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OYA Offers Innovative Education Options To At-risk Youth

SALEM, Ore., June 13, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- As the first round of Oregon Youth Authority (OYA) kids graduate from their facility's high school this weekend, the agency is introducing a first-of-its-kind program to help troubled youth catch up on educational opportunities they missed before incarceration.

Known as Education Portal, the program offers free, online college courses that lead to widely accepted college credit. Oregon will be the first state in the nation to offer an array of college courses to juvenile offenders.

Because kids have limited internet access in OYA facilities during school hours, they will have more opportunities to learn from college video DVDs after school. Using Education Portal, youth can earn credit for the first two years of college and significantly reduce the time and cost of earning a degree.

"We who work with troubled kids are only too aware of the school-to-prison pipeline," said OYA Director Fariborz Pakseresht. "When at-risk youth arrive at OYA, they are often years behind in high school, have learning disabilities, and have suffered from abuse and neglect. We are deeply grateful to Education Portal for this partnership that offers kids a chance to make up for lost time and educational opportunities."   

Each DVD contains a series of 5-minute lectures on math, English or other topics taught by experienced instructors. Each lecture is followed by a brief quiz that is instantly graded.  The courses are designed specifically to help OYA youth pass credit-granting exams such as the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) test. CLEP credit is accepted by nearly 3,000 colleges and universities nationwide.

"We are proud to partner with OYA's efforts to bring college education to incarcerated students and reduce recidivism," said Ben Wilson, Education Portal president.

Approximately 300 of the more than 800 youth in OYA's 10 facilities statewide are eligible to participate in the Education Portal program. After they leave OYA's care, they can continue learning by using the company's internet-based courses.

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