Benjamin Franklin: Philanthropist

Grade Level: 
6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12
Franklin, Benjamin
Philanthropic Act
social entrepreneur
Video Clip and Discussion Guide: Benjamin Franklin is known for many innovations and contributions to the common good. One of his contributions is as a pioneer in the field of philanthropy. He established the model of "public-private partnerships" in which he leveraged private dollars to get the government to contribute to libraries, hospitals, universities, and other needed resources for the common good. We still use this "mixed economy" model. This activity includes an introduction, a one-minute video clip, and follow-up discussion questions.

Anticipatory Set

Ask the students what they know about Benjamin Franklin. Push them to recall as many facts as they can beyond the kite and key. Tell them that he was very influential in early U.S. history when the democratic civil society was forming. This video shares one of his creative innovations to society.



  1. How did Franklin get the government to support resources such as libraries and hospitals? 
  2. What is a public-private partnership? What do public and private mean in this context? 
  3. How does society benefit when government and nonprofits collaborate?
  4. What is an example from current news of the government and civil society supporting a need or resource?

Follow-Up Activity

Have students conduct research on the local library. Students may take on questions that interest them. How was it originally funded? How old is it? What is the closest Carnegie Library to your house? How much does it cost to run a library and where do the funds come from?