Chanel Ashley-Jones

When students set out to build for a brighter future, it motivates the next generation of children who walk through those school hallways, learn in those same classrooms, and aspire to make a difference to replicate those same efforts. Sometimes, all it takes is seeing that source of inspiration… or in this case, reading it.

Chanel Ashley-Jones, educator at Harmony School of Innovation, learned her students read an article about a high school graduate who built porches for the school he once attended and were eager to take a page out of that book to construct something of their own for the school they are currently enrolled in. Thanks to Power of the Dollar® members, she was awarded a $1,000 grant in December 2022 for her “Project Bench” idea and she went on to purchase benches for her students to install, which helped create a social setting for kids to relax, enjoy, and take in the sights and sounds outside.

a social setting for kids to relax

A social setting for kids to relax

“The students wanted to do this project and Ms. Jones said, ‘Instead of trying to only just fundraise, let’s see if we have some grants available out there,’” said Dazetrica Gray, educator at Harmony School of Innovation and project co-captain. “Once the grant was given, they [the students] had to figure out how to spend the money. Then when the things came, they read the instructions and put it together themselves.”

Dedicating their free time to presenting the idea, researching the materials needed to make it happen, and managing it all within a certain budget, the students came together and used this as an opportunity to not just carry on the legacy of who inspired them, but to also leave a lasting impact with their school. Collaborating along the way, the students at Harmony School of Innovation leaned on each other to bring imagination to reality and the ability to make it all possible is something that has made a monumental impact in their lives, as well as the teachers who work with them.

“They all became a tight-knit group relying on each other,” said Gray. “They knew each other’s strengths. It gave them that buy-in of ‘I did this’. Now every time when they come by, they see those benches and are like, ‘we did that’! I was proud of them!”

Looking to help local schools, invest in your community, and support educators like Chanel Ashley-Jones? Make a tangible, positive impact by joining the collective giving of our Power of the Dollar® membership. Learn more at, and together, we can create pathways that lead to better lives and stronger communities.