The Shine Project
The Shine Project: Sending Students to College in Style
The Shine Project is the brainchild of Ashley LeMieux, something she was inspired to create shortly before graduating from college while she was working at an internship in an inner city high school in Phoenix, Arizona. Desperately searching for a job that would allow her to write, serve others, and therefore be fulfilled, she was coming up empty-handed until she taught a course called AVID which prepares juniors and seniors for college.
Many of the youths she met wanted to become first-generation college students, but real life, hard lives were preventing that. Some missed school due to lack of bus fare, others because they had to watch younger siblings, and even those who did attend faced hardships such as sleeping on cold tile floors. LeMieux had found her purpose- to find the resources these kids needed to realize their inner potential.
At the same time, she had started a blog, using “shine” as her word of the year, to reach out to other women who might be feeling the same things she was- anxiety that she might fail, might not fulfill her dreams, to create a community that could motivate each other to do the hard things in life in order to accomplish their goals. She titled it “The Shine Project.” And once she met those inner city students in Arizona, she decided to use the blog to be a voice for them. That first year, she and her readers sent seven students to college on scholarships.
But she wanted to do more. LeMieux felt she needed to build a business where she could employ these students and those reading her blog could purchase products from them, creating a very real connection between the two. Even though she had never created a piece of jewelry in her life, she taught her students (and herself too) how, selling those bracelets to her readers who could then look at their wrists every day, literally wearing change.
After starting out with only $300 in jewelry supplies, The Shine Project now has a headquarters in Phoenix, a brick and mortar store in East Nashville, their products are sold in boutiques around the country, and most importantly, they’ve sent 80 students to college. Some are now entering the workforce and being promoted within the companies where they too now shine.