Issues we care about

Issues We Care About: Resources and Project Ideas

These toolkits guide youth, educators, group leaders, families, and community groups as they investigate an area of interest and prepare to take action. Look here for definitions and background on the issue, community connections who can serve as experts and allies, key questions and conversation starters, lessons and activities, project ideas to get youth voice started, and planning guides.

The best service-learning projects

  • guide us to gain and use knowledge,
  • are led by youth voice and passion,
  • address a researched need,
  • and develop connections with local resources over time.

Each toolkit below expands learning and gives ideas for ways to take action and connect to community. 

Listening and Social Justice

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Listening and Social Justice

We have a rich tradition of social action and citizenship in our country. In a time of crisis, we look to generosity and diverse connections to guide our next steps and conversation. These three resource guides, for elementary, middle, and high school, include lessons and activities to build inclusion and understanding of social justice. The guided facilitation for remote or in-person meetings takes learners through a journey of empathy, making decisions, taking voluntary action, and finally telling and sharing stories of diverse people to make a better world. 

Humans and the Environment

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Humans and the Environment

Being outside, caring for plants and animals, and recycling are often a young person’s first experience with environmental stewardship. Young people looking to a sustainable future may feel alarm about aging water pipes, environmental contamination, plastics in the ocean, overuse of natural resources, and air pollution. This toolkit shares resources to learn, connect, and take action now as environmental stewards and climate activities to assure a sustainable future in harmony with the gifts of nature.  

The Able-Ness Toolkit

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The Able-Ness Toolkit

Support and encouragement for people with differing abilities and skill levels can impact success in general education, peer to peer relationships, and for a productive and engaging life after school years. This toolkit provides information, activities, and service-learning project ideas to make all youth aware of ways to show respect and appreciation for people of different levels and abilities.

Disability Awareness

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Disability Awareness

Teach lessons that build empathy for people with physical and mental differences. Lesson plans, project ideas, and community partners help youth understand abilities and strengths of people who are differently abled. 

Photo Credit: Coach Jeff playing basketball with a student by U.S. Embassy, Jakarta is licensed under CC by 4.0 

Establishing a Culture of Kindness

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Establishing a Culture of Kindness

Teach lessons that explore how acts of kindness vs bullying behavior impact the whole community. Link to four anti-bullying units and character education units.

This toolkit provides lesson plans, project ideas, and background information related to promoting kindness and anti-bullying. 

Civic Participation and Voting

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Civic Participation and Voting

Teach skills of civic participation from voting to advocating for a cause. Each toolkit includes lesson plans, project ideas, and background information related to civic participation and voting. Civic Participation Toolkit

Photo Credit:  November 4: D'arby voted! By Gwen is licensed under CC by 2.0

Honoring Veterans and Community Helpers

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Honoring Veterans and Community Helpers

This toolkit of lesson plans, project ideas, and background information raises awareness of the role of veterans, military, and community helpers. Youth gain knowledge of their service as a form of philanthropy - giving their time for the common good. Read literature, study the actions of past military, and take action to advocate for veterans and community helpers and give support to current soldiers. 

Civil Rights, Justice, and Advocacy

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Civil Rights, Justice, and Advocacy

This toolkit links to lesson plans, project ideas, and background information related to civil rights, justice and advocacy. Raise students' awareness of the concepts of caring, respect, and fairness, and encourage students to demonstrate these character qualities to honor the legacy of Dr. King. Teach lessons and resources to guide student action related to Civil Disobedience in history.  

The Arts as a Cultural Necessity

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The Arts as a Cultural Necessity

Art is an essential part of adding quality to our lives. Through visual, performance, and other art forms, people gain joy and explore the themes of life. Art may be an expression and communication tool to advocate for issues. Or youth may advocate to add art to their community. This toolkit includes lesson plans, project ideas, and background information related to the arts. 

Advocacy for Animals

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Advocacy for Animals

View this toolkit of lesson plans, project ideas, and background information related to animal projects. Young people often start their earliest philanthropy in service to animals. Written in collaboration with ASPCA, these lessons teach empathy and action related to the needs of animals, giving a voice to the voiceless.

How Do We Respond to and Prepare for a Crisis?

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How Do We Respond to and Prepare for a Crisis?

When disaster strikes, whether caused by nature or humans, the humanitarian spirit of individuals and communities swells. The lesson plans, project ideas, and links to nonprofit resources here provide opportunities to discuss our response to disaster and explore actions that young people can take before and after disaster strikes. 

Intergenerational Relationships

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Intergenerational Relationships

Communities are stronger when people of diverse backgrounds and ages become friends and work together for a common purpose. These lessons, project ideas, and community resources prompt discussions and service that build respect for people of different generations -- older and younger. The Our State of Generosity resources are based on servant leadership and stories of lifelong philanthropists.

Global Issues of Peace and Justice

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Global Issues of Peace and Justice

We are all connected in a global world where the actions of people across the world impact our lives. From poverty to education to environment and refugees, the issues of the world are the issues of our communities. Photo Credit:  Grandma, Baisakhi by Nevil Zaveri is licensed under CC by 2.0

Literacy and Literature

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Literacy and Literature

Raise awareness of the importance of literacy with Learning to Give lessons and activities. Reading and reflection offer an opportunity to explore universal themes of kindness and the common good:

  1. motivations of the characters
  2. how characters' actions impact the greater community
  3. themes and instances of the struggle between self-interest and common good

Hunger, Homelessness and Poverty

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Hunger, Homelessness and Poverty
Move beyond the holiday canned food drive and engage youth in knowledge about hunger and poverty and discussion about why it exists. Featured lessons explore why people are hungry and what anyone can do to address it.  Another toolkit focuses on food security and food justice.

Health and Safety

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Health and Safety

These lesson plans, project ideas, and community resources help youth understand and advocate for healthy and safe choices for self and community, as well as learn about advocacy for disease research and mental illness stigma. 

Refugees in Our Community

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Refugees in Our Community

A refugee is a person who has been forced to flee from his or her home country and is unable or afraid to return because of war, violence, or persecution. This toolkit gives ideas for lesson plans, community partners, and project ideas that include advocacy, volunteering, or welcoming students who are refugees in their own school or community.  

The Constitution and Civil Society

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The Constitution and Civil Society

What does the Constitution say about our role as citizens engaged in civil society? This toolkit includes background, primary documents, lessons, and project ideas related to the words of the Constitution. 

We are a global community of diverse stories - past, present, and future. Valuing our communities and sharing our unique stories contribute to a more inclusive world. 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 (SEL) guides include suggested activities and videos to help young people reflect on their personal role in community. Social Justice activities and lesson plans by grade level 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.