When Pheobe Taylor dropped out of school, she was 15 and barely able to read.
Now she's heading back to study with the help of some live-in literacy tutors - her four daughters.
Ms Taylor has dyslexia - a condition that makes it difficult for her to interpret the words on a page but went diagnosed through her teen years. For a long time, she struggled in silence, bullied at school and falling behind in class. Years later, when her girls needed help with their own reading, she felt powerless.
"I couldn't afford a tutor," she said. "Reading has been a life-long struggle for me but I didn't want that for them."
Fortunately, help arrived in the form of sponsorship money from The Smith Family, which also enrolled her two eldest girls Skylee and Hailie in their student reading program. Skylee, 17, started out reading to a senior student mentor when she was nine and her grades quickly shot up.
"We got on really well," she said. "At school, you're in a class of 20 kids, you're lucky to get more than a minute of their attention for your reading."
While Ms Taylor still struggles with day to day tasks like filling out forms, she has since returned to study herself. The Taylor household now meets regularly at the dinner table to go through their homework together.
"Since they've been doing [the programs], they've been teaching me the techniques too," Ms Taylor said. "It's changed everything."
Skylee said reading had brought the family closer together as they watched their mum grow in confidence.
Hailie, 15, had gone from graduating kindergarten unable to read to devouring novels in her spare time. Both girls have put their hands up to become Smith Family tutors to other kids in need of reading support. Their younger sisters each have developmental delays and are set to take part in the program themselves.
"[My sister] Serenity does the homework club after school and I've never seen her so excited about anything, even footy," Skylee said.
Olga Srbovski at The Smith Family said the statistics showed students from disadvantaged backgrounds were less likely to complete their schooling but that didn't have to be the story.
"It's incredible seeing students realise they can do anything they want," she said.
The charity is hoping to raise $4 million by the end of the month through its winter appeal to support 10,000 disadvantaged students nationally.
In Canberra, its estimated that about 37,000 people, including 8000 children, come from households living off less than $500 a week.
More than 4000 children across the ACT now take part in the Smith Family's programs.