OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Francis Tuttle Technology Center‘s “Project Hope” teaches necessary skills to Oklahoma youth.

According to Francis Tuttle Technology Center, Project Hope is a program designed for students who have dropped out or are at risk of dropping out. The program focuses on academic instruction, career training and life skills training.

Now, driver’s education is also an option for students.

“I’ve worked with students for a long-time and we ask them, what is it that you guys need? And a lot of times they say transportation is a big hurdle,” said Vera Cheek, a Francis Tuttle advisor.

Project Hope is opening doors for students to earn their driver’s training as well as continue their education and keep their independence.

“Honestly, if Project Hope didn’t exist, I don’t think I would be able to get my high school diploma. I feel like it helps a lot because a lot of people sometimes still have transportation to school and they also have other things going on in their lives. Like me, myself, I have a son and I would like to drive him to his doctor’s appointments, to daycare, to little events, but at the moment I’m having to rely on other people. But soon enough I won’t have to,” said Jamy McSmith, a Francis Tuttle Project Hope student.

Students participating in the driver’s training program go during their lunch hour, so students are able to bring their lunches and eat in class.

“We take a couple of tests, we watch videos and different stuff to help them understand what they need to be doing when they go out and hit the road. And after we’ve completed our 10 hours of class, we’re going to start doing our 6 hours of driving,” said Ryan Merkley, a driving instructor at Merkley’s Driving School.

Francis Tuttle says students can earn their high school diploma, get one-on-one time with educators, and gain career training for future endeavors. Driver’s education is available for students in the Project Hope program to assist them with transportation struggles.

Project Hope is also free, thanks to a recent grant to the Francis Tuttle Foundation from AT&T.

“It’s free and like I would say, is more direct since it’s only like 15 kids in the class, it’s more direct and you get to really hear and be able to listen and learn,” said Project Hope student, Jalany Byrdsong.

Executive Director of the Francis Tuttle Foundation, Lori Alspaugh, says those who donated to the foundation want to see Project Hope students succeed. Their inspiring stories reassured donors they are making a good investment.

“Project Hope really spoke to them. They really wanted to see the students in this program thrive. And once we talked about the obstacles that they were overcoming on their own, they felt like it was a really good investment,” said Alspaugh.