Growing vegetables is a great way to be cost-effective and healthy all at the same time. It also educates us on how to take care of them as they continue to develop. Serving as great sources of energy, cultivating our own produce can inspire others in our community to embrace sustainable practices.

Cynthia Cuellar, educator at Bob Hope Elementary, saw an opportunity for her students to learn sustainability through management of natural resources that would ultimately foster economic and social development by way of a classroom garden. Thanks to Power of the Dollar® members, she was awarded a $1,000 grant in December 2022 for her “Growing with Sustainability” project and purchased a hydroponic garden system and has been a huge difference-maker for her students!

hydroponic lettuce grower

The hydroponic garden tower

“I looked into the hydroponic lettuce grower, and I thought this would be an amazing opportunity for our students to see how vegetables are grown inside,” said Cuellar. “Now they are able to grow their own food inside their apartment or inside their home that they might not have a yard to really do a garden bed, so that’s what motivated me.”

Towering at just over five-feet tall and housing an assortment of vegetables, the hydroponic indoor garden system has become a mainstay in the classroom and has educated her students on how to nurse, harvest, and gain firsthand knowledge of how produce is grown. The project has given the students a lifelong appreciation for sustainability and making conscious choices that positively impact the environment and their own well-being.

“They want to come and work on the garden… they even tell me ‘Miss, I started growing my own plants at home,’” she said. “They’re excited. They want to do that at their home and so that kind of makes me feel wonderful that I’m inspiring them to do that. With food prices right now and knowing that they can grow their own food at home or knowing they don’t have to go spend all this money is awesome!”

Looking to help local schools, invest in your community, and support educators like Cynthia Cuellar? 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.