Oprah Winfrey

6, 7, 8

A celebrity philanthropist may become focused on a specific cause because her life is connected to the cause. Students read about one celebrity's philanthopic work and then reflect on issues that are important to them.

PrintOne 20-minute class period

The learner will:

  • read about and discuss the work of Oprah Winfrey and the Angel Network.
  • define enlightened self-interest.
  • brainstorm issues that students would like to see addressed by the time they are adults.
  • reflect (may write in journals) on why certain issues are important to him or her.

student copies of Handout One: Oprah Winfrey


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Write this quote on the display board: "I feel the capacity to care is the thing which gives life its deepest significance." --Pablo Casals (cellist) Ask the students what they think motivates some celebrities to care deeply about a specific cause or issue and how this caring enriches their lives.

  2. Give the learners each a copy of Handout One: Oprah Winfrey. Tell them to read the article and discuss the questions in small groups.

  3. Explain the concept of enlightened self-interest [to sacrifice time and resources to the benefit of the whole, which, in turn, benefits self; what is good for the community is good for me]. Ask the students if all small acts of kindness are also good for oneself. Discuss.

  4. As a whole group, brainstorm issues that are important in the community and world. As a prompt, ask the students what they would like to see improved by the time they are adults.

  5. As you review the brainstormed issues, have students reflect on whether something personal in their lives causes them to care about a certain issue. Some students may share their personal stories, or students may write about a connection in their character education journals.

Cross Curriculum 

This character education mini-lesson is not intended to be a service learning lesson or to meet the K-12 Service-Learning Standards for Quality Practice. The character education units will be most effective when taught in conjunction with a student-designed service project that provides a real world setting in which students can develop and practice good character and leadership skills. For ideas and suggestions for organizing service events go to generationon.org.


Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define philanthropy as individuals and organizations providing their time, talent, and/or treasures intended for the common good throughout history and around the world. Give examples.
      2. Benchmark MS.4 Give examples of how individuals have helped others.
    2. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Describe how different needs are met in different ways by government, business, civil society, and family.
      2. Benchmark MS.6 Identify significant contributions to society that come from the civil society sector.
    3. Standard DP 05. Role of Foundations
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Name at least one grant-making foundation and generally describe its purpose.
      2. Benchmark MS.3 Describe how individuals and organizations can use a foundation for giving.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Discuss why some animals and humans will sacrifice for the benefit of unknown others.
      2. Benchmark MS.4 Describe the characteristics of someone who helps others.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define and give examples of the motivations for giving and serving.
  4. 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.