First and foremost, students are at the center of everything we do.

We help communities prepare the future scientists, inventors, public servants, and entrepreneurs who will apply their passion and expertise to improving the world for both their generation and those to come. 

A collaborative community-driven approach to achieve the following outcomes: (1) increased community prosperity shared by all; (2) a strengthened talent pipeline; (3) young people prepared for college, careers, lifelong learning, and leadership; (4) educational equity and justice for all; and (5) the capacity to contribute and go further.


What We Value

Ford NGL comprises a network of mutually supportive communities that encourage one another to continuously improve. They seek opportunities to innovate and go further in their quest to increase student achievement, improve workforce and economic development outcomes, and ultimately achieve community prosperity. The Ford NGL communities share a set of common values, which guide the communities’ work and their contributions to the network. Our guiding principles include the following:

  • Igniting passion: Ford NGL communities are committed to preparing all students for success in college, careers, and life, as well as helping students ignite their passion as lifelong learners.

  • Cultivating trust: Ford NGL communities foster a culture of collaboration in which everyone—students, teachers,

  • administrators, families, employers, postsecondary educators, and nonprofit and civic leaders—works together to build a climate of trust that welcomes all perspectives. The community stakeholders understand that in order to scale and sustain a successful career academy network, all stakeholders must be part of visioning, planning, implementing, sustaining, and going further.

  • Demonstrating leadership: Ford NGL communities are committed to modeling the practices we seek to see in transformed classrooms. They don’t take this role lightly—they understand the importance of cultivating student success and their obligation to demonstrate quality leadership.

  • Encouraging innovation: Ford NGL communities are always learning and adapting, demonstrating flexibility, and promoting innovation.


Ford NGL Framework

Ford NGL mobilizes educators, employers, and community leaders to prepare a new generation of young people who will graduate from high school ready for college, careers, and life—prepared to compete successfully in the 21st century economy. 

Ford NGL blends the expertise of stakeholders within and across communities. Three distinct but interconnected strands comprise the Ford NGL framework, which enables whole communities to design and carry out a long-term plan for revitalizing education.


Career and Interest-Themed Academies

Career and interest-themed academies serve as the Ford NGL practice model for transforming the secondary school experience. As a strong advocate on behalf of academies, Ford NGL recognizes that most skilled employment now requires a foundation of academic, 21st century, and technical knowledge and skills that must be mastered in high school, as well as additional education beyond high school. We believe that the most successful approach for high schools is one that infuses the high expectations and academic rigor of college preparatory academic programs with the real-world relevance and rigor of CTE. Such an integrated approach also promotes, supports, and accelerates a smooth transition to postsecondary education.

This approach can be carried out through academies, which may take several forms, including multiple career academies and other themed programs within a large high school, single-themed small or large high schools, and early-college high schools (which typically blend high school with two years of college).

Regardless of their specific structure, all effective programs share three key characteristics:

  • The career or thematic program of study selected by the student leverages an area of personal interest and integrates it with core academic knowledge. This integrated program of study is offered within a small learning community.

  • The academies are not stand-alone “boutique” programs but are part of a district strategy to offer a portfolio of approaches (“multiple pathways”) so that every student has the opportunity to choose a program that fits a personal interest.

  • The programs offer extensive real-world contact with adults currently working in the field or area of interest, and they enable students to earn dual enrollment and/or articulated college-level credits while still in high school.


 Benefits of the Ford NGL Network

Communities benefit from access to the Ford NGL network, which cultivates a spirit of innovation aimed at improving the practices used across our communities. Each Ford NGL community has a dedicated Ford NGL Coach, who supports and guides communities as they develop and implement a Ford NGL Master Plan to scale and sustain a career academy network and prepare students for high-skill, high-wage careers. Ongoing access to innovative approaches that emerge from the network help communities develop the local capacity to sustain community engagement and continue to transform the high school experience.

Specific support includes the following:

  • Seminars and workshops that introduce the Ford NGL framework and Essential Practices

  • A proven strategic planning process that provides a roadmap for phasing in the Essential Practices over three to five years

  • A dedicated Ford NGL team to guide and support the community through the strategic planning process

  • A guide to the process that includes examples of successful implementation and innovation

  • Access to innovative approaches and ongoing opportunities to collaborate with and learn from colleagues throughout the national Ford NGL network

  • Ford NGL University (, an online learning center that provides an inside look at and access to the valuable tools and resources used by communities that have been successful in planning and implementing Ford NGL

  • Peer-to-peer mentoring support on specific Essential Practices 

  • Professional development opportunities to build the capacity of community leaders and educators