Five Keys Schools and Programs takes its name from our founder’s goal of giving students the tools, or “keys,” to healthy, productive and fulfilling lives. Five Keys knows that education is a critical tool in allowing people to make positive contributions to their families and communities, and to reach their full potential. Yet we recognize that many of the students we serve did not have a true opportunity to benefit from a high-quality education. Race and income should not impact the quality of a person’s education, yet six decades after the US Supreme Court ruled in Brown vs. the Board of Education against racially segregated education, people of color and low-incomes still receive unequal educations, with devastating results. The Stanford Center for Education Policy Analysis documents large achievement gaps for low-income, Latino and black students compared with white and higher-income students [1]. Over 80 percent of the incarcerated population are high school dropouts, according to a Northeastern University study [2]. The same study found that high school dropouts cost taxpayers $292,000 over the course of their lives. This evidence supports our belief that providing a second chance at an education is a cost-efficient way to restore struggling communities.  A research review by the Rand Corporation [3] found that those who receive a quality education or vocational training are significantly more likely to gain meaningful employment, and less likely to become incarcerated. Inmates who participate in correctional education programs have 43 percent lower odds of returning to prison, where annual incarceration rates often exceed $65,000. And for every $1 invested in correctional education we can save the country $4 to $5 dollars in future incarceration costs. An education may be the single most important determinant of a person's future. With this knowledge, Five Keys is redefining the role of education in restoring communities through academic, vocational and counseling programs. Five Keys provides students with an opportunity to earn a high school diploma, GED or obtain workforce training, while providing necessary supports to help them achieve their goals. We’ve had more than 2,100 graduates to date.



Five Keys partners with the workforce development community to help prepare
our students for life beyond school or incarceration.  Our curriculum includes Career Skills and Life Skills and additional courses related to careers in construction, welding, hospitality, sewing, dog grooming and other areas. Our partnerships throughout Northern and Southern California bring actual job opportunities, housing, and other necessary services that enable students to move promptly in
the right direction, upon their release. 



Many of our students have suffered trauma, violence or other life events that
hinder their ability to participate meaningfully in education and workforce
training programs. Our curriculum, programs and partnerships support wellness
and recovery from trauma or substance abuse.  We recognize that crime hurts everyone − victim, offender, and community − and creates an obligation to
make things right.



We recognize that healthy family relationships enable greater success in all
aspects of one’s life, including the ability to learn. Five Keys offers a robust parenting program that addresses our students’ roles in their families, whether they are parent, child or spouse. Family is also a common theme in many academic classes. The artwork and creative writing samples found in the “Student Work” section of our website beautifully display our students’ love of family and desire to build healthier family relationships.



Five Keys seeks to build safe, healthy communities and is fortunate to have a deep bench of community partners to support our students in their pursuit of the “Five Keys.” We have dozens of partnerships throughout the greater San Francisco and Los Angeles areas who support our students in removing barriers to their education and finding opportunities for success. We are always open to new partnerships that increase academic and vocational opportunities for our students and ensure a safe return to their communities.


[2] Sum, Andrew. (2009). “The consequences of dropping out of high school.”

Center for Labor Market Studies, Northeastern University, Boston, MA.  

[3] The Rand Corporation (2013). “Evaluating the effectiveness of Correctional Education: A Meta-Analysis of Programs That Provide Education to Incarcerated Adults.”

Call 415.734.3310 for information about enrolling in a school near you. Five Keys has established various programs at sites in seven counties: San Francisco, Los Angeles, Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano and San Bernardino.