transportation, and young people who do not want to cross gang territories.

The school, which is able to serve more than 60 students each week, is open to everyone in the neighbourhood over the age of 18. Students have a regular teacher during their scheduled class time on the bus and work towards graduation through independent study on other days.

Five Keys student Cindy Johnson said: “I love Five Keys because it’s given me a second chance. The teachers are like family. I wish they would have had this when my kids were growing because it would have motivated them to finish school.”

The Self-Determination Project was possible by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, who donated the bus, and Google, who shelled out $100,000 to make the project possible.

Five Keys, which is a network of brick-and-mortar learning centres and charter schools throughout the Bay Area, was founded in 2003 when the organisation created the nation’s first county jail charter school.

Five Keys

Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about sustainable lifestyle and green living for publications, and offers content services to planet-friendly businesses. Find out more at



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