New Directions Education Project Celebrates 10 years

Press Release Date: 

Blue Mountain Community College,

Date:  June 14, 2010
Contact:  Karen L. Hill, Public Relations, 541-278-5933 or 541-379-2753







A special ceremony at Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution June 10 celebrated the conferring of an associate of arts Oregon transfer degree from Blue Mountain Community College on a student from the New Directions Education Project (NDEP).  It also commemorated the tenth anniversary of the New Directions Education Project which has provided college transfer classes for 175 inmate students since the spring of 2000.  Another NDEP student was honored for having received an associate degree from the University of Indiana, though 30 of his credits came from NDEP classes at EOCI. 

Co-founder Evelyn Hanks reminisced about how, after Pell Grants were eliminated for inmate students, she and Jan Acker initiated the beginning of the New Directions Education Project to solicit private contributions to help fund college transfer classes and buy textbooks for EOCI inmates.  The first class, taught by BMCC speech instructor Doug Radke, was offered spring term 2000.   Now, ten years later, one inmate who started in that first class graduated with an associate degree.  Approximately 58 EOCI inmates took NDEP classes this year with the goal of starting or continuing their college careers and working toward an associate degree. Inmates go through a stringent selection process and are expected to pay part of their instructional expenses.   

Those participating in the celebration were the two graduates, NDEP co-founder Evelyn Hanks and NDEP board president Larry Nye, EOCI superintendent Rick Coursey; EOCI assistant superintendent of transitional services Brigitte Amsberry, BMCC president John Turner, BMCC associate vice-president Dan Lange, BMCC associate vice-president for corrections education Dan Koopman, and  BMCC instructors Doug Radke and Gary Parker,

The NDEP board, BMCC and EOCI staff, the graduates’ families, current NDEP students, and individual donors were recognized. Kathleen Larson of the Larson Legacy, who was in attendance, was recognized for her family foundation’s continuing support of the NDEP program. Other foundations and civic groups who were thanked were US Bancorp Foundation, Wildhorse Foundation, Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Meyer Memorial Trust, Red and Gena Leonard Foundation, Wal-Mart, Altrusa Club, Lions Club and several churches of the area.