Puzzle of Philanthropy (The)
  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define philanthropy as the giving and sharing of time, talent, or treasure intended for the common good.
    2. Standard DP 05. Role of Foundations
      1. Benchmark E.2 Name a local philanthropist who has given to a foundation.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark E.5 Identify one local citizen who has helped the community through giving and/or service.
    2. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark E.5 Identify the relationship between individual rights and community responsibility.
    3. Standard PCS 04. Philanthropy and Geography
      1. Benchmark E.1 Name examples of civil society organizations in the community.
      2. Benchmark E.2 Identify and describe how civil society organizations help the community.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.1 Describe one reason why a person might give or volunteer.

Students will research some local community organizations to better understand the real application of the terms "philanthropy" and "hero."

PrintFour Forty-Five Minute Lessons

The learner will:

  • define philanthropy from an inexperienced initial perspective.
  • recognize that common people can be philanthropic heroes
  • list three examples of simple acts of philanthropy.
  • list three community resources that work to improve the community’s common good.
  • research the purpose and history of a community organization.
  • redefine philanthropy from their more experienced perspective, evaluating how the definition has changed.
  • reflect on the meaning of a hometown (philanthropic) hero.
  • notebook or handmade journal for each student
  • phonebooks, local directories, Internet connection for research
  • Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen
Home Connection: 

Interactive Parent / Student Homework:Students will interview parents, grandparents, or other significant adult regarding the support of local organizations that are philanthropic and/or local people who serve as heroes of the community through their service to others for which they do not receive payment.

  • Disalvo-Ryan, Dyanne. Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen. HarperTrophy, 1997. ISBN: 0688152856
  • Kaye, Cathryn Berger. The Service Learning Book Shelf. Los Angeles: ABCD Books, 2000. ISBN: 0967807220
  • Lewis, Barbara. Kid’s with Courage: True Stories about Young People Making a Difference. Free Spirit Publishing, 1992. ISBN: 0915793393
  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Distribute to each child $100 of play money and tell them their task is to utilize the money in the best manner to help other people. The students write in their journals exactly how the pretend money should be spent and how it will help others. Ask some students to read their ideas aloud to the class. (They will look back at these ideas later when they know more about philanthropy.)

  2. Write the words "philanthropy" and "hero" on the board. Ask the children to define the words as part of a class discussion. The teacher may provide guidance to define philanthropy as the giving or sharing of time, talents, or treasure for the common good.

    • Guide children to define heroes by brainstorming examples of heroes in literature, the news, and in the community. Make a list of these people and what they did for others. Ask them to think of the common traits of these heroes (honest, selfless, works for the common good, etc.).
    • Students should write the definitions of philanthropy and heroes in their own words and with examples in their journals.
  3. Day 2:

  4. Read Uncle Willie and the Soup Kitchen by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan. Before reading ask students to listen for acts of philanthropy and examples of heroes. After reading, have the students identify the philanthropy and heroes. Guide students to recognize that common people (like them) can be philanthropic heroes. There are other books listed in the Bibliographical References with more examples of community heroes.

    • Ask students if it is the responsibility of people to help those in need. Discuss whether it is everybody’s responsibility to make the world a better place no matter how much money they have. Why is philanthropy a responsibility and not something extra?
    • Show the students how to use available resources to determine whether there is a soup kitchen in your area. If so, find out who runs it: a church, a community organization, a government-funded organization, or other. Talk about the motives of the group that runs it. Discuss what kinds of philanthropy are involved (time, talent, and/or treasure).
    • Guide the students to use available resources to locate community organizations that help people. Explain the differences between government organizations and private organizations that provide support to others.
    • Students list in their journals at least three community resources that provide for the betterment of the community (Examples: Chamber of Commerce, foundations, private individuals, faith-based programs, business and industry, educational institutions, etc.). Each student should choose one of these to research further.
  5. Day 3:

  6. Students research the organization they chose at the end of Day 2. Before they start, generate common questions for them to explore regarding the history, financial backing, and the impact of the service. Help students make contact through Websites, phone calls or e-mail to obtain information from each organization. Students record their research in their journals.

  7. Day 4

  8. Engage students in a class discussion on the results of their research on local nonprofit organizations/services to further understand how community organizations support community citizens and their efforts.

    • After the discussion, students write a journal entry to evaluate their initial definitions of "philanthropy" and "hero" stating if their perceptions have changed or remained the same. They should support with evidence their initial idea of how to spend the $100 or revise their ideas based on the new information.

Assess student writing in the journals. They should have completed all the assignments thoroughly and demonstrated thoughtfulness in the process. See rubric below. Rubric Points Possible Task Points Earned 3 Journal Entry One: Define philanthropy and hero and explain how to spend $100 for the common good. 3 Journal Entry Two: List three community organizations that help other 3 Journal Entry Three: Research of the local organization includes: origin financial backing and impact. 3 Journal Entry Four: Students completed an evaluative statement of definitions and to justify continued belief in initial plans of spending the $100 of play money, or stating how they would change their initial plans for use of the money.