Youth Advising in Action

6, 7, 8

Students will survey members of the community (school or local area) to determine a need, write proposals to satisfy the need, consider doing an optional one-day fundraiser to help fill that need, serve on a board of directors or a youth advisory committee to determine how such funds will be spent, and evaluate the project.

Lesson Rating 
PrintTwo class periods with optional fundraiser extender

The learners will:

  • explain why students have a responsibility to act in the voluntary sector to improve the common good.
  • design and use a survey instrument to collect data related to a need in the community.
  • explain how a youth advisory committee uses a form of “advise and consent” when making recommendations to a board of directors.
  • student copies of handout one: Letter to Parents
  • student copies of handout two:Let’s Look Around Survey
  • student copies of handout three:Proposal Form
  • student copies of handout four:Proposal Evaluation Form
  • access to internet for four teams
Home Connection 

Interactive Parent / Student Homework: Students will ask a parent or relative, as well as other students and community members, to complete a survey question in order to determine community needs. 


  1. Anticipatory Set: Put the following quotation on the chalkboard: “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any.”

  2. Explain that the quotation is from Alice Walker, an African-American, Pulitzer Prize-winning author.  Ask the learners if they agree or disagree with her opinion. How can students constructively express their power? Do the learners feel that this power can include a responsibility to act in the voluntary sector (giving time, talent or treasure) to improve the common good? Why or why not?

  3. .Do the learners feel that this power can include a responsibility to act in the voluntary sector (giving time, talent or treasure) to improve the common good?  Why or why not?

  4. Announce that as a class, they are going to take action to make a difference for an issue of their choosing (based on research) and serve on either a Board of Directors or a Youth Advisory Committee here in the classroom.

  5. Distribute Letter to Parents (Attachment One) for students to take home. Read through the letter together and talk about the project. The project includes the following elements:


    1. survey students and families to find out what issues they are passionate about
    2. Identify organizations that have a mission to meet those needs and create proposals to address a need
    3. Optional: Determine a one-day fundraising project (car wash, cupcake sale, school dance) Option:The teacher may pre-select the fundraiser after gaining administrative approval. The point of this exercise is about the process, and the fundraiser should not become the focus.
    4. Optional: Carry out the fundraiser and donate the profits to the predetermined organization
    5. Reflect on the outcomes/impact and evaluate the process used
  7. Project the sample copy of  Let’s Look Around Survey (Attachment Two) on the board. Discuss the purpose of the survey and what it should accomplish (finding out what people in the community care about). Make sure students understand that it is important to include a variety of people in the sample rather than merely asking friends (decide together who they should survey). Give students a blank copy of handout. As a group, fill in the left column of the survey form with issue areas they brainstorm. (Each survey form should look the same.) Before the next class period, each student surveys at least fivepeople about what issue areas they are passionate. Student will then find a local nonprofit that addresses the top-ranking need on their survey.  Use Guide Star for help with this or a simple Google search.

  8. Optional: Start brainstorming ideas for fundraisers, keeping a list on the board and encouraging students to add to the list over the next couple days.

  9. Day Two:

  10. When the surveys are returned the next day, quickly compile the results and select the two areas of most concern. Unless the class strongly disagrees, these will be the areas on which two groups will make proposals based on investigation of local resources and organizations. [

  11. Explain that all community foundations have a Board of Directors that makes the final decision on who receives funding. Many of the foundations are adding “Youth Advisory Committees” to make recommendations to the Board of Directors for some of their funding choices. The class will follow the “advise and consent” model. The procedure for determining how money will be donated will be the recommendations will come from the Youth Advisory Committees, and the Board of Directors will make the final decision.

  12. Move the class into four teams. Two teams serve as the Board of Directors for a Foundation that addresses each issue. The other two teams serve as the Youth Advisory Committees for the foundation.  The Board team should research its foundation for its mission, activities and current grantees.  The YACs should write a  a brief proposal with a program/activity etc to address a need, including how much the proposal will cost. They will write a proposal using Proposal Form (Attachment Three) and present their recommendation to the Board orally.   Each Board decides whether to fund the proposal, giving a full explanation of its reasoning.

    Encourage the students who are interested to seek opportunities to sit on a Youth Advisory Committee for a local community foundation or for a national service organization. Let them know that their young voices are important, and they are the future participatory citizens and leaders who need practice and experience.

  13. Optional Fundraising Extension: The class designs a low-key, one-day fundraising project to raise money for a local non-profit of their chosing [vote!] that addresses one of the top two issues addressed.

  14. Implement the fundraiser and arrange, if possible, for the nonprofit beneficiary to come to your class to receive the funding.

  15. Evaluate the experience by reflecting on the following:

    • Did this project show that youth can make meaningful contributions to the common good of the community?
    • Were the goals of the project and the consequences for the school, neighborhood or local community accomplished?
    • Did this experience demonstrate the work of the community foundation in the area?
    • Was the work of the Youth Advisory Committees meaningful?

Each student writes a short paper addressing one the following topics: Community foundations benefit from Youth Advisory Committees, the “advice and consent” model in grant making improves decision making, and the experience as YAC member or board member provides valuable experience

Cross Curriculum 

The learners will raise funds in a one-day fundraiser, conduct a survey to determine community need, complete a grant application, present their request to a board of directors and fund a project.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Identify and research public or social issues in the community, nation or the world related to the common good. Form an opinion, and develop and present a persuasive argument using communication tools.
      2. Benchmark MS.2 Discuss a public policy issue affecting the common good and demonstrate respect and courtesy for differing opinions.
      3. Benchmark MS.3 Participate in acts of democratic citizenship in the classroom or school, such as voting, group problem solving, classroom governance or elections.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.5 Describe the responsibility students have to act in the civil society sector to improve the common good.
  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. Benchmark MS.2 Research the need in the school, neighborhood, 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.
    4. Standard VS 04. Raising Private Resources
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Explain in a case statement why resources (volunteers and money) are needed.
      2. Benchmark MS.2 Develop a project budget.
      3. Benchmark MS.3 Develop a service plan.
      4. Benchmark MS.5 Develop competing case statements for distribution of funds among competing priorities.
    5. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Identify outcomes from the service.