Ford NGL and WCCS Accept Designation Award

Whitley County Consolidated Schools has been selected as the newest Ford Next Generation Learning (Ford NGL) community.  WCCS is now part of the Ford NGL national network supported by Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company.

Ford NGL is internationally recognized for its unique approach to transforming public high schools into career-themed academies that better prepare students for college and professional success in today’s competitive global economy while at the same time improving workforce outcomes and overall community prosperity.

Students in WCCS will have more intentional K-12 employability skills development and career exploration opportunities. They will have the opportunity to participate in authentic work-based learning opportunities, job shadows, and other career exploration activities with local employers.  Students will work closely with professionals in their field of interest, adding relevance to their studies and connecting classroom knowledge to success in the workplace.

To be selected as a Ford NGL community, WCCS developed a three-year master plan to ensure that all high school students are learning in career academies and the structures and processes are in place to engage local and regional employers and civic leaders in supporting and sustaining these activities.

WCCS celebrated the Designation Ceremony with community leaders, state officials, school administrators, students and staff on February 22, 2024, at Columbia City High School. 

"Today marks a transformative milestone that will positively impact student outcomes, workforce outcomes, and community prosperity, said Cheryl Carrier, Executive Director, Ford Next Generation Learning. “This is not merely a program; it is a K-12 transformation model and is the result of a long-standing shared vision between the district and the broader community to ensure students experience educational excellence while enjoying a joyful and purposeful education, preparing them for college, career, and life." 

Awards were presented to Lori Shipman and Lisa Smith for their commitment to the Ford NGL work and partnership with WCCS throughout the process. 

Ford NGL communities have demonstrated success through higher graduation rates, increased academic achievement, lower dropout rates, and industry certifications earned in high school. Districts in the Ford NGL network have shown increased student engagement at both the high school and postsecondary levels, developing more robust ties between educators and local employers, generating a stronger talent-development pipeline for high-demand careers, and boosting community prosperity.

Through the Ford NGL process, districts and their communities become partners and align their resources to improve student outcomes and support the region’s workforce and economic development needs.

Ford Next Generation Learning is supported by Ford Motor Company Fund, the philanthropic arm of Ford.

About Ford Motor Company Fund

As the global philanthropic arm of Ford Motor Company, Ford Fund focuses on providing access to essential services, education for the future of work and entrepreneurship opportunities for under-resourced and underrepresented communities. Ford Fund’s partnerships and programming are designed to be responsive to unique community needs, ensuring people have equitable opportunities to move forward. Harnessing Ford’s scale, resources and mobility expertise, Ford Fund drives meaningful impact through grantmaking, Ford Community Centers and employee volunteerism. For more information, visit or join us at @FordFund on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter



Media Contact: Kennedy Saggars, WCCS Marketing Director
Laura McDermott, WCCS Superintendent,