Rockford Named a Ford Next Generation Learning Community

Oct. 21, 2014 — Rockford Public Schools announced it has been named a Ford Next Generation Learning Community. Rockford is now among 17 communities in the nation to receive the distinction.

The distinction celebrates the high school redesign in the Rockford Public Schools, which began with the rollout of the Academy model in 2010. Now RPS 205 will work toward becoming a Model Community by 2016, so Rockford can host visitors from other communities hoping to start career academies in their schools. RPS 205 celebrates the Ford NGL distinction with its community partners, the Rockford Area Economic Development Council and Alignment Rockford.

The vision for the College and Career Academies of Rockford is that every high school student will graduate from RPS 205 ready for college and/or a career. High school career academies are a proven national model in which students learn in a career-centered or interest-themed environment to make learning more relevant and engaging. Ford Next Generation Learning is nationally recognized for its unique approach to meaningful engagement of key community stakeholders to transform existing public high schools into career academies where students learn their academics through the lens of a potential career. At the core of the program is a framework of essential practices that guides a community in development of its master plan.

Jefferson High School Students representing the RPS 205 Career Academies.

Jefferson High School Students representing the RPS 205 Career Academies.

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

Leaders from RPS 205 and the Rockford community were guided by Alignment Nashville, a Ford Next Generation Learning Community, to redesign RPS 205 high schools. Ford NGL recognizes schools across the country — and now Rockford — as innovators of education.

“We thank Ford Next Generation Learning for recognizing the hard work our staff, students and community partners are doing in Rockford,” said Superintendent Ehren Jarrett. “Nashville was the first community to receive a Model Community designation, and we hope to follow their lead. And just as we’ve learned from Nashville and the Academies of Nashville, we hope other districts can learn from us.”

With this recognition, Rockford 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 Rockford’s commitment to prepare students for high-wage, high-skill jobs in the community

About Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services: Ford Motor Company Fund and Community Services works with community partners to advance driving safety, education and community life. For more than 60 years, Ford Motor Company Fund has operated with ongoing funding from Ford Motor Company. The award-winning Ford Driving Skills for Life program teaches new drivers through a variety of hands-on and interactive methods. Innovation in education is encouraged through national programs that enhance high school learning and provide college scholarships and university grants. Through the Ford Volunteer Corps, 25,000 Ford employees and dealers work on projects each year that better their communities in more than 20 countries. For more information, visit

About Rockford Public Schools: RPS 205 offers a rich and varied curriculum to its 29,000 students. It is one of the largest school districts in Illinois and the second-largest employer in the Rockford region. The district focuses on Readiness Rocks, five initiatives aimed at improving student achievement, making best use of resources and making RPS 205 a desirable and successful school district. Those initiatives are: College and Career Readiness, Seven Periods to Success, 21st Century Learning Environments, Preschool for All and College for All.

About College & Career Academies of Rockford: RPS 205 has launched five initiatives called Readiness Rocks to create a school district that is first class in achievement and pride. College and Career Readiness is the first of those five initiatives to be implemented. Redesigning the high school experience will help ensure that graduating students are better prepared for college or the workforce. The plan involves creating academies or small learning communities within each high school.


For more information:

Earl Dotson Jr., Chief of Communications, RPS 205

815-966-5299, Earl.dotson@rps205,com

Bridget French, Executive Director, Alignment Rockford


Photos Submitted by:
Alan León, MAT
Audio/Video Production Manager
Rockford Public Schools