One education organization is celebrating 25 years and looking forward to the future.
Forward in the Fifth focuses on keeping kids in school and pushing them forward into post-secondary education to better their quality of life.
Its goal is to improve the education environment in the fifth district.
"Yes, we have made tremendous progress, but we are not where we need to be," said Ewell Balltrip, President and CEO of the National Institute for Hometown Security.
The fifth district places dead last of out the 435 in education advancement.
"I'd like to see every person in the district have a high school diploma number one. Number two I'd like for us to be known for our educational achievement rather than our educational non-attainment," said U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers.
Officials say they knew overcoming education challenges would be difficult.
What is important is getting students career and college ready.
"The challenge today is not just to get an education, but the challenge is today what are you going to do with that education once you get it?" said Balltrip.
Forward in the Fifth focuses on uniting parents, educators, students, and businesses to improve education.
They want local communities to work together to get the attention education needs.
"We can come together on a greater plain as opposed to one or two trying to solve some of the challenges that we have," said Jim Tackett, Forward in the Fifth Executive Director.
Forward in the 5th plans to celebrate 25 more years.
U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers was awarded the first AppLE Award at the luncheon for being an Appalachian leader in education.