Why I Serve

9, 10, 11, 12

Using the radio broadcast "This I Believe" as a model, learners create visual or audio statements of their beliefs about volunteering and serving. Each presentation communicates the culture, experiences, and motivations that influence the learner's attitude about service. After presenting their statements to the class, the learners discuss how to use the presentations as a form of advocacy to promote civic engagement in the community. This lesson incorporates reflection and a demonstration to a wider audience.

PrintTwo 50-Minute Sessions, Plus time to prepare a presentation

The learner will:

  • create and present a visual/audio mission statement that expresses "Why I Serve."
  • share the results of the project with families and the community.
  • completed copies of Personal Mission Statements from Lesson Two.
  • Internet access and speakers to play NPR radio show "This I Believe."
  • Optional: copy of handout below Project Plans for whole-group planning of a service project to share their motivations for service
Teacher Preparation 

In advance, choose an appropriate essay on NPR's "This I Believe"  https://www.npr.org/series/4538138/this-i-believe 

Browse the current and 1950's stories on the This I Believe site to find stories of service, giving, and dedication to public service. Preview the essays before sharing with youth since the essays are intended for an adult audience. Suggestion: "Life Is an Act of Literary Criticism" by Luis Urrea: https://www.npr.org/2009/04/23/103362391/life-is-an-act-of-literary-creation



  1. Anticipatory Set

    Play an audio clip of a "This I Believe" episode. Discuss and identify the central belief statement of the episode.

    Ask the learners to reflect on their own mission statement created in the previous lesson and think about a belief statement central to their mission. 

  2. Introduce the presentation project. Each learner will develop a 3-minute video/audio (or other format) presentation that shares their belief about service: "Why I Serve."

    The presentation will also include supporting information about the learner, such as cultural background, personal experience, and motivations. Discuss the expectations and due date for the project. 

  3. Learners may work together, but each person creates a separate presentation. The preparation may take several days. 

  4. View or listen to the completed presentations together. After each presentation, reflect on the central themes.

  5. Discuss how these presentations can act motivation or advocacy to connect people and make the world a better place (similar to Matt Harding we learned about in lesson one). Guide the learners to take action to share their visions with a wider and appropriate audience. The planning sheet below may help.


Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define philanthropy to include giving and sharing; volunteering; and private individual action intended for the common good. Explain how a volunteer individual/group can act for the common good.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Discuss and give examples of why some humans will sacrifice for the benefit of unknown others.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define and give examples of motivations for giving and serving.
  4. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Describe the goals of the project and their impact.
    3. Standard VS 05. Integrating the Service Experience into Learning
      1. Benchmark HS.3 Identify outcomes from the service.