Deciding to Serve (9-12)
  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Explain why needs are met in different ways by government, business, civil society and family.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark HS.3 Explain how <i>opportunity cost</i> relates to philanthropic giving by individuals and corporations.
    2. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark HS.4 Analyze and synthesize information to differentiate fact from opinion based on the investigation of issues related to public policy. Discuss these issues evaluating the effects of individual actions on other people, the rule of law and ethical behavior.
  3. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities, and research.

Students will determine how they can be most effective in sharing their newly acquired financial expertise, and will be mentored and guided as they propose, plan, problem solve, and implement a service project that address promoting financial literacy and responsible use of credit amongst peers and/or in the local community.  They will recall what they have learned with the goal of determining how, and with whom to share the information.  Students will decide which proposed project(s) to implement using an economic decision-making model.

Teacher Note: It is highly recommended that teachers plan to digitally photograph and/or video the planning and implementing of the service project for possible use in creating the final demonstration in Lesson Four: Telling Our Story Students, family members, community volunteers, and/or partnering organizations can be asked to help with the visual documentation of this project.

PrintTwo 45 minute class periods

The learner will:

  • use an economic decision-making model.
  • develop specific criteria for selecting a service project that meets community needs.
  • investigate, plan, implement, and problem solve a meaningful service project with peers and/or local community.
  • define how choices can affect their own well-being and that of the community.
  • A large chart for recording data from the Homework Survey Questions (Lesson Two, Handout Four)
  • Handout One: Economic Decision-Making Model, teacher copy for display
  • Lists of local non-profit and/or philanthropic organizations working in the area of financial literacy and credit counseling as possible partners for the service project
Home Connection: 

Optional: Copy the completed decision-making grid from the classroom discussion. Send a copy home with students along with a blank decision-making grid for the family to use. Request that family members ask their child about the process used in class and/or show their child how they use or can use the process to help with a current economic decision being made in their family.

  1. Day One: Teacher Note: The teacher, in the role of facilitator, will need to counsel students about what is and is not realistic, according to resources and time available, for the service project.

    Anticipatory Set: Compile and discuss data from the Lesson Two, Handout Four: Homework Survey Questions assignment. Looking at the cumulative data, ask students to determine if, based on their research, there is a need for some kind of financial literacy and credit information to be shared with the students and/or adults in their community.

  2. Explain that in this lesson all of the students will become philanthropists, or will be acting in a philanthropic manner, by identifying and implementing a financial literacy/credit awareness service project that meets a real need in the school or community.

  3. Write "Wants" and "Needs" on the board and briefly review from previous lessons. Then introduce the terms: "Community Needs" and "Community Wants." Ask for volunteers to define what common good means. Point out that the root word for both “common” and “community” is the Latin root word “communis”, meaning shared by all or many. Addressing “common or community needs and wants” means addressing shared needs and wants. Voluntarily giving one’s time, talents, or treasures to work toward the common good is the definition of philanthropy. Check to make sure the students understand these terms. If there is little prior knowledge of these terms, ask for and provide local and personal examples of both.

  4. Explain that a service project is a voluntary philanthropic action that could involve time, talent, or treasure. It provides an opportunity to advance the common good of everyone by using the time and talents of the class to meet a community need or want. Stress the benefits to the class of making a positive difference they can all feel good about if the students as a class are careful in:

  5. * first identifying real community needs, including needs that their peers and/or adults may have. This must be a student led decision.

    * establishing sound criteria (priorities, what’s important to us) for deciding which service project would be the best to implement. 

    * and finally, planning , problem solving, and implementing a successful service project from beginning to end.

  6. Considering the results of the survey, prioritize a list of community needs that a service-project could address.

  7. Conduct more brainstorming and questioning, as needed, to identify possible service projects. Explain that tomorrow the class will narrow the list to 3-5 feasible projects, then to one project, by working to reach consensus on one project. Encourage students to think about what criteria, (priorities, what they think is important) would they use to evaluate whether a particular service-project should be chosen or not. Give an examples of possible criteria such as “it won’t cost more than so many dollars” , “there would be jobs to do for everyone in class”, “the target population is students, adults or both,” “involve partner organizations in the community,” etc., to start students thinking more about this before tomorrow’s lesson. Ask students to think about it overnight and be ready to give their input during the next class.

