Learning to Give, Philanthropy education resources that teach giving and civic engagement

Introduction to the Project
Lesson 1
Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework


The purpose of this lesson is to introduce the students to the Social Action Project.


Two Forty-Minute Class Periods


The purpose of this lesson is to introduce the students to the Social Action Project.


  • Time Line for Social Action Project (Attachment One)
  • List of Organizations (Attachment Two)
  • Sample Letter (Attachment Three)
  • Permissions Slip (Attachment Four)
Handout 1
Time Line for Social Action Project
Handout 2
List of Organizations
Handout 3
Sample Letter
Handout 4
Permission Slip

Instructional Procedure(s):

Anticipatory Set:
Ask students how old they think they will have to be before something that they do really “makes a difference.” Discuss whether age is a real factor or not. If so, why? If not, why not?


  • Introduce the term “philanthropy” to the class. Explain that, for the purposes of this lesson, it will be defined as “private action for the common good.” Ask students what they thinks this means in relationship to the question asked in the anticipatory set. Then give the class a brief overview of the Social Action Project. (See Time Line for Social Action Project, Attachment One.)

  • Ask students to brainstorm a list of social concerns and organizations. List them on the board. Distribute a list of additional issues and organizations (see List of Organizations, Attachment Two). Allow students to choose two or three organizations either from the class-generated list or Attachment Two.

  • Assign students to research philanthropic organizations and social issues using the materials provided by the instructor as a starting point. Send letters home to parents explaining the project (see Sample Letter, Attachment Three) and collect permission slips with parent signatures (see Permissions Slip, Attachment Four).


Students should have enough information to be able to choose an organization to research by Day Two.

Cross-Curriculum Extensions:

In computer class, the students should use the Internet to search for information about the issues that interest them. Students should find at least three Web sites which will give them additional information about the issues.

Bibliographical References:

  • Fugate, Sandy. For the Benefit of All: A History of Philanthropy in Michigan. Michigan: W.K. Kellogg Foundation, 1997.
  • Lewis, Barbara. The Kidís Guide to Service Projects: Over 500 Service Ideas for Young People Who Want to Make a Difference. Minnesota: Free Spirit Publishing, Inc., 1995.
  • Lewis, Barbara. The Kidís Guide to Social Action: How to Solve the Social Problems You Choose-And Turn Creative Thinking Into Positive Action. Minnesota: Free Spirit Publishing, Inc., 1991.
  • Profiles in Service: A Sample of Service and Volunteer Resources in Michigan, Volume II. Michigan: Michigan Community Service Commission, 1997.

Lesson Developed By:

Liz Hollingworth
Williamston Community Schools
Williamston Middle School
Williamston, MI 48895


Handout 1Print Handout 1

Time Line for Social Action Project

Week 1
  • Introduce the project in Language Arts class.
  • Conduct a Social Action Assembly. Invite volunteer coordinators from several community groups to speak to your classes, which will participate in the project.
  • Ask students to choose an organization based on a social issue, which interests them. If they already volunteer, they should be encouraged to continue to do so. In addition, those students already involved in a group that requires service to the school or community (such as the Honor Society) may be able to receive service credit for the volunteer work they do in preparation for the project.
  • In computer class or language arts class, assign students to write letters to the organizations requesting information
Week 2
  • Conduct the Phone Calling Lesson in Language Arts.
  • Mail letters.
Weeks 3-13
  • Students should make follow-up phone calls and gather information.
  • Students should also make appointments on their own to volunteer with an organization and interview people for their projects. Parents are a good resource to help organize group trips and carpools. Some organizations operate only Monday through Friday, so students may need to volunteer during Spring Break.
Week 14
  • Introduce the project in every class. Discuss each subject areaís requirements.
Weeks 15-17
  • Choose one day a week where the students will work on the project in every class.
Week 18
  • Allow students to work on the project every day with an Open Format. At the beginning of the day, each student will create a schedule for himself/herself. The school day will be broken down into hour-long periods, and the students will decide where they will go based on personal need. For example, a student who has already completed the tables and graphs for the math portion might not need to go to math class on Tuesday. Instead, he/she may prefer to work on creating some computer graphics and gluing them to his/her poster for Social Action Night. When that is finished, he/she may schedule some help from the language arts teacher for his/her speech. The schedule might look like this:

    8:00-9:00 Computer Lab
    9:00-10:00 Art Room
    10:00-11:00 Art Room
    11:00-12:00 Language Arts Room
    12:00-12:30 Lunch
    12:30-1:30 Regularly scheduled elective (Drama)
    1:30-2:30 Regularly scheduled elective (PE)
Week 19
  • Each subject areaís requirements should be due on a different day to avoid overwhelming the students.
  • Social Action Night: This is the final evening of celebration for parents, students, and community members. The students will give oral presentations about their experiences volunteering with the organizations.

