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

How the Community Meets Needs (7th Grade)
Lesson 1
Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework

Focus Question(s):

How might individuals and society address the issues of poverty, homelessness and hunger, and their underlying causes?

NOTE: Prior to this lesson, use the Blue Sky Activity in which students envision a better world.  If you already have a Blue Sky display, revisit it before beginning this lesson.


Students gain an awareness of local organizations that provide services to meet needs in the community. Students learn about the four sectors of the economy that provide help in different forms.

Focus Question: How might individuals and society address the issues of poverty, homelessness and hunger, and their underlying causes?


One Sixty-Minute Class Period


The learner will:

  • name the four sectors of the economy.
  • give examples of each of the four sectors of the economy.
  • identify the purpose of each of the four sectors of the economy.
  • give examples of  how those in need are provided for among the four sectors.
  • identify local resources for those in need.


  • Teacher copy of the Sector Background Information (Attachment One)
  • Student copies of The Four Sectors of the Economy (Attachment Two)
  • Area telephone books
  • Student copies of the community map from the phone book or map web-site
Handout 1
Sector Background Information
Handout 2
The Four Sectors of the Economy

Teacher Preparation:

It is important to be sensitive to the possibility that someone in your class may have some personal experience with homelessness, hunger and poverty.

Instructional Procedure(s):

Anticipatory Set:

Teacher Note: Before students arrive, push all the desks to the back of the room so that you have a large open space.  Write on the board or overhead “Take out a pencil and paper and write about being homeless.”

As students walk into the room, give them a card that states:

Your desk is your home in this classroom and it’s no longer available to you.  In addition, you must give up your worldly possessions (backpacks, paper, pencil, etc.) by putting them on the back desk.  Please look to the overhead (or board) for further instruction.

It will be come obvious to your students that they cannot do this and, by now, your room is utterly chaotic!  Some will sit on the floor; others will complain; some will refuse to do anything.  This is expected.  Play the role.  Be stern about expecting them to do the assignment.  Allow a few minutes to pass in order to get reactions from students.

  • Process the activity by asking:
    • How did you feel about giving up your possessions?
    • How did you feel when you could not complete the assignment and had nothing with which to work?
    • How would you feel if you lost everything in a fire or tsunami or other natural disaster? (Discuss exactly what would be lost...pictures, all property, clothes, mementos, and other valuables).
    • How would you feel if family members lost their jobs and you had no place to live?
    • Who would be there to help you?
  • Display The Four Sectors of the Economy (Attachment Two), review the four sectors of the economy: government, for-profit business, non-profits, and family or household and their purposes.  This information can be found in the lesson plan “The Drive (6th).” 
  • Tell the students that you will be philanthropic and provide paper and pencil for them to use.  Tell students to sit on the floor for the review of the four sectors of the economy.
  • Pose these questions in relation to the fifth question from the activity above:
    • What could the family or household do to provide you with assistance?
    • What could government do you help you?
    • What role could the for-profit or business sector play in providing help?
    • How can the non-profit sector be of assistance?  What organizations do you know that provide assistance for those in need?
  • Explain to students how to find organizations in the phone book or suggest search terms on the Internet. Look under Social Service Organizations in the phone book.  Needs to be met could include food, shelter, health, clothing.  Consider soup kitchens, homeless shelters, food pantries, rescue missions, health clinics, etc.
  • Put students into four teams; food, shelter, health, clothing.  Distribute two phone books and a community map to each group.  Using the phone book as a resource, have students identify agencies that aid needy individuals and families in these four areas.  (Some organizations will help with more than one area and perhaps all four areas.)

Teacher Note: It may be difficult for the students to determine the services of some of the organizations from their titles. If possible have a computer(s) with Internet connection available for a student(s) from each group to research those organizations. If computer searches are not possible, the teacher should help the students determine what services organizations might supply.

  • Plot the location of the agencies on the maps provided.  Allow 15-20 minutes.
  • Display a master copy of the community map and have selected students from each group plot the agencies on this map, color coding their organizations to the needs they meet, such as red = food, blue = health, etc.  If an organization is already plotted on the map, the appropriate colored check mark could be added by subsequent teams.  For instance, The Red Cross might have all four colors of check marks because it helps with food, shelter, health and clothes.
  • Ask students to name one organization they found that they would like to support or about which they would like to learn more.
  • Hold a reflection discussion asking students if they think their community would be able to meet their needs if they were suddenly without a home and possessions.  Why or why not?

Learning Link(s): (click to view)

Cross-Curriculum Extensions:

Ask the students to analyze the community map on which they plotted the social service agencies.  Is there a reason why they exist where they do?  Are there some areas of the community that does not seem to have many? Why do they think this is true?

Ask students to select a few of the organizations they discovered to research and report to the class.

Reflection: (click to view)

Lesson Developed By:

Thomas Webb
Fulton Schools
Fulton Middle School
Middleton, MI 48856


Handout 1Print Handout 1

Sector Background Information



For-Profit Sector


Nonprofit Sector 

Exists to make a profit.

Exists to provide public goods and services that meet the needs or expectations of the majority such as the postal service and national defense.

Exists to meet needs that for profit and government cannot or do not, and to represent the minority.  Often the catalyst for social change.


  Provide goods or services related to demand and profit.

  They can regulate what the for-profit world does, for example, telephone service.   


  They may provide goods and services related to need.

  Payment is dependent on the choice to purchase the good or service.


  They have coercive power.  They can tax you or make you purchase a license.

  They are concerned about client satisfaction. 


  Profit is distributed to the owners or share-holders of the business for their own private use.

  They may promise to provide services in order to win elections.

  Profit does not benefit any individuals connected with the organization. It is invested in furthering the mission of the organization.

Handout 2Print Handout 2

The Four Sectors of the Economy




 The Economy  




For-Profit Business 

Non-Profit Business  

Family or Household



























Philanthropy Framework:


Sandra, LEAGUE Coach Newark, NJ5/23/2011 4:12:05 PM

This was a very good lesson. Students were able to identify themselves in this lesson, which was an eye-opener for them.

Sandra, LEAGUE Coach Newark, NJ5/23/2011 4:14:19 PM

This was a very good lesson. Students were able to identify themselves in this lesson, which was an eye opener for them.

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Unit Contents:

Overview:How the Community Meets Needs (7th Grade) Summary


How the Community Meets Needs (7th Grade)

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