If I Were Bill Gates

6, 7, 8

Students will understand that foundations often give grants to fund philanthropic activities. The students will have a basic understanding of the grant making process.

Lesson Rating 
PrintTwo Fifty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • explain how endowments (giving of grants) are related to the role of foundations.
  • identify criteria for issuing a local grant.
  • create a simple application form for issuing a local grant.
  • Getting the Background on Foundations (Handout One)
  • Newsprint, markers, masking tape
  • Computer with Internet capabilities.
Home Connection 

Interactive Parent / Student Homework:Students should discuss with their families what criteria they use (or would use) to determine what needy causes are worth supporting.


Learning to Give Web site. http://www.learningtogive.org


  1. Anticipatory Set:Imagine you are Bill Gates and have five million dollars to give to a beneficial philanthropic cause. How would you decide where to spend the money? How would you determine whether or not the cause was worthwhile? Would you make the decision by yourself or would you use a committee? Begin the sentence with, “ If I were Bill Gates...” Write at least seven sentences on this topic.

  2. Go over the responses to the Anticipatory Set. If you have Internet access for students, have them research foundations and the definitions of foundation, endowment and grant. If not, use the information provided in Getting the Background on Foundations (Handout One) or on the “Learning to Give” Web site. Go over the definitions of foundation, endowment and grant. Explain how foundations work. Ask students if they know of any local philanthropists or groups that have given money to a foundation or local cause. Have the students research the local community foundation and report on the causes it supports.

  3. Discuss the concept of needs versus wants. Ask students to name items that are needs for humans (food, clothing, shelter, companionship) and wants (anything other than the basic needs). What are needs and wants of communities? How are they provided in communities (provided by government, individuals and families, nonprofit organizations and for profit organizations)?

  4. Split the class into small teams. Tell them that they have the funds collected in Lesson Four: Connecting Poetry with Philanthropy to donate to a local philanthropic cause. Have students brainstorm a list of criteria for giving money to a worthwhile cause. Using the Internet or local sources, they may research those causes they are considering for support. Have the class report on the information obtained and select one or more groups to support.

  5. So that students become familiar with the work of foundations, they may design a simple application form for grant requests for an imaginary amount of $500. Each group should put their application on newsprint or poster board and display the created form clearly within the room.

  6. Have groups report back to the whole class and the class will then generate a grant application form from the work of the individual groups.


The grant application form and criteria for giving money to a worthwhile cause may serve as the assessment.

Cross Curriculum 

Students will research worthwhile causes they may wish to support with the funds raised in Lesson Four: Connecting Poetry with Philanthropy. They will determine criteria for giving money and make a decision on whom to support.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 05. Role of Foundations
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Name a local community foundation and describe its broad purpose.
      2. Benchmark MS.3 Describe how individuals and organizations can use a foundation for giving.
  2. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
      2. Benchmark MS.2 Research the need in the school, neighborhood, local community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Provide a needed service.