Project Description


RGV LEAD manages a network known as the Academies of the Rio Grande Valley, comprised of school districts and high school campuses that utilize a career academy model founded on Ford Next Generation Learning (Ford NGL) strategies.

The Ford NGL career academy model promotes experiential learning and proactive business and civic engagement in schools.  RGV LEAD introduced Ford NGL to the Valley in 2014, and eight school districts began implementing academies in 2015-2016.  In December 2016, Ford NGL national leadership honored the Academies of the Rio Grande Valley as an official Ford NGL Designated Region. Current participants are Academy leaders from five school districts that participated in the original project.

RGV LEAD organized the Rio Grande Valley Academy Leaders’ Coalition (RGV ALC) to provide an opportunity for regional Academy Leaders to meet and share program successes and challenges.

Education is the foundation for success. It is key to making lives better, creating social change, and building sustainable communities. RGV LEAD and FORD NGL work in partnership with school districts to improve student academic achievement.

Increasing student attendance, a sharper focus on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math), a highly-skilled talent pipeline for local businesses, igniting early college and career planning, and enhanced community prosperity for all.

RGV LEAD would like to expand the Academy network to include campuses utilizing the Ford NGL model and other non-Ford NGL career academy campuses and P-TECH campuses.

With the global economy changing so quickly, high schools must become responsive places where students engage in real-world problem solving and learn to think flexibly, strategically, and innovatively.

In early 2020, COVID-19 was discovered.  Governors across the country declared states of emergencies as the virus spread.  They suspended instruction for pupils in kindergarten through grade 12 for the remainder of the 2019- 2020 school year. School buildings were also to remain closed. Teachers and students across the states were left scrambling for how and if student education could continue in some form and what it meant for everything from graduations to extracurricular activities to when schools might open again.

That meant a massive letdown for students in the Rio Grande Valley (The Valley). Caring teachers and school administrators were scrambling to figure out what to do next.

It’s natural for our students in the academies to be working on projects. It’s about problem-solving and critical thinking and the ability to collaborate, communicate, and adapt the things our business world, our industrial world, and our technological world are looking for in future employees.” For The Valley students, the whole process has been a teaching and learning experience.

During the COVID pandemic, RGV LEAD continued to hold meetings virtually for the Rio Grande Valley Academy Leaders’ Coalition. Representatives participated in a virtual tour from the Port of Brownsville and could network and collaborate with the Port Director.  The Coalition Members also participated in an industry panel from the following career clusters: Health Science; Law and Public Service; and Business, Finance, and Marketing.

RGV LEAD will continue to work with the RGV ALC to strengthen the project’s positive components and address weaknesses. The coalition consists of regional education and workforce leaders collaborating to learn and implement new research-based best practices that engage students, teachers, and employers.

The focus of the RGV ALC is on the National Standards of Practice for Career Academies, specifically on integrating more work-based learning initiatives.

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