Handout 2Print Handout 2

List of Organizations

Environmental Issues Greenpeace
Save the Rainforest
Local Wetlands Project
National Wildlife Federation
Homelessness Habitat for Humanity
Disaster Relief American Red Cross
Animal Welfare Humane Society
County Animal Shelter
Zoo Volunteers
Animal Rights PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals)
ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)
Sick Kids Make a Wish Foundation
Jerry Lewis Telethon
St. Jude Hospital
Books Friends of the Library
AAUW (American Association of University Women)
History Daughters of the American Revolution
Cancer American Cancer Society
Disabled People United Way
March of Dimes
Special Olympics
Other Countries Peace Corps
UNICEF (United Nations Childrenís Fund)
Elderly Nursing Home volunteers
AARP (American Association for Retired People)
AIDS Meals on Wheels
Triangle Foundation
Fire Local Volunteer Fire Fighters
School Volunteers PTSA (Parent Teacher Student Association)
School Board
Poor/Needy CROP WALK
Local Food Bank
Salvation Army
Soup Kitchens
Toys for Tots
Human Rights Amnesty International
Anti-Defamation League
Health Care for the Poor Free county medical clinics
Local Hospital-sponsored programs
Child Service Organizations Boy Scouts
Girl Scouts
Camp Fire Girls and Boys
Hospitals Candy Striper volunteers
Babies Planned Parenthood
Hospital-sponsored program for car seat usage
National Service Clubs with Local Branches Kiwanis
Lionís Club
Rotary International
Optimist Club
Womenís Issues League of Women Voters
National Organization for Women (NOW)

Handout 3Print Handout 3

Sample Letter


Dear Parents:

Each eighth grader will participate in a project that allows the student to demonstrate a proficiency in each of the subject areas. The students will complete a series of activities based on the content area objectives outlined by the state and the district. The purpose of this project is to allow the studentís parents and future teachers see how proficient he/she is in each subject area at the end of eighth grade.

Enclosed please find a summary of the activities that will be the focus of the Eighth Grade Social Action Project. Each student will choose a philanthropic organization to research. Then, either by themselves or in a small group, the students will volunteer to help this organization in any way they choose.

The culminating activity for this project is Social Action Night, which will be at 7 p.m. on (date) in the cafeteria. Each student will have the opportunity to share with the community what they have learned about their organization and how other people who are interested in social issues might volunteer to work for these causes. There will be breakout sessions where the students will give presentations about their experiences with the various philanthropic organizations.

We understand that this will involve some family involvement to assist with transportation and other support. If you have any concerns, please do not hesitate to call any of us at the Middle School, and we will help you arrange for rides to and from these volunteer centers.


The Eighth Grade Team Teachers

Handout 4Print Handout 4

Permission Slip

School Name
School Address
City, State, Postal Code
Phone Number

Permission Slip for Eighth Grade Philanthropy Project

Name of Eighth Grade Student:

Philanthropic Organization:


Volunteer date:

Name of adult driving:

Time of departure from school:                     

Time of return to school:                     

The undersigned parent or legal guardian of the above-named student, gives permission for my son or daughter to volunteer at the above organization on the day listed. I give my consent for my child to be driven by the adult named above.

Parent Signature

If your child is going to miss school in order to volunteer, you must call the School Office at (phone number) to excuse your child before 7:55 am on the volunteer date.

In order to miss school, the student must have the following initials on this form:
Principal:                      Language Arts Teacher:                      Computer Teacher:                     
Social Studies Teacher:                      Math Teacher:                      Science Teacher:                     
Gym Teacher:                      Elective Teacher:                      Elective Teacher:                     

Philanthropy Framework:


Patricia, Teacher Ė Saginaw, MI11/1/2007 2:43:57 PM

This is a good introductory lesson to a social action project. The lesson got students thinking about social problems and their relationship to philanthropic activities and organizations.

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Unit Contents:

Overview:Social Action Project (The) Summary


Introduction to the Project
Letter Writing
Phone Calls
Research Paper
Creating the Pamphlet
Oral Presentation

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