Ford Motor Company Fund and UAW Ford today announced a grant of $350,000 to pilot an innovative new education program that will bring teams of teachers into the Louisville Assembly Plant to experience first-hand the work situations their students will face.
The program, called the “Ford NGL Collaborative Learning Externship (CLE),” is aimed at building real-world partnerships between teachers, students, and manufacturing in Louisville, a Ford Next Generation Learning (NGL) community.
Ford NGL, which is part of the Ford Fund, helps prepare students for college and career by bridging the gap between classroom learning and the lessons of actual workplace experience. The grant is part of $1 million in new scholarships, grants, and career outreach programs that the Ford Fund, Ford’s philanthropic arm, is launching globally this month to further its commitment to education.
“The CLE will help engage students in their field of interest by teaching lessons and skills in the real-world context of a career,” said Bill Dirksen, Ford vice president, Labor Affairs. “It will make the future workforce stronger because teachers will better understand the needs of business, and students will benefit by developing the skills and workplace knowledge necessary to get the good jobs.”
The grant announced today by Ford and UAW at the NGL Conference, will fund professional development over two years and also broaden the concept to include other types of business.
“The UAW has a long history of supporting the communities in which we work and live and we believe education is the foundation on which dreams are brought to life,” said Jimmy Settles, Jr., vice president and director, UAW National Ford Department. “The Ford NGL Coordinated Learning Externship provides a great opportunity to help teachers better understand the skills students need to be successful in the future and it helps business understand how they can support educators in this important work.”
Teams of teachers from two Jeffersontown High School career academies helped pilot the program this summer by spending two days inside Ford’s Louisville Assembly Plant. The 30 teachers were able to observe the many steps involved in building automobiles – from the timing and teamwork on the assembly line to the problem solving when issues arise. The teachers took what they learned back to the classroom to strengthen a student project to build life-sized cardboard boats. Nearly 2,000 students will benefit from the first phase of the CLE program, but that number is expected to grow as more communities implement the plan.
Today, Ford also announces sponsorship of the Design and Build academies through the launch of a “Powered by Ford” pilot program at Jeffersontown High School. As part of the program, which focuses on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), Ford Motor Company will provide the academies with scholarships for students, equipment, mentors for student projects and professional development for teachers among other needed support.
“The development of career academies provides our students with the applied learning and authentic experiences needed to meet the demands of the global marketplace,” said Dr. Donna Hargens, superintendent, Jefferson County Public Schools. “Ford’s generous support of these STEM academies at Jeffersontown High School will enhance instruction and better prepare our students for successful careers.”
Ford Fund is planning to expand the “Powered by Ford” program to include additional plant communities in the future.
As a Ford NGL community, Louisville is part of a national network of participating school districts that receive guidance and technical assistance from the Ford NGL team, and share resources and best practices with other Ford NGL communities. The goal is to boost student performance, improve student readiness for college and/or a high-skill career, and ultimately attract more high-paying jobs to the community.