Reaching Out to the Community--Beyond

6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Youth develop an understanding of the value of a service learning project as they realize their responsibility to contribute to the community in positive ways.

PrintOne Forty-Five Minute Session Plus Project Time
  • define common good and community capital.
  • write a letter and design a poster to publicize their project.
  • Posterboard and markers
  • Computers
  • Envelopes and stamps


  1. Anticipatory Set: Explain that, as citizens, each of us has a responsibility to act in order to improve the common good. Together define "common good" (the wealth shared by the whole group of people) and give examples of how we can voluntarily contribute to it. Tell youth that they will get an opportunity to preserve local history in their community, which is a way of contributing to the common good.

  2. Introduce youth to the intergenerational historical writing project. Youth will compile a book consisting of profiles of local citizens, historical accounts, stories, and local legends.

  3. Ask: How will we be helping our community by curating a collection of local stories? Define "philanthropy" (individuals and organizations providing their time, talent, and/or treasures intended for the common good). Also describe the idea of "community capital" (the banked mutual good will and understanding of the people of a community that can be called upon at times of conflict or crisis). Brainstorm ways that community capital has been enhanced in the school and community. Discuss how the historical writing project will enhance "community capital."

  4. Explain: During the next six weeks, each of you will be asked to contribute to our story collection through a written project that you will design. You should begin thinking about older citizens that you know and stories you have heard that could be a source for your writing project. Today, we will reach out to the community to make people aware of what we are doing and solicit their help in gathering information and resources for our collective book.

  5. Brainstorm together a list of community groups that they could contact through a written letter or a posted flyer. 

  6. Discuss what information should be included in the letter or on their flyer. The list should include:

    • name and description of project
    • how residents can help
    • who they should contact
  7. Divide the tasks among the group - letter writing or poster making. By the end of the session, youth should have final letters printed, addressed, and ready to be mailed. Posters/flyers should be completed and ready to post in designated areas. Seek adult support to help post flyers around town after school.

Cross Curriculum 

Read about the service-learning project called Bags of Hope 2018 by Indiana students who were taught using this Reaching Out to the Community--Beyond lesson to guide student learning and action.

Mr. Jones is a middle school teacher from Indiana who values service-learning and philanthropy education for two reasons: "We are helping those in need," he said. "And, we are teaching students how to be empathetic."  

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define the phrase <i>community/social capital</i> and discuss how it relates to all communities.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.5 Describe the responsibility students have to act in the civil society sector to improve the common good.