Eastern Kentucky has struggled for decades and with jobs disappearing and college bound students never returning, that struggle is greater today than ever before. Students and teachers in this region must be equipped with 21st century skills needed to entice industry to move into the region.


To create transformational change with our SOAR STEM initiative by creating a workforce ready for high skill/wage jobs in a targeted 25 county region. Enhance teachers in SOAR region through National Board Certification program that concentrates on developing and retaining quality STEM based educators.  Create a clustering of STEM K-12 Pathway’s through Project Lead The Way to create a regionally based workforce needed for this decade of change. Implement an ecosystem to foster and develop skillsets necessary to attract economic development opportunities to the region.


Implementation of this ecosystem vision throughout the region can make a decade of change and create economic opportunities that currently do not exist. We are looking for government and major corporate sponsors to help offset the cost of the implementation by asking for them to invest in this future workforce. We believe the transformational change can only be achieved through preparing a future workforce and presenting opportunities for investments in this depressed area. For a very small investment per student per year, the SOAR STEM initiative can result in millions of dollars of economic development opportunities for this troubled region through the development of a future skilled workforce for advanced manufacturing.

SOAR-STEM Infograph

Our Supporters

Kentucky Association of Manufacturers Logo
MSU Logo
Foundation for Kentucky Industry Logo
Kentucky Education Workforce and Development Cabinet
Ky Cabinet for Economic Development
Kentucky Association of Manufacturers Logo
Department for Local Government Logo
Interapt Logo
Southeast KCTCS
Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education Logo
Appalachian Regional Commision Logo
Project Lead The Way
University of Pikeville Logo
Kentucky Educational Development Corporation Logo
Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative Logo
Lockheed Martin
5 Million raised

National Board Certification for Teachers

Recognized as the gold standard in teacher certification, the National Board believes higher standards for teachers means better learning for students. Today only a small fraction of America’s teachers—about three percent—are Board-certified. To achieve the changes in education that we seek for all students, that number must grow dramatically to represent the majority of teachers in the profession. In other respected professions such as medicine, achieving Board certification is the norm, not the exception. It’s also a mark of quality that is widely recognized and demanded by the public. To transform teaching, we are working to strengthen a continuum within teaching that leads from pre-service teacher preparation to accomplished practice, then to a variety of leadership roles within the teaching profession.

National Board Certified Teacher Logo

Project Lead The Way

Project Lead The Way (PLTW) is the nation’s leading provider of K-12 STEM programs. PLTW’s world-class curriculum and high-quality teacher professional development model, combined with an engaged network of educators and corporate and community partners, help students develop the skills necessary to succeed in our global economy. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, PLTW delivers programs to more than 6,500 elementary, middle, and high schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. PLTW schools can be found in rural, urban, and suburban districts; across all income levels; as well as in public, private, and charter schools. PLTW’s success in preparing students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed has been recognized by colleges and universities, Fortune 500 businesses, and numerous national organizations including Change the Equation, the Social Impact Exchange, and more.

Project Lead the Way logo

Want to Know More?


SOAR kicks off STEM-based education, workforce initiative

64 teachers in eastern Kentucky enrolled in program MANCHESTER — Gov. Steve Beshear and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, co-chairs of SOAR – Shaping Our Appalachian Region, joined educators from 22 eastern Kentucky school districts at Clay County High School to help kick-off an...

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Teachers participating in SOAR

MANCHESTER — Gov. Steve Beshear and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, co-chairs of Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR), joined educators from 22 eastern Kentucky school districts at Clay County High School to help kick-off an innovative three phase education and workforce...

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Letters of Support


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Shaping Our Appalachian Region

In early fall of 2012, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and Kentucky 5th District Congressman Hal Rogers began discussing the possibility of collaborating, across political party lines, to create an initiative to address the challenges facing Eastern Kentucky. They specifically were not interested in yet another of the serial task forces, blue ribbon panels or commissions, which have analyzed and strategized over this region for half a century. Rather, they were considering an event or initiative that might enable the region to reassess its current challenges, and discuss ideas or innovations already underway which could be leveraged or aligned to capture emergent regional development opportunities. But above all else, they hoped to create a neutral venue for the region’s organizations, institutions, businesses, leaders, and citizens to discuss a new beginning, hope, vision, and collaboration.