POLK COUNTY, Fla. – Ford Motor Company Fund (Ford Fund) has named Polk County as a Ford Next Generation Learning (Ford NGL) Community — one of only 17 communities in the nation. Key to this designation is Polk County’s commitment to align community resources to support the growth and sustaining of high school Polk Academies with the vision that every high school student will be enrolled in an Academy within their own school over time.
Polk Academies prepare students for college and career by providing opportunities to:
•Learn academics through the lens of a career, making it more relevant and engaging;
•Work with professionals in the field who mentor them in their projects;
•Develop problem-solving, critical-thinking, communication and teamwork skills through engaging in real-world problems with their peers, business and post-secondary representatives;
•Explore possible career pathways so they can make more informed decisions about their future.
Ford NGL is nationally recognized for its unique approach to meaningfully engage key community stakeholders representing K-12, employers, post-secondary, and community-based organizations in the development of a long-term plan to develop academies within existing public high schools. At its core is a framework that provides successful practices for a community to use as they develop their plan and to ensure that academies are being prioritized to support workforce and economic development needs for the community.
Our founder Henry Ford built an entire industry from his relentless focus on innovation,” said Cheryl Carrier, director, Ford NGL at Ford Motor Company Fund. “Today communities are looking for innovative ways to leverage their resources to develop scalable and sustainable systems that provide students with the skills needed for success in a global economy. We are excited to expand our partnership with Polk County.”
“We are honored that our schools’ and community’s hard work is being recognized by Ford NGL at Ford Motor Company Fund, said John Small, Senior Director of Workforce Education. We have diverse communities, each one unique and wonderful in their own way. Education and the involvement of the community in our academies have the potential to be the catalyst that can unify Polk County providing a bright and better future for our children.”
With this recognition, Polk County will:
•Receive ongoing guidance and technical assistance from the Ford NGL Leadership Team as Polk County develops its plan and reviews their progress annually.
•Become members in the Ford NGL community national network, which will allow them to learn from other Ford NGL communities and tap into their expertise through peer-to-peer mentoring, online resources, webinars, and network institutes as well as share their successful practices with other Ford NGL communities.
•Leverage the Ford NGL designation to encourage economic development for the region by demonstrating that Polk County is preparing students for high-wage, high-skill jobs in the community.
Polk County was one of four communities in Florida that was supported by Workforce Florida, Inc. (WFI) to become a Ford NGL community. “Workforce Florida’s mission is to help improve the state’s business climate by helping students enter, remain and advance in the workforce,” said Dehryl McCall, Workforce Florida Program Manager. “The Ford NGL initiative advances this mission by helping local workforce, business, education, and economic development partners collaborate to build talent pipelines capable of sustaining and growing their local economies.”
“Polk Academies integrates the education of our children with the resources of our community - a way of educating children that prepares them for success in the 21st century,” said Doug Lockwood, Winter Haven Public Education Partnership