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State Farm grant to provide driver's training for foster children at OSU-OKC

OKLAHOMA CITY – A pilot program to provide free driver’s education training and licensing exams to youth in foster care will continue thanks to a $10,000 grant from State Farm Insurance Co.

Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City launched the Road to Independence program last year with initial funding provided by State Farm.  The program targets drivers ages 15½ to 20 currently or formerly in foster care.

“It’s a great idea and we wanted to help them get a leg up,” said Bill Hughes, director of the Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City’s Precision Driving Training Center. “A lot of foster kids haven’t had an opportunity to take driver’s education. They can’t get to work. They can’t even go apply for a job.”

Driver’s education once was taught in most high schools, but no longer. The only alternative for most students is to pay about $400 for training and testing from a private company.

State Farm – a longtime supporter of the OSU-OKC’s Staying Alive defensive driving program for teens and young adults – learned about the need and offered to cover the cost for youth in foster care.

The Road to Independence program provides the driver’s training and licensing exam for participants. Hughes said 15 students have completed the program.

“It’s been a success,” Hughes said. “But it’s not going as fast as we’d like because of limitations with COVID-19.”

Classes currently are limited to 15 students. One-third of the spots are for Road to Independence participants. Hundreds more are on a waiting list.

Driver’s education training at OSU-OKC normally costs $360. It consists of 10 hours of classroom instruction at the Precision Driving Training Center, 3501 W Reno Ave., followed by hands-on driver training with an instructor. The classroom instruction is offered one weekend each month.

Eligible students can register at https://apply.osuokc.edu/register/R2I to receive more information about the Road to Independence program and future openings.