I Am Who We Are

6, 7, 8

Students learn about the philanthropy of historical figures. Students explore how their lives have been influenced by past philanthropic acts and decide how they can benefit others.

Lesson Rating 
PrintTwo Fifty-Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • describe how the philanthropic actions of three historical figures have influenced society.
  • compare and contrast values and beliefs of self with historical figures.
  • define philanthropy and list five examples of how students could be philanthropists.
  • commit to completing three acts of philanthropy.
  • Internet accessibility
  • poster board and markers
  • T-Charts of Three Historical Figures (handout)
  • Student copies of Poster Project Rubric (handout)
Home Connection 

Students will take the poster home and explain the significance of philanthropy and their project.

  • Learning to Give White Papers about historical people https://www.learningtogive.org/teach/white-papers 
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. text of speech http://www.mlkonline.net/dream.html


  1. Anticipatory Set: Share the “I Have a Dream” speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. on video or in writing. 

  2. Brainstorm words to describe how they felt listening to the speech. 

  3. Define philanthropy as “giving time, talent, or treasure for the sake of another, or for the common good.” Explain that philanthropy is an active effort to promote human welfare.

  4. Using the list on the board, explain how Martin Luther King, Jr. was a philanthropist.

  5. In the computer lab have students research historical figures and their philanthropic acts. https://www.learningtogive.org/teach/white-papers

    Students each list three historic figures on the handout and describe the philanthropic acts for which they are known, focusing on the time, talent and/or treasure. 

    They list the characteristics they have in common with the historical figure in the left column, and list the values or beliefs they do not have in common in the right column.

  6. On the back of the page, have students list five examples of how a 10-15 year old student could be a philanthropist. When lists are complete, have students pair off and discuss their examples. Discuss as a whole group and write ideas on a chart for future reference.

  7. Day Two

    Distribute and explain Poster Project Rubric (handout). Students illustrate three acts of philanthropy that they will commit to do in their home/family, local community, and school. Have students select a quote from one of their chosen historical figures to become the title or theme of their poster project.

    They present and display the finished posters.


Assess student work on the Poster Project Rubric and in the research and T-chart activity.

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 06. Role of Family in Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Discuss the function of family traditions and role modeling in teaching about sharing and giving.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.10 Identify reasons why historic figures acted for the common good.
      2. 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.