I once had a student, who had dropped out of school in the 8th grade. He was so far behind the first time we studied together, it took us 3 hours to complete a single 25 minute math section from the SAT. He didn't even know how to add fractions.
My paradigm as a teacher is to make myself progressively unnecessary. So, when he and I began, I was there all the time. Until I wasn't, and my student, the kid everyone thought of as failure, had scored over 2100 on the SAT.
It is possible to overcome the context of your environment.