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

Grow Involved 9-12
Unit of 5 lessons

Unit Overview:

Focus Question: How does an individual use personal interests and strengths to impact the common good? 

Unit Purpose:

Students respond to literature about Martin Luther King, Jr. and compare his views on service to the philosophies of characters in books and a movie (some fiction, some nonfiction). Students learn that service and social action by one person can change the world. They learn about serial reciprocity and explore the issues of violence, prejudice, and racism.

Unit Duration:

One 45-minute class period for the introduction (Lesson One) and then one other lesson (by grade level) of between one and two 45-minute class periods, plus time for reading, viewing, or completing a service project

Unit Objectives:

The learner will:

  • define service and social activism.
  • explore and discuss the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his commitment to service.
  • define serial reciprocity (paying it forward).
  • view a movie or movie clips and discuss characters and concepts related to the impact of paying it forward.
  • brainstorm and investigate social issues that they can address in their communities and world.
  • take action through service and social activism.
  • design and implement a campaign to raise awareness of a chosen issue of importance.
  • read To Kill a Mockingbird, a story about racism and violence.
  • organize and sponsor a rally for nonviolence.
  • define advocacy as active verbal support for a cause or position.
  • read Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
  • come to a consensus about an issue of interest to address through a letter-writing campaign.
  • write a letter to a government representative.
  • reflect on the impact of the service on self.
  • read about Malcolm X’s life and work,
  • organize and sponsor a forum on racism.

Service Experience:

Although lessons in this unit contain service project examples, decisions about service plans and implementation should be made by students, as age appropriate.


This unit contains four opportunities for student service:
Pay It Forward (Grade 9) - advocate for service to others
Promote Nonviolence  (Grade 10) - organizing a rally for nonviolence
Do the Write Thing (Grade 11) - take a stand on a issue through a letter-writing campaign
A Forum on Racism  (Grade 12) - hold an information forum on racism

Notes for Teaching:

Supplies might be obtained for the service projects by asking local merchants for donated items, or by seeking a small grant from local service clubs or parent organizations. See also www.generationOn.org and or www.kidscare.org for grant opportunities.

Bibliographical References:

Bader, Bonnie. Who Was Martin Luther King Jr? Grosset and Dunlap, 2007. ISBN-13: 978-0448447230

Frank, Anne. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl. Bantam, 1993. ISBN-13: 978-0553296983

King, Jr., Martin Luther. I Have a Dream. Scholastic, 2007. ISBN-13: 978-0590205177

Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2006. ISBN-13: 978-0061120084

Malcolm X, Alex Haley. The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Ballantine, 1987. ISBN-13: 978-0345350688

Pastan, Amy. Martin Luther King, Jr. DK Children, 2004. ISBN-13: 978-0756603427

Pay it Forward (123 minutes) with Kevin Spacey, Haley Joel Osment, and Helen Hunt. DVD (PG-13) Warner Home Video, 2001. AISN: B00005B4BI

YouTube video "MLK: March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (1963)" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7s30wFCqlw 

State Curriculum and Philanthropy Theme Frameworks:

See individual lessons for benchmark detail.

Submit a Comment

All rights reserved. Permission is granted to freely use this information for nonprofit (noncommercial), educational purposes only. Copyright must be acknowledged on all copies.