Current Events

Today’s Current Event: Arts and the Power of Language in Community

Amanda Gorman is the first Youth Poet Laureate of the U.S. She read her poem "The Hill We Climb" at the 2021 Presidential Inauguration ceremony. 

Find the text of her poem online and read and reflect on the themes of activism and positivity. What words and language play do you notice? What does the poem make you wonder? What do the last words mean to you or challenge you to do differently? 

"When day comes, we step out of the shade aflame and unafraid. The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it." - Amand Gorman

Amanda is a poet and an activist who is especially interested in girls’ education and empowerment. She wrote a soon-to-be-published picture book Change Sings. Learn more about Amanda at her website:

Art is a strong way to communicate information and emotions. The inauguration included several singers. Look up the YouTube songs and discuss what they sang and the messages and emotions communicated. 

  1. Why do we have a poet laureate?
  2. What role does music play at an event like an inauguration? 
  3. What other art forms carry meaning for us as a community or nation? 
  4. What forms of art are most meaningful to you?
  5. How can art help you communicate what you believe is important for making a better world?

Our system of government by the people for the people has a powerful and beautiful history, and the events around Inaugeration Day provide an ungoing exploration of democracy and the role of citizens. The teachable moments are many, including how government works and our civic role in democracy. 

Government By the People In this lesson, learners read primary documents that illustrate the motivations of the founding fathers of the United States. These documents show the dedication to principles (government by the people, freedom, civil rights, shared power, etc.) that are upheld by groups and people who (in US history) have worked to gain civil rights for a population that was discriminated against or underserved.

Philanthropy through Social Activism Video and Discussion Guide - Advocacy is a tool for anyone to use their voice for change. Insurrection and violence are not advocacy and not the tactics of a social movement.

What Is Advocacy? Video and Discussion Guide - Advocacy involves changing hearts and minds in support of an issue. We have a right to peaceful protest. The assault on the Capitol represented taking privilege by force and is unlike protests that seek justice.


Civil Conversations

It's OK to have a different opinion than others. The key is to master effective conversation; here are some tips:

  1. Show respect for others.
  2. Be kind (civil) even if you disagree.
  3. Listen to understand before speaking to be understood.
  4. Ask questions and be open to learning before saying, "You're wrong."
  5. Conflict is hard. Be brave and know that you'll get through it. 
  6. Look for the common ground. What can we agree on? Common ground examples: we all want peace, comfort, and friends.

Learning to Give published a resource to guide youth in debate, conflict, and civility. See the Civility and Civil Conversations guide below, with videos created by youth leaders of young people of all ages. 

In addition, Find tips and resources about having Difficult Conversations by establishing a safe environment, promoting respectful dialogue, backing up arguments with facts, and talking about news and current events. Further, help young people evaluate the roles of media, bias, facts, and critical thinking related to current events and controversial topics with these Media Literacy Tips

Civility and Civil Conversations

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Civility and Civil Conversations

Civility is courtesy and politeness for others. It comes from the word "civis," which means citizen. We can teach civility and the skills of civil conversations to grow citizenship and action for the good of all.

We are a global community of diverse stories - past, present, and future. Sharing our unique stories helps make a better world as we engage in the philanthropic act of generous listening. The following two resources were written by practicing teachers across the country to guide empathy, decision making, community building, and social justice. Social Emotional Learning: Guides with suggested activities and videos to help students engage in SEL while Learning to Give. Social Justice: Lesson plans by grade level that culminate in a StoryCorps-style project.

Teacher-created philanthropy education lessons magnify the impact of any academic content with themes of generosity, community, and civic and social responsibility. Perfect base for PBL, service-learning, and student-centered instruction. Lessons align to state standards, including Common Core State Standards, and some international standards.

Current events provide opportunities to discuss our role in civil society and to decide whether and how to get involved. At Learning to Give, we want to help young people learn about and practice taking action for the common good. Look here for current ideas to spark youth knowledge and action to make a difference.

Issue Area-Related Lesson Plans and Project Ideas

The best service-learning projects are related to learning, involve youth voice and choice, address a researched need, and work with local resources. Click the green button in each issue area block below to access a ...

Learning to Give in Your After-School Program 

Use our step-by-step mini-courses for teaching generosity and building community connections in your after-school program. Learning to Give’s Free Teaching and Learning Mini-Courses linked below guide After-School instruction and...