Following in the Footsteps

6, 7, 8

Students follow the example of philanthropists who impacted their community by cooperating rather than competing. Students identify their own giving passions and cooperate with each other and a community organization to plan a project. Examples of "cooperative philanthropists" are taken from the Our State of Generosity website. 

PrintTwo 50-Minute Sessions, Plus time for a service project

The learner will

  • research and identify effective evidence to support a claim.
  • identify a problem and research possible solutions.
  • develop a plan to address a community issue/problem.

Internet access to the Our State of Generositywebsite []: If you do not have internet access, you will want to print out copies of several of the interviewees to have for student research.

Teacher Preparation 
  • Read and be able to direct your students to resources in the Benefits of Participation in Service article (see Bibliographical References), which is a wealth of information with links to even more.
  • Become familiar with the Our State of Generosity website so that you can direct students to a particular participant. You will need to make copies if you don't have computer access.

community: a social group of any size

competition: rivalry between two or more persons or groups for an object desired in common, usually resulting in a victor and a loser.

cooperation: an act or instance of working or acting together for a common purpose or benefit.

philanthropy:  giving of your time, talent and treasure for the common good.

reflection: a fixing of the thoughts on something; careful consideration. 

Home Connection 

There is no handout to connect with home for this lesson although parental input/help with the project would be very beneficial to the students. See Lesson 2, Helping Others Overcome, Handout 1.


University of Michigan.

The Johnson Center for Philanthropy. GVSU. Our State of Generosity website 



  1. Day 1

    Anticipatory Set: On the board write: Considering what we've learned in this unit, if money wasn't an issue, what would you do with your "time, talent and treasure" to help others?

  2. Discuss with students some of their answers and record them on a large piece of butcher paper (or tablet).

  3. Re-introduce the Our State of Generosity online resource. Tell students that they will be researching philanthropists who have made a difference in their own community and state. Explain to students that these philanthropists were able to make a difference by working together through cooperation not competition.

  4. Ask students to turn to a neighbor and share with them about a time where they were able to do something, through the help of another person, that they couldn't/wouldn't have been able to finish alone.

  5. Share some of these with the whole group.

  6. Tell students that they will have the rest of the hour to read about/research in the Our State of Generosity profiles and videos. Have students take some notes about some of the philanthropists so that they can share information with other students later.

  7. Circulate while students are reading (either packets that you've distributed or online) and ask quick questions to assess their learning.

  8. Day 2

    Anticipatory Set: On the board write the following student directions: List 3 new facts that you learned about a philanthropist. Write one way they "cooperated" to successfully make an impact on their community.

  9. Allow time for students to share and discuss their answers to the opener. It's important that they come up with the idea that success in life isn't always about competing and getting ahead of others. Try to draw out how the cooperation between various organizations has built a very strong philanthropic service community in the state of Michigan.

  10. Ask students to think about their answer to the previous day's Anticipatory Set question and discuss what they could do to help their local community through cooperation with local organizations (such as the homeless shelter, food bank/pantry, or humane society). Through a whole-class discussion, identify 3-4 areas where students feel there is a strong need (literacy, homelessness, childcare during job interviews, environmental cleanup)

  11. Next, use the following procedure to come to a consensus about an issue area for a class project. Let students know that they will cooperate and put forth their best effort and go with what the majority chooses.

    • Make a list of 3-4 issue areas/identified needs that have come up in your discussions.
    • Allow some time for students to gather supporting information. For example, they can go to the shelter website to see their needs.
    • Students share their research and ideas for projects (make arguments for their project ideas).
    • Give each student a sticky note and ask them to go to the board and put their sticky note under their choice.
    • Tally the choices...the area with the most is where the class will develop a project to impact.
  12. Guide students into making contacts with local organizations to find out the needs targeting the area that they've chosen.

  13. Use some class time to develop the project plan. For example, make a chart identifying steps and needed materials and assign tasks to individuals.

  14. Make sure that you develop checkpoints where you ask students to reflect how things are developing.

  15. When the project is complete do a final reflection. (For example: I like to use a handout of a gingerbread man or some other figure and fill in the parts with comments. Near the head, write down something that you were thinking while doing this project. Near the hands, write down two things that you did. Near the heart, write down how you felt. Near the feet, write your next steps: What is your plan of action from this point forward?)


Assess student learning through questioning while students are doing research in the Our State of Generosity archives on Day 1. Student notes may be used to check their learning. The completed service project and final reflection are another source of assessment.

Cross Curriculum 

Students will develop a project to address a local community need. Motivation for this project will arise from their research about Michigan philanthropists and the importance of giving to their community. This project could involve serving at a soup kitchen, collecting supplies for a women's shelter, volunteering at an animal shelter, collecting food items for a local food pantry or other choices aimed at the students' passions.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.I Definitions of Philanthropy
    1. Standard DP 01. Define Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define philanthropy as individuals and organizations providing their time, talent, and/or treasures intended for the common good throughout history and around the world. Give examples.
      2. Benchmark MS.4 Give examples of how individuals have helped others.
      3. Benchmark MS.5 Identify the business, government, family, and civil society sectors.
    2. Standard DP 02. Roles of Government, Business, and Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Describe how different needs are met in different ways by government, business, civil society, and family.
      2. Benchmark MS.6 Identify significant contributions to society that come from the civil society sector.
    3. Standard DP 03. Names and Types of Organizations within the Civil Society Sector
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Discuss examples of civil society organizations from a list of categories of organizations.
    4. Standard DP 05. Role of Foundations
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Name at least one grant-making foundation and generally describe its purpose.
      2. Benchmark MS.3 Describe how individuals and organizations can use a foundation for giving.
    5. Standard DP 06. Role of Family in Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Discuss the variety of family relationships in the nation's society.
  2. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. Standard PCS 01. Self, citizenship, and society
      1. Benchmark MS.4 Describe the characteristics of someone who helps others.
    2. Standard PCS 02. Diverse Cultures
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Examine several examples of philanthropic traditions practiced in diverse cultures.
      2. Benchmark MS.2 Describe the importance of hearing all voices in a community and respecting their right to be heard.
      3. Benchmark MS.7 Identify women and minorities who are or have been leaders in the civil society sector.
    3. Standard PCS 03. Philanthropy and Economics
      1. Benchmark MS.13 Describe how philanthropy can reallocate limited resources to meet human needs.
      2. Benchmark MS.7 Give examples of common resources in the community.
      3. Benchmark MS.9 Recognize problems different communities encounter using a "commons" and possible solutions.
    4. Standard PCS 04. Philanthropy and Geography
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Locate and map civil society organizations in the community.
    5. Standard PCS 05. Philanthropy and Government
      1. Benchmark MS.10 Give historic and contemporary examples of a voluntary action by an individual or a private organization that has helped to enhance a fundamental democratic principle.
    6. Standard PCS 06. Philanthropy in History
      1. Benchmark MS.2 Give an example of individual philanthropic action that influenced the nation's history.
      2. Benchmark MS.5 Identify positive philanthropic historic acts or events that helped build the community, state, and nation.
    7. Standard PCS 07. Skills of Civic Engagement
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Identify and research public or social issues in the community, nation or the world related to the common good. Form an opinion, and develop and present a persuasive argument using communication tools.
  3. Strand PHIL.III Philanthropy and the Individual
    1. Standard PI 