How the Community Meets Needs (7th Grade)

6, 7, 8

Students gain an awareness of local organizations that provide services to meet needs in the community. Students learn about the four sectors of the economy that provide help in different forms.

Focus Question: How might individuals and society address the issues of poverty, homelessness and hunger, and their underlying causes?

PrintOne Sixty-Minute Class Period

The learner will:

  • name the four sectors of the economy.
  • give examples of each of the four sectors of the economy.
  • identify the purpose of each of the four sectors of the economy.
  • give examples of how those in need are provided for among the four sectors.
  • identify local resources for those in need.
  • Teacher copy of the Sector Background Information (Handout One)
  • Student copies of The Four Sectors of the Economy (Handout Two)
  • Area telephone books
  • Student copies of the community map from the phone book or map web-site
Teacher Preparation 

It is important to be sensitive to the possibility that someone in your class may have some personal experience with homelessness, hunger and poverty.


 Draw a home and label the parts of the home with words that describe the things a healthy home could provide, such as shelter, safety, warmth, love, stability, a place to do homework. 


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Teacher Note: Before students arrive, push all the desks to the back of the room so that you have a large open space. Write on the board or overhead “Take out a pencil and paper and write about being homeless.”

    As students walk into the room, give them a card that states:

    Your desk is your home in this classroom and it’s no longer available to you. In addition, you must give up your worldly possessions (backpacks, paper, pencil, etc.) by putting them on the back desk. Please look to the overhead (or board) for further instruction.

    It will be come obvious to your students that they cannot do this and, by now, your room is utterly chaotic! Some will sit on the floor; others will complain; some will refuse to do anything. This is expected. Play the role. Be stern about expecting them to do the assignment. Allow a few minutes to pass in order to get reactions from students.

  2. Process the activity by asking:

    • How did you feel about giving up your possessions?
    • How did you feel when you could not complete the assignment and had nothing with which to work?
    • How would you feel if you lost everything in a fire or tsunami or other natural disaster? (Discuss exactly what would be, all property, clothes, mementos, and other valuables).
    • How would you feel if family members lost their jobs and you had no place to live?
    • Who would be there to help you?
  3. Display The Four Sectors of the Economy (Handout Two), review the four sectors of the economy: government, for-profit business, non-profits, and family or household and their purposes. This information can be found in the lesson plan “The Drive (6th).”

  4. Tell the students that you will be philanthropic and provide paper and pencil for them to use. Tell students to sit on the floor for the review of the four sectors of the economy.

  5. Pose these questions in relation to the fifth question from the activity above:

    • What could the family or household do to provide you with assistance?
    • What could government do you help you?
    • What role could the for-profit or business sector play in providing help?
    • How can the non-profit sector be of assistance? What organizations do you know that provide assistance for those in need?
  6. Explain to students how to find organizations in the phone book or suggest search terms on the Internet. Look under Social Service Organizations in the phone book. Needs to be met could include food, shelter, health, clothing. Consider soup kitchens, homeless shelters, food pantries, rescue missions, health clinics, etc.

  7. Put students into four teams; food, shelter, health, clothing. Distribute two phone books and a community map to each group. Using the phone book as a resource, have students identify agencies that aid needy individuals and families in these four areas. (Some organizations will help with more than one area and perhaps all four areas.)

  8. Teacher Note: It may be difficult for the students to determine the services of some of the organizations from their titles. If possible have a computer(s) with Internet connection available for a student(s) from each group to research those organizations. If computer searches are not possible, the teacher should help the students determine what services organizations might supply.

  9. Plot the location of the agencies on the maps provided. Allow 15-20 minutes.

  10. Display a master copy of the community map and have selected students from each group plot the agencies on this map, color coding their organizations to the needs they meet, such as red = food, blue = health, etc. If an organization is already plotted on the map, the appropriate colored check mark could be added by subsequent teams. For instance, The Red Cross might have all four colors of check marks because it helps with food, shelter, health and clothes.

  11. Ask students to name one organization they found that they would like to support or about which they would like to learn more.

  12. Hold a reflection discussion asking students if they think their community would be able to meet their needs if they were suddenly without a home and possessions. Why or why not?

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.5 Identify the business, government, family, and civil society sectors.
    2. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Describe how different needs are met in different ways by government, business, civil society, and family.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 04. Philanthropy and Geography
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Locate and map civil society organizations in the community.
    2. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Participate in acts of democratic citizenship in the classroom or school, such as voting, group problem solving, classroom governance or elections.