Ford names Louisville a Next Generation Learning City

March 5th, 2014 – The Lane Report

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (March 5, 2014) — Ford Motor Co. Fund has named Louisville as a Ford Next Generation Learning community, making the city and Jefferson County Public Schools part of a growing network of communities that are transforming public high schools into career-themed academies.

The goal of Ford Next Generation Learning is to guide communities in designing and implementing a plan that significantly boosts student performance and readiness for college and careers with a proven model.

During the last 18 months, more than 90 community leaders have worked together to craft a three-year master plan to guide community efforts to scale the number of students participating in career academies within Jefferson County’s 5-Star schools. The plan also calls for a board of senior business leaders who will focus on expanding employer engagement with the schools.

Jefferson County Public Schools will strengthen programs and curriculum at its 15 5-Star schools to:

♦ Assist the district in meeting its overarching goal of improving graduation rates from 76.5 percent in 2013 to 83.7 percent in 2016

♦ Decrease the student dropout rate to 3.8 percent by 2016

♦ Increase the percentage of students who are college- or career-ready from 51.3 percent in 2013 to 72.4 percent in 2016

♦ Have all students at 5-Star schools enrolled in a 5-Star career academy by 2016

Ford Fund and America’s Promise Alliance have come together to provide $75,000 to support the implementation of the Ford Next Generation Learning community master plan. Ford Fund is adding another $25,000, bringing the total grant to $100,000.

America’s Promise has a longstanding working relationship with both Ford and Louisville. Louisville is an America’s Promise GradNation community and an early adopter of the GradNation goal to increase graduation rates to 90 percent by 2020.

“Becoming a Ford NGL community will strengthen our commitment to making learning relevant for our students,” said JCPS Superintendent Dr. Donna Hargens. “Long term, I am confident that this will help to further boost student achievement and help the district achieve its vision of having all students graduate prepared.”

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer says the designation also supports the city’s economic development efforts.

“I always say that in today’s economy, people don’t follow jobs – jobs follow people. Businesses locate offices and plants where they know they can find a highly trained and skilled workforce,” he said. “This initiative supports our economy and gives our students a better foundation for success in the workforce.”

Ford Next Generation Learning is nationally recognized for its unique approach to meaningful engagement of key community stakeholders to transform existing public high schools. At the core of the program is a framework of essential practices that guides a community in development of its master plan.

“Our founder Henry Ford built an entire industry from his relentless focus on innovation,” said Cheryl Carrier, director, Ford Next Generation Learning. “Ford Next Generation Learning brings Ford’s proven success with innovation in business and manufacturing to the arena of public high school education. We are excited to expand our collaboration with Louisville to design and implement scalable and sustainable systems that provide students with the skills needed for success in a global economy.”

With this recognition, Louisville will:

♦ Receive ongoing guidance and technical assistance from the Ford Next Generation Learning leadership team as the community works to implement its plan

♦ Join the Ford Next Generation Learning community national network and access best practices and practical solutions from other participating communities through peer-to-peer mentoring, online resources, webinars and program institutes

♦ Leverage the Ford Next Generation Learning designation to encourage economic development for the region to help demonstrate Louisville’s commitment to prepare students for high-wage, high-skill jobs in the community

The development of the JCPS master plan was led by the Jefferson County Public Education Foundation (JCPEF) and chair Jim Allen. This effort included working with teams of business, civic, district, and community leaders, which aligns with the district’s Vision 2015 Strategic Plan.

“For JCPS to become the country’s best urban school district, everyone must be committed to this goal and the district’s success,” said Allen. “Through this work, we have gained greater community buy in and have strengthened the programs within the 5-star schools.”

The designation is being celebrated today at 10 a.m. at an event at Southern High School at 8620 Preston Highway.