  8. Teacher Note: As appropriate to your class and resources, you may suggest possible projects such as: create Public Service Announcements to run as part of school communications and/or on public access TV, hold a Personal Finance Fair for peers families, and/or community members, create a presentation to be given to other classes in the middle school or to elementary classes, present a play or skits, develop an informational pamphlet, etc. The choice, planning and implementation of the service project should be student led.

    Day Two: Using the Economic Decision-Making Model

    Anticipatory Set: Ask the students to give examples of some decisions (as an individual or as part of a group) they have had to make in the last week. Ask them to share why decision making might be hard to do for some people. Tell the students that you are going to show them how to make a logical, fair, and intelligent decision using an economic decision-making model and that you will be using the model to come to a class decision on a service project to meet a need for personal finance and credit information.

  9. Revisit the service project ideas generated during the previous class. Clarify 2-5 of the ideas that are seem to have the most class support and that are feasible for the class to do. Determine if there are any community organizations that might be helpful to partner with for each of the proposed projects.

  10. Use a display area to explain the five steps of good decision making:

  11. * Determine the decision to be made (What is the problem to be solved?)

    * Brainstorm several action ideas or alternatives

    * Determine the criteria important in making the decision

    * Evaluate the good and the bad points of each alternative in light of the criteria

    * Decide by choosing the alternative with the most good points!

  12. Display a decision-making (see Handout One: Economic Decision-Making Model). Explain that once students know how to use the model, they can use it throughout their lives to make good economic decisions when it comes to deciding how to use money, time, or talents. Today, the class will be using the Economic Decision-Making Model to make a decision about the financial literacy/credit awareness service project to proceed with as a class.

  13. Write the top 2-5 service project alternatives in the left column of the Economic Decision Making Model grid.

  14. Remind students that criteria are those things we think are important, like a set of standards, or filters to use, when deciding what to do. For instance, wanting food to taste good, wanting food to be healthy for us, wanting food to be easy to fix, are all criteria we could use in deciding what to eat! (This is sometimes difficult for middle school students to understand, since so many decisions seem to come impulsively or without thinking of the criteria that went into a decision. It is usually the most difficult part to determine for students in using the economic decision making process.) Fill in the top row of the decision making model with criteria important to the students. Try to arrive at least four meaningful and authentic criteria so students can see the benefits of the economic decision making model. (It may be helpful to use a question format on the grid itself) Some possible criteria include:

  15. Will this meet a community need and/or promote the common good? How difficult will this be to implement? How many people will be affected by our service project (estimate)? Does the project address our desired audience – student, adults, both?

    Make sure the students lead the discussion and select the criteria important to them.

  16. Evaluate each alternative with the class, one criteria at a time. Record hand votes and tallies as needed after reviewing each criterion for each alternative service project. Explain that the opportunity cost for choosing the first choice is not being able to donate time, talent, or treasure to the second best choice on the list of alternatives.

  17. Evaluate the responses for each criterion chosen corresponding to each alternative. Compare and discuss the results. If a particular criterion is more important than the others, give it more “weight” when calculating the impact, such as doubling the number in a given cell if the class agrees that the criterion should be double-weighted. Achieve a consensus class decision based on the highest number of positive responses received by a particular service project alternative. The alternative with the highest number of total or “yes” or positive comments should be the first choice.

  18. Once the project has been agreed on, guide the students in planning the project. Ask the class to list the tasks that need to completed to implement the project. Brainstorm resources they might use to help them make the project a success. Consider human resources – people and organizations they could call on to help or to partner with, and capital resources - meeting space, equipment. Divide the tasks among groups of students and set a time line leading up to the project date for the tasks to be finished.

  19. If appropriate to the project, have students consider using a post service survey, using some or all of the questions from the previous survey with the projects audience to measure impact.


Students should be assessed through observation of participation in the economic decision-making process and in the planning and implementation of the service project.