In January 2019, the Little Rock Regional Chamber – in collaboration with the Little Rock, North Little Rock, Jacksonville/North Pulaski and Pulaski County Special school districts – enlisted the help of Ford Next Generation Learning to see whether a community-centered, career-focused educational model could improve outcomes in those district’s high schools.

NGL is the education initiative of the Ford Motor Company Fund, to explore a high school transformation model for the four districts in Pulaski County. The model is focused on preparing all students to be both college and career ready upon graduation. The goal of the Phase I study was to assess opportunities and feasibility across the four districts, highlight existing pockets of excellence, and provide a recommended path forward.


The results of that report were released in May 2019 and include a conclusion that the four Pulaski County public school districts, along with community and business partners, are in a strong position to undertake this transformation to improve student outcomes for all students in the districts. According to the report, “Based on our research, observations, and analysis, we believe Pulaski County districts are at a unique juncture and on the verge of community-connected education transformation. The local and regional workforce presents various high-wage, high-skill opportunities for students. Community leaders, educators (secondary and post-secondary), and employers in Pulaski County are interested in transformation and see this moment in time as the stars aligning for the change that this community needs.”

"We look forward to working with our colleagues in the other public school districts of Pulaski County as we engage in Phase II of NGL,” said Dr. Charles McNulty, Superintendent of the Pulaski County Special School District. “We're also excited about the continued substantial engagement of the business community and their efforts to provide our young people viable and empowering educational experiences."

What is the Academies of Central Arkansas? In short, it’s about elevating all public high schools across Pulaski County to ensure scholars are COLLEGE READY, CAREER READY and prepared to be life-long learners. Students are allowed to choose a learning experience that interests them while teachers are supported and given a voice through small learning communities and business partners. Best of all, it’s for all students with no application needed and at no additional cost.

The Academies of Central Arkansas better prepares students for both post-secondary pursuits and/or entering a career immediately after high school and teaches them the skills necessary to be successful in life. Students will have the opportunity to earn dual/concurrent credit and industry recognized certifications.

As a part of the Academies of Central Arkansas, students can expect more personalized learning with teachers who stay with them as they advance year over year. Students receive relevant learning that provides them with real-world experiences in their area of interest, which also results in academic improvement.

“Achieving education excellence for our future generations is critically important for moving Arkansas forward. As part of the business community invested in the educational and economic development success of our state, we saw this as a great opportunity to facilitate the progress and potential of our students and workforce.” – Laura Landreaux, President & CEO of Entergy Arkansas


The report outlines an inclusive community planning process for the districts to follow should they choose to move forward with this initiative. These include community visioning sessions and a representative master planning committee of over one hundred business and community members who would, in partnership with teachers and district officials, help write a master plan to guide the transformation efforts of the individual districts.

We will share more information this summer (2020). In the meantime, please visit Academies of Central Arkansas for details.