Determining Focus for the Foundation

9, 10, 11, 12

Students identify needs in the school and community and have a discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of keeping the areas of focus for their foundation open or defined to a narrow focus (e.g., addressing environment or poverty). The advantage of an open foundation is the ability to fund a variety of projects based on the varied interests of students. The advantage of a focused foundation is to concentrate money and efforts on one specific area of problems, and students propose a variety of ways to address it.


The learner will:

  • conduct a needs assessment to determine area(s) of focus for the foundation.
  • identify problems people face in the city, neighborhood and school.
  • vote to determine the scope of their focus and types of grants they will consider.
  • brainstorming
  • needs assessment
  • survey
  • prioritizing
  • alternatives
  • consequences
  • plan
Home Connection 

Write a newspaper report on the work of this class/foundation, including a description of the focus (limited or open). Include answers to the reporter's usual questions, such as who, what, where, when, why, etc. Try to be objective. Submit best reports to the school paper and local newspaper.

  • What specific problems do people in this community and school encounter?
  • What are the advantages of focusing on just one area in awarding grants?
  • How would opening grants without limitations involve more people and provide greater opportunities to help the community?
  • How can the foundation get more information about what the problems are?


  1. Brainstorm with the students: List at least three problems that challenge people in the following settings: world, nation, your town or city, neighborhood, school.

  2. How can a foundation help solve a problem?

  3. Students brainstorm any issues they have observed in the school or community that could be addressed by young people applying creativity and service. Ask the students to describe the perfect school or the perfect community. Then think about what would need to change to get closer to that ideal? 

  4. (A school where people show respect for one another and support one another, a community in which everyone has enough to eat.)

  5. Students prioritize and make suggestions about how to prioritize the issues in importance or what they are most interested in. As a group, put the issues in order from top priority to lowest priority to the group. This may include some discussion and voting.

  6. Students conduct an informal debate as to whether their foundation will be open to grants on all the issues or to only a narrow focus (their top issue area).

  7. Students vote to determine focus of foundation.