When Upper School faculty member Chris Frisby founded the Ashley Hall Investment Group five years ago, his mission was twofold: give students hands-on experience investing money in the stock market and give back to the community. This week, the group made local news headlines showing just how much their hard work has paid off.

After impressively turning $10,000 into $17,000, Frisby’s students teamed up with members of the student council and philanthropy board to donate their earnings to the Water Wellness Mission, a charity that builds wells for residents of the Sea Islands in need. Money raised by the Investment Club went directly toward installing a new water filtration system at a home that previously had no access to drinking water, and the girls got to watch the process from start to finish.

“It’s really cool to see that these things actually have an impact and just really getting to see how this really affects people,” says junior Ellerbe Mendez. “We hear about it, we are aware, but being able to really see it and see the people it’s affecting is really impactful.”

Water sustainability issues have been woven throughout the K-12 curriculum all year as a part of Ashley Hall’s “A Year of Water” theme. Students have learned about water scarcity throughout the world, but also that it’s not exclusive to less developed countries. “In our own backyard, we still have people who don’t have access to clean water,” says Frisby.

Around 25 percent of residents on Wadmalaw Island live below the poverty line. As a result, many families are forced to buy 100 percent of their drinking water due to wells that smell and have visible signs of rust. “Not all well needs are the same,” co-program director of the Water Wellness Mission John Carpenter told students. “But the need for fresh water is the same. The goal is getting clear, drinkable water that any of us would drink at home in everyone’s home.”

Ashley Hall funded the 239th water filtration system the charity has installed. The latest recipient was Michael Johnson who was born and raised on Wadmalaw Island. He lives in his childhood home with his daughter, and until now, their water was too polluted to drink.

“Now we don’t have to worry about the problem we had before. I really appreciate what Ashley Hall students are doing and the organization that got together and did this for me,” Johnson told WCBD News 2 in front of his home where students met him.

Over 97 percent of all donations to Water Wellness Mission go to the families in need. Each combination water well and filtration system that provides safe water for drinking and cooking is approximately $6,700, according to the charity.

“Partnering with Water Wellness Mission and taking the Investment Club’s funds and investing it into this charity is the perfect fit for us,” says Ashley Hall’s Global Education Coordinator Jonathan Perkins. “It helps the girls understand philanthropy, but also that their actions are making a difference.”

Learn more about Water Wellness Mission