The Little Letter that Could
  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.5 Identify the business, government, family, and civil society sectors.
    2. Standard DP 03. Names and Types of Organizations within the Civil Society Sector
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Discuss examples of civil society organizations from a list of categories of organizations.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Participate in acts of democratic citizenship in the classroom or school, such as voting, group problem solving, classroom governance or elections.
  3. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Identify a need in the school, 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.
    3. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Provide a needed service.
      2. Benchmark MS.2 Describe the goals of the project and their impact.
      3. Benchmark MS.3 Describe the task and the student role.
    4. Standard VS 04. Raising Private Resources
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Develop a service plan.
    5. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Evaluate progress on the service-learning project before, during, and after the project.
      2. Benchmark MS.3 Identify outcomes from the service.

Using the three economic sectors (for-profit, government, nonprofit) the learners will identify and categorize local organizations into one of these three economic sectors, They will write letters to those in the nonprofit sector in an effort to determine if and how their services might be utilized. The learners will then provide a service to one a selected nonprofit organization. 

PrintTwo 50 minute Class Periods for Lesson (Plus the time allotted for the learner involvement in the identified service learning project and reflection)

The learner will:

  • use a Venn Diagram tocategorize organizations into the three economic sectors.
  • compose letters to nonprofit organizations.
  • select a service learning project in a nonprofit organization.
  • volunteer and provide a service to the selected nonprofit organization.
  • The learner's community maps (Lesson 2) listing community organizations
  • Pictures/videos taken duringthe bus/walking tour
  • Paper and pencils for letter writing
  • Phone book(s)/Internet access for addresses
  • Whole group and learner copies of Venn Diagram of Economic Sectors (Attachment One)
  • Letter Writing Rubric (Attachment Two).

For additional related Units and Lesson see also:


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Compile a showing (video,digital slide, collage of photos, etc...) and/orpass around pictures from the field trip tour. Review with thestudents the role of a philanthropist- someone who gives of their time, talent, and treasure to meet a need.

  2. Return the community maps to the learnersandpoint to the listing ofneeds and organizations, displayed on board, compiled from yesterday's field trip.

  3. Discuss the video/digital slide show, collage of photosand/or pictures in detail, reviewing thecommunity maps featuring the listing of the organizations and the identified needs of the community.

  4. Tellthe learners that they will needto use all of this informationin filling out theirVenn Diagram.

  5. Give eachlearner a copy of the Venn Diagram of Economic Sectors (Attachment One)which identifies the three economic sectors.

  6. Pair learners to work together, utilizing the list of organizationsfrom the board,have them place the organizations into theirappropriate circle. (NOTE: A brief review of the terms"For Profit, Government, and Nonprofit" may be necessary. See Lesson One- for a brief review of what it is that these listed organizations do.)

  7. Once completed, use a group copy of the Venn Diagram, to show and discuss with students the correct placement of each ofthe identifiedlocal organizations. Have the learners fix any of their errors and include missing organizations.

  8. Take time to review letter writing skills (friendly letter format).

  9. Focusing on the "Nonprofit" sector,allow students to choose their top 3 choices of organizations they would like to help. Have them reflect upon why these organizations are important to them and their community.

  10. Re-partnerlearners based upon their top choices and assign each partner groupingto write a letter to one of the non-profit organization asking ifand how they might be able toperform a service learning project to help that organization.

  11. Encourage the learners to revise, proofread, and edit their letter, to type a final draft, andlocating the mailing address of the organization, tomailthe letter.

  12. Upon receipt of a positive responsefrom the nonprofit organization(s), students will determine the appropriate ways in which they might effectively contribute in aphilanthropic manner (time, talent, and treasure) and the goals they hope to accomplish.

  13. Have the learners vote to determine to which nonprofit organization they will devote their service learning efforts.

  14. Organize, plan, and conduct the service learning project according to the policies of the school district.

  15. Upon completion of the service learning project, conduct a reflection discussion around the experience. (NOTE: See also Extension, below)


Assessment is based on learner involvement in class activities,to includeclass discussions and letter writing utilizing the Letter Writing Rubric (Attachment Two). If a service learning project is enacted, assessment can also be based upon learner involvement in the service learning project as well as the reflection discussion following the service learning activity.