Stories of Youth Generosity and Action

Here are a few of the inspiring stories of teachers and youth leaders who used Learning to Give lessons and activities to teach knowledge and action of generosity in community. You can find many more stories in our Trending section linked here and in the menu at the top of the website.

Erin Guesno - After School

"I want to make the world a better place and I want to raise up a generation of others who want to do the same," said Ms. Erin Guesno, a program coordinator for SEEDs at Marion Elementary School in Michigan. Ms. Guesno wanted to keep her students thinking about their community and the health of the environment even though they couldn't meet in person, so the after-school program rocked two service projects: Water Testing and Doodle Stones.

The K-6 students received a water testing kit and a how-to video from Ms. Guesno. They went to a pond near their homes and tested the water quality, and they reflected in journals about the data and observations. From their remote locations they discussed what the tests meant and what they could do to make water quality improve.            Read more

The Doodle Stones project begins with a one-period lesson, where youth examine the effects of using words as social action today and in history. Participants decorate a stone with a positive quote or encouraging word and place it for others to find. "Our goal is to place uplifting quotes to inspire the population in Marion to live powerful lives."                 Read more


Detroit Hives - Upper Elementary

The Bee the Change project originated with the lesson Beneficial Bees, led by Mr. Jackson. Students set out on an urban exploration within their own backyard and local parks to discover native plant species and the native bees that visited those plants. The students were then able to plant wildflower seeds at their home to help attract local pollinators.

This project was self-guided in many ways and encouraged students to take responsibility, make a plan, and then participate at their own pace. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, "many students didn't have an opportunity to play outdoors or travel and visit their local YMCA," said Mr. Jackson. "This project allowed them the liberty to safely go outdoors, participate in a learning project, and then connect with one another about what they observed and did to serve." 
"We love to be able to go outside and love at the flowers and bees," said student, Skylar G.       Read more

Joyce Matthews - High School mentors 

During the coronavirus pandemic, Joyce Matthews, helped over 150 Braddock Elementary and Thomas Jefferson High School club students learn and serve. The high school students work with the elementary students each year in mentorship roles in both afterschool time and summer activities. During the COVID-19 pandemic, this group of highschoolers contacted Ms. Matthews to ask if and how they could still spend time with the local elementary students.

The high school mentors created short videos about science investigations or they read aloud science resource books or created vocabulary reviews. The team went a step further and STEAMBASSADORS created STEAM Kits to send home for students to maintain skills and spark curiosity. "Our school went above and beyond to provide for our students during this time," said Ms. Matthews. "We offered Grocery Pick Up options weekly and created a space in our large white tent to engage with students while practicing safe social distancing."    

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Darlene Short - Middle School

During the pandemic, the 6th grade Gold Team Teachers from Castle North Middle School in Indiana collaborated to help their students complete several service-learning projects. The team set up clear steps and Zoom lessons to virtually guide students through the service-learning process. All of the students were motivated to make a difference. Each student identified a need related to the stay-at-home order, conducted research, planned a project, took action in their community, and created a reflective report. 

Evie wanted to get kids outside and connecting in a safe way so she created a treasure hunt. Her idea was sparked by the Simple Safe Service project Neighborhood Ladybug Hunt. Children in the neighborhood were encouraged to run from mailbox to mailbox searching for clues that led to a table of treasures. According to Evie, this project got her thinking about “more ways to continue interacting with others during this quarantine.”

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Indiana Stories of Service-Learning

Learning to Give teachers in Indiana have been supported for many years from a grant-funded program, INSPIRE3, that provides them with service-learning training, coaching, and funds for youth-led mini-grant projects. Read their inspiring stories of service and classroom learning. The stories are organized by issue area: Animals, Civic Participation, Disaster, Literacy, Disabilities, Environment, Global Citizenship, Health, Hunger, Veterans, Peace, Senior Citizens, Wellness, and Social Justice. 

For example, in one story, fifth graders learned about the Impact of Giving and the elements of forming a classroom business. They designed a business plan that met the need of providing food for people in their community who experience food insecurity. They sold products, donated money, and even made a profit. They voted as a class to decide where to donate their profits. One student wrote, "I like that we sold our pretzels and Jolly Rancher pops for a good cause. I feel good when I help others and know I am doing something good for other people."

Read Indiana Stories

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