"Dear Young Philanthropist"

9, 10, 11, 12

After researching the life and work of a chosen philanthropist from history, the learner takes on the role of that philanthropist in writing a letter to the learner. In this letter, the philanthropist discusses his/her motivations and feelings about his/her work, and compares and contrasts his/her work with the philanthropic work of the learner. The learner also prepares his/her previously created visual presentation and the two letters s/he has written for public display.

Lesson Rating 
PrintOne Fifty-Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • summarize the life and work of a previously researched philanthropist in the form of a letter s/he writes in the role of that philanthropist.
  • compare and contrast the work of the philanthropist with the philanthropic work in which s/he is (or plans to be) involved.

Clear contact paper and scissors for "laminating" previously created posters and letters


  1. Anticipatory Set: Write the class' definitions of "philanthropy" and "philanthropist" on the board and ask the class to consider how they, as individuals, have acted philanthropically. Instruct the class to write a short list of their philanthropic acts. (Note: The teacher may need to make suggestions, for example, babysitting or lawn work for neighbors, participating in school or community-sponsored charity events, writing a letter to a public official.)

  2. Using their personal lists and Note Takers Guide (Handout One, Lesson Two) as references, learners should take on the role of the philanthropist they studied to write a reply to the original letter written at the start of the unit. The letter should include a summary of his/her life and work and compare/contrast the philanthropist's work with that of the learner.

  3. After finishing the letter, students should prepare their reports for presentation at school and/or public functions, for example, in the local library, at a "Make a Difference Day" celebration, or at a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day celebration.


Letter two will serve as the assessment, using the same standards and guidelines as letter one, including proper grammar and form, as well as adherence to the Note Taking Guide.

Cross Curriculum 

Students prepare visual presentations on their chosen philanthropist for public and school display. These presentations can be set up for "Make A Difference Day" celebrations, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, or various school sponsored events. These displays are suitable for use in local libraries, city hall, or other public buildings.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Identify and discuss examples of philanthropy and charity in modern culture.
  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.
      2. Benchmark HS.4 Describe and give examples of characteristics of someone who helps others.
    2. Standard PCS 06. Philanthropy in History
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Give an example of individual philanthropic action that influenced national or world history.
      2. Benchmark HS.5 Identify positive philanthropic historic acts or events that helped build the community, state, and nation.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.10 Identify reasons why historic figures acted for the common good.
      2. Benchmark HS.4 Cite historical examples of citizen actions that affected the common good.
  4. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities, and research.