Introduction to the Project
  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define philanthropy as individuals and organizations providing their time, talent, and/or treasures intended for the common good throughout history and around the world. Give examples.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Discuss a public policy issue affecting the common good and demonstrate respect and courtesy for differing opinions.
  3. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Research the need in the school, neighborhood, local community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities and research.

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

PrintTwo 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 (Handout One)
  • List of Organizations (Handout Two)
  • Sample Letter (Handout Three)
  • Permissions Slip (Handout Four)
  • Fugate, Sandy. For the Benefit of All: A History of Philanthropy in Michigan. Michigan: W.K. Kellogg Foundation, 1997.
  • Lewis, Barbara. The Kid’s 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 Kid’s 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.
  1. 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?

  2. 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, Handout One.)

  3. 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, Handout Two). Allow students to choose two or three organizations either from the class-generated list or Handout Two.

  4. 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, Handout Three) and collect permission slips with parent signatures (see Permissions Slip, Handout Four).


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