Lesson from Jane (A) (10th Grade)

9, 10, 11, 12

Students read about Jane Addams whose philanthropy took the form of advocacy and influenced the other economic sectors (government, for-profit or business sector, and households sector) of the American economy/society.



PrintOne forty-five to fifty minute class period

The learner will:

  • explore An Example of Philanthropy from History – Jane Addams.
  • define the four sectors of the American economy/society.
  • identify the nonprofit organizations within his/her own community.
  • define the nonprofit sector as that part of the American economy/society that exists for the purpose of providing a service to the community rather than for the purpose of making a profit.
  • categorize various types of volunteer efforts and formulate ways to serve the common good.
  • Handout One: Four Sectors of the American Economy/Society (student handout, display, or teacher background)
  • Student copies of Handout Two: A Nation of Volunteers In Your Community Today (plus a copy to project on the board)
  • A list of the organizations within the community that provide services. A list can be compiled by using information from: 1.United Way, 2.The local Chamber of Commerce, or 3. Guidestar www.guidestar.com, (Advanced Search -- your community's zip codes and by keyword category)
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.


  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Write the following quotation on the board. Ask students to explain.

    “Deeds make habits, habits make character, character makes destiny!” —Notes from Jane Addams’ college journal

  2. Inform the class that Jane Addams, (1860-1935) was one person who exemplified the American tradition of civic responsibility and philanthropy. The daughter of a prosperous small town businessman, she traveled to Europe after her education. After attending a bloody bullfight in Spain, she decided she had something better to do with her life. She then decided to voluntarily give her time, talent, and treasure to work for the common good in the city of Chicago during a period of large scale industrialization, immigration, and urban growth. She created a Chicago community center in 1893, named Hull House, with clubs and many activities to meet the many social needs of Chicago citizens that attracted more than 2,000 Chicagoans each week. Hull House is still flourishing today as an important nonprofit organization providing vital services to thousands of Chicago area residents. Show her picture if possible using the web site below.

  3. Teacher Notes: For further background information on Jane Addams, check the Learning To Give briefing paper at /resources/addams-jane. To see or print a photo and story of Jane Addams, go to http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/laureates/1931/addams-bio.html. Either of these could be used as a handout for students to further explore this famous woman philanthropist.

  4. Once students have reflected on the meaning of the opening statement(s), ask them to think about how that information might apply to volunteer work. 1.Ask students if any of them are already engaged in voluntary action for the common good in their community. 2.What are examples of the types of things students their age are doing voluntarily? 3.What volunteer activities would they like to participate in or create?

  5. Pick a well-known nonprofit organization within the community (Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, etc.) and lead a brief class discussion by asking the following questions: 1.What does this organization do? 2.Why do they do it? 3.Why doesn't the government do it? 4. Do they make any money?

  6. Divide the class into groups of four to five students. Distribute a copy of A Nation of Volunteers—The 1990s (Handout Two) to each group plus any other materials listed above, such as a phone book or other lists of nonprofits to assist groups with their brainstorming. Ask student groups to brainstorm existing volunteer groups in your community using the handout as a guide. You may want to appoint or have each group choose a recorder and a leader to facilitate their brainstorming. Explain that volunteer groups are a part of the nonprofit sector of our economy and that the nonprofit sector, or independent sector as it is sometimes called, exists to provide a service for the common good of the community rather than for the purpose of making a profit. Examples like 4H, U.S. Marines’ Toys for Tots Christmas Collection (a nonprofit organization from the government sector), United Way, or Habitat for Humanity can be used to help get students thinking and creating their lists.

  7. Once sufficient time has passed to create extensive lists, (approximately 10-15 minutes), call on one group randomly to begin adding to the list on the board or overhead transparency, continuing to label each organization as governmental or nongovernmental. (See extensions) Allow the first group to add two or three and then proceed to the next group until each group has added to the list. Discuss students’ answers in a whole group setting and expand or clarify what various volunteer groups do.

  8. Ask students to determine the general purpose of volunteer groups in the nonprofit sector. (Responsible and caring citizens address social problems by displaying civic virtue and participating constructively in their communities.) Are most of the groups listed working toward community improvement? Reform? Of those purposes, which area most interests the students personally? Which group might they like to work with/for in doing a service project?

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.2 Identify and discuss examples of philanthropy and charity in modern culture.
    2. Standard DP 03. Names and Types of Organizations within the Civil Society Sector
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Recognize and use a variety of terms related to the civil society sector appropriately, and identify the characteristics the terms describe.
      2. Benchmark HS.2 Provide an example of an organization (or a service that it contributes) from a list of categories of civil society organizations.
    3. Standard DP 04. Operational Characteristics of Nonprofit Organizations
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Identify the major operational characteristics of organizations in the civil society sector.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark HS.5 Describe civil society advocacy organizations and their relationship to human rights.
    2. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark HS.7 Identify and give examples of the important roles women and minorities have played in the civil society sector in history.
    3. Standard PCS 06. Philanthropy in History
      1. Benchmark HS.5 Identify positive philanthropic historic acts or events that helped build the community, state, and nation.