Power and Potential to Make a Difference(12th Grade)

9, 10, 11, 12

Learners read about and discuss individuals who have made a difference. They review the definition of philanthropy and analyze the characteristics associated with philanthropic acts. They reflect on their own power and potential to make a difference.

PrintOne 50 minute Class Period
The learner will:
  • define philanthropy as private action for the common good or voluntarily giving time, talent or treasure for the sake of another and/or the common good.
  • identify acts by individuals for the common good.
  • Reflect on his/her own power and potential to make a difference.
  • Several different stories, or a different story for each student in the class, about people who make a difference, accessed and printed from: The Giraffe Heroes Project at www.giraffe.org and/orRandom Acts of Kindness athttps://www.randomactsofkindness.org/
  • A large sheet of paper posted on the wall to create the “graffiti wall”
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.


Write about a time you stuck your neck out for someone or wish you had.




  1. Anticipatory Set:

    Tell the students you have some interesting stories for them to read. Randomly distribute copies of stories of “Giraffe Heroes” (people who stick their heads out for the common good) accessed and printed from The Giraffe Heroes Project found at www.giraffe.org and/or Stories from the Random Acts of Kindness websitehttps://www.randomactsofkindness.org/Ask the students to silently read the stories, then ask if several students will volunteer to read their story aloud to the class. As each story is read, the teacher or a student should note on a chart:

  2. who was involved,
  3. what specific action was taken,
  4. the risks or sacrifices (opportunity cost) involved,
  5. the individual and/or common good that was served.
  6. After the story sharing, ask the students what each of the stories has in common. They should be able to recognize that they are examples of acts of kindness or philanthropy. Remind the students of the definition of philanthropy if necessary – the giving of time, talent or treasure, and taking action for the sake of another or for the common good.
  7. Discuss with the students if the people who acted philanthropically were celebrities, or famous or particularly rich. Help the students discern that these were “ordinary” people who did small extraordinary acts.
  8. Post a large piece of paper labeled “The Philanthropic Person” on a classroom wall. Divide class into small groups. Using examples from the stories as a basis, ask each group to brainstorm characteristics of someone who would do philanthropic acts: What personality traits would they possess (example: empathy), what skills or resources (example: the ability to perceive a need), and the name(s) of local philanthropists (examples: themselves, relatives, peers, school or faith based organization personnel, community members, etc.)
  9. Tell the groups that they will be creating a “graffiti wall” of ideas about philanthropic people. They may use words, or draw pictures or icons to represent concepts, or create a mind map, etc.
  10. Ask each group to record their ideas randomly on the paper.
  11. When all the groups have finished, ask each to briefly explain their recorded ideas to the class.
  12. To reflect on what they have learned today about the power that an individual has to use time, talent, or treasure to make changes for the common good, ask students to write a paragraph about being a philanthropist. The paragraph should include an understanding of philanthropy, an indication of the characteristics a philanthropic person might possess, and ideas about how they can use their power to be philanthropic. (Challenge them to think about the power and potential they have to make a difference, and how they could focus that power through a special interest they may have. For example: someone interested in sports could volunteer to coach a children’s recreational team, someone interested in animals could join in a walk-a-thon to raise money for the humane society, etc.)
Cross Curriculum 
Students write a persuasive paragraph about philanthropy or an issue for which they want to enlist the help of others.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Define philanthropy to include giving and sharing; volunteering; and private individual action intended for the common good. Explain how a volunteer individual/group can act for the common good.
      2. Benchmark HS.2 Identify and discuss examples of philanthropy and charity in modern culture.