Solid Foundation

3, 4, 5

Students learn the definition of a foundation and become familiar with the resources of the Learning to Give Website. A representative of a local community foundation speaks to the class about the foundation’s mission, activities and funding.

Teacher Note: In advance, invite a representative from a local community foundation to speak to the class. (If possible, invite representatives from two or three foundations – a community and a family foundation - on consecutive days.) Give the speaker a copy of Attachment One: Foundation Speaker Notes so he or she knows what is expected.

Lesson Rating 
PrintTwo Forty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • define foundation as a nonprofit organization that distributes funds through grants for charitable activities for the common good.
  • become familiar with the resources available on the Learning to Give Website.
  • name at least three charitable organizations in the community.
  • take detailed notes from the representative of a community foundation.
  • write thank-you letters that summarize some of the speaker’s key points.
  • Internet access and large display screen for group participation
  • Computer lab with Internet access for students to browse
  • Journals and pencils
  • Chart paper and markers
  • Student copies of Attachment One: Foundation Speaker Notes
Home Connection 

None for this lesson.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Start the lesson by displaying the Learning to Give Website on the large screen. Tell the students a little about Learning to Give (About and Why Philanthropy Education). Go to the page Briefing Papers under "Teach" and show them the three categories of papers for them to conduct research, especially under concepts and organizations. Have students write the definition of a foundation in their journals. (A foundation is a nonprofit organization started by individuals, families or businesses that supports causes and programs that benefit society for the common good by giving grants of money to worthy causes.) Read about the major types of foundations at the Foundation Center website:


  2. In Lesson One: “Phil”-ing Good, students brainstormed some local foundations and philanthropists with their families. Discuss the examples they brought from home. Using the definitions from the Learning to Give Website, decide whether the examples are foundations (and if possible, what type of foundation).

  3. On chart paper, make a list of local charitable organizations. Star the examples that are foundations.

  4. Look specifically at the definition of a Community foundation: Community foundations are operated by and for the benefit of a specific geographic region. They receive their funds from a variety of donors and are administered by a governing body representative of community interests. The funds are held in an account and grants are issued from the interest earned on the account.

  5. Allow student pairs to browse the Learning to Give Website to learn about philanthropy and philanthropy concepts.

  6. Day Two

  7. Invite a representative from a local community foundation to speak to the class about the foundation’s mission, activities, funding sources and budget. Ask the speaker whether young people are welcome to write grant proposals. If so, what types of needs in the community are appropriate for young people to address? If not, does the speaker know of youth-centered foundations?

  8. The students take notes on Attachment One: Foundation Speaker Notes.

  9. When the speaker is gone, the students write thank-you letters that include at least one sentence summarizing a key point of the speaker. The written letters should apply writing conventions and go through the writing process. Send the notes to the speaker through the mail. (You may wish to have students write their rough drafts in their journals.)


Assess student notes and letters for comprehension of the foundation’s purpose.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 03. Names and Types of Organizations within the Civil Society Sector
      1. Benchmark E.1 Name and recognize the civil society sector as a separate part of the community.
      2. Benchmark E.2 Name an example of a civil society charitable organization.
    2. Standard DP 05. Role of Foundations
      1. Benchmark E.1 Name at least one grant-making foundation.
      2. Benchmark E.2 Name a local philanthropist who has given to a foundation.
      3. Benchmark E.3 Name a corporation or business that has contributed money for the common good.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark E.1 Define and give examples of civil society sector corporations.
      2. Benchmark E.10 Identify local people who have jobs in the civil society sector.
    2. Standard PCS 04. Philanthropy and Geography
      1. Benchmark E.1 Name examples of civil society organizations in the community.
      2. Benchmark E.2 Identify and describe how civil society organizations help the community.