People Who Make a Difference

6, 7, 8

This lesson will enable students to gain a better understanding of how individuals within the community work for the common good. Students will research individuals who are acting philanthropically in their own community, supportive of a core democratic value.

Lesson Rating 
PrintTwo to Three Fifty-Minute Class Periods

The learners will:

  • demonstrate knowledge of a minimum of four core democratic values.
  • identify key community people involved in philanthropy in accordance with a core democratic value.
  • describe and evaluate the philanthropy he/she has researched.
  • demonstrate effective interview skills through interviewing an individual engaged in philanthropy.
  • design and select additional projects in which he/she can personally support core democratic values within the community.
  • Yellow pages for each group
  • Internet access for web site:
  • Pencil, paper
  • Attachment One: Core Democratic Values
  • Tape recorder, if available, for interviews
Home Connection 

Interactive Parent / Student Homework:Students ask their parents which three core democratic values they believe to be the most meaningful to them and why.


  1. Anticipatory Set:Write the term “Core Democratic Values” on a large sheet of paper or board. Ask students to reflect on the words and suggest what those values are. You may have to check for understanding of core, democratic and values. Give students a copy of Attachment One: Core Democratic Values.

  2. Divide the class into groups of three or four students to brainstorm and list as many groups and/or individuals as they can who support CDV’s within their communities. Explain that the person may work or volunteer for an organization such as the Red Cross or Boy Scouts, foundation such as the Ford Foundation, or be a regular volunteer at a local hospital, nursing home, community center, etc. (Information about local community members who have private foundations can be found at , zip code search). Allow no more than ten minutes.

  3. Bring the class back together to discuss the groups’ findings. A student recorder will list the individuals and groups on the board.

  4. Students will then select an individual or group representative to be interviewed, based on the philanthropy, and associate that philanthropy with a core democratic value.

  5. Students will develop a list of questions to ask the person.

  6. Students will schedule the interview by phone or in person.

  7. The student will write a one-page essay based on the interview incorporating the following information:

    • Person interviewed
    • What that individual does
    • Describing the core democratic value(s) that are demonstrated through this philanthropy
    • Evaluating the service to community
    • Describing their reaction to the contribution the person they interviewed is making to the community
  8. Students will share their interviews with the class.

  9. Culminating Reflective Activity:Students will describe how they can use their time, talent andtreasure to provide for the common good and reinforce a core democratic value.


Students will be evaluated on their class participation and by teacher observation of the class. Students will also be evaluated on the essays that they write regarding their interviewing of a person in the community who supports CDVS.

Cross Curriculum 

Students will select an individual to interview about their involvement in philanthropy, which supports a core democratic value.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Identify civil society organizations that protect and speak for minority viewpoints.
  2. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Identify and describe the actions of how citizens act for the common good.
  3. 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.