Charles Hackley—A Man with a Plan

3, 4, 5

Students will research Charles Hackley, a major historical philanthropist from the Muskegon community, and identify his many philanthropic acts.

Lesson Rating 
PrintTwo to Three Sixty-Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • describe the philanthropic work of Charles Hackley.
  • identify the three Ts of philanthropy and apply them to the contributions of Charles Hackley.
  • share his/her knowledge of Charles Hackley's philanthropy through an original product.
  • Charles Henry Hackley, 1837-1905 (Handout One)
  • Charles H. Hackley's Contribution to Muskegon (Handout Two)
  • Charles Hackley Research Questions (Handout Three)
  • Parent Report (Handout Four)
  • Paper, pencils, construction paper, poster board, glue, scissors
  • Crayons/markers/colored pencils
  • Computers or reference material
Home Connection 

After doing research, ask students how important it is to know about Charles Hackley and his contributions to Muskegon. Brainstorm some questions they could ask adults in their families and the answers to these questions or use the questions in Parent Report (Handout Four). Have them go home and interview at least two people in their family about their knowledge of Charles Hackley. After the interview, students should present the new information they learned in their research. The next day find out how their interviews went.

  • (biography of Hackley)
  • (picture tour of Muskegon)


  1. Anticipatory Set: Either by dressing up or merely assuming the character of the philanthropist being studied, introduce yourself to the students and ask them if they know any of the great things you have done for the community. (Some of the students may know a little bit about the philanthropist but most will probably know very little.) Tell the students that you think it would be fun to have them research your work and share with you and the rest of the class what they learned.

  2. Define philanthropy as "the giving and sharing of time, talent, or treasure intended for the common good." Make sure students understand the three "Ts" and can give examples. Define and get examples of common good. Write the definition of philanthropy on a large sheet of paper and keep it posted during the unit. Teacher's Note: If you wish to spend more time on this topic, you may want to read over or teach the Grade 3-5 unit Real Heroes before this one to introduce these concepts.

  3. Provide the children with a list of Web sites, trade books and reference material where they would be able to research Charles Hackley (or your local philanthropist). Go over the material with students. Teacher's Note: If lack of resources or computer access poses a problem, students may be given Handout 1: Charles Henry Hackley, 1837-1905 and Handout 2: Charles H. Hackley's Contribution to Muskegon.

  4. Break the class into groups of about four or five. Take the students to a computer lab or library and have them answer Handout 3: Charles Hackley Research Questions. Since students will have to display their information in some way later in the lesson, remind them to collect relevant pictures they may want to use. Allow one to two hours for research of the topic.

  5. Explain the project to the class. Explain that students, working in groups, may make a poster, rap, essay, or play displaying all of the information on their question sheet (Handout 3). Allow groups one to two hours to complete their projects.

  6. Set aside another hour the following day so each group may present its project to the class.


Grade the projects based on how fully they include the information requested on the question sheets.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark E.4 Give an example of how citizens act for the common good.