Participatory Citizenship
  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.5 Analyze the function and role of the civil society sector in economic systems using basic economic principles.
    2. 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. Benchmark HS.3 Identify an example of failure in each sector, and how the other sectors modified their roles in response.
      3. Benchmark HS.5 Describe and give examples of how the kind of economic system in place affects the function of a civil society sector.
      4. Benchmark HS.6 Describe how the civil society sector is often the origin of new ideas, projects and innovation and social renewal.
    3. Standard DP 06. Role of Family in Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Compare and discuss the interaction of families, business, government, and the civil society sector in a democratic society.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark HS.7 Explain why the civil society sector rather than the government or private sectors address particular economic areas.
      2. Benchmark HS.8 Compare actions for the common good in a variety of economic systems.
    2. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark HS.10 Discuss the results of private citizen voluntary action intended for the common good on public policy changes.
      2. Benchmark HS.14 Give examples of how citizens have used organizations in the civil society sector to hold people in power accountable for their actions on behalf of the public.
      3. Benchmark HS.2 Discuss civic virtue and its role in democracy.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.10 Identify reasons why historic figures acted for the common good.
  4. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities, and research.
    2. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Provide a needed service.
    3. Standard VS 04. Raising Private Resources
      1. Benchmark HS.3 Describe a detailed action for service.

Students view primary documents to explore public policy on service. They make meaning of the government role and citizen responsibility in civic action. They make a personal plan of service based on their available time, talent, and treasure.

PrintOne 45-Minute Class Period, Plus time to carry out a service project

The learner will:

  • make meaning of the National and Community Service Act of 1990 and the Kennedy Service Act of 2009.
  • understandthe role of government related to service.
  • define their personal responsibility as participatory citizens to support democracy and the common good.
  • make a service pledge.
  • internet access to read the National and Community Service Act of 1990
  • internet access to view the Kennedy Serve AmericaAct of 2009
  • student copies of handout Personal Pledge of Service
  1. Anticipatory Set:

    The U.S. has a relatively small government, compared to other countries, especially those with dictorships. When the government is small and the people have the right to challenge and strongly influence policy, there is an expectation of involvement in advocacy and voluntary action to address needs not covered by the government or business.

  2. Ask the students to come together as a whole group to share their discussions. Ask, "Why do dictatorships try to limit citizen action for the common good? Which of the things you discussed as partners are rights of democratic citizens, and which are responsibilities?"

  3. Have the students recall the four sectors of the U.S. (government, for-profit/business, nonprofit/civil society, and household). Tell them that none of these sectors on its own can meet all the needs of the people, but they work together to pick up responsibility when another sector fails. Remind the students that most major changes in U.S. history have been led by citizen action trying to affect public policy.

  4. Show the students the primary document of the National and Community Service Act of 1990. This government act encourages people and organizations to serve or take action. Tell the students to read the (a) findings and (b) purposes on pages 6 and 7 of the National and Community Service Act of 1990 (NCSA). Ask them to verbally summarize the purpose of the act.

  5. Scan ahead to pages 34-42. On these pages, the NCSA describes five Corps that adresses specific needs (education, health, clean energy, veterans, and economics). Have the students read about activity ideas and indicators of success for each of these areas. Discuss ideas for service the students can do that arise from this reading.

  6. Show the students the website for the Kennedy Serve America Act. This act amends andexpands the NCSA of 1990. Have students read the Fact Sheet and the Detailed Summary (especially the school-based section).

  7. Discuss why the government wants to support service through these acts. Discuss the government role and citizen responsibility evident in these Acts. What is each citizen's service-related reponsibilityin a democracy? How do you think the government can motivate citizens to take action?

  8. Have students make a pledge of service that utilizes their time, talent, or treasure for the common good. They may use the pledge form handout below.

  9. Exit Ticket question: Is the government stepping in because the household sector has failed to respond to need? Explain your answer.


There is not one correct answer for the Exit Ticket question. Evaluate the students' responses for the quality of their thinking and how they incorporated their understanding of how government philanthropy, nonprofit organizations,and individual philanthropy complement one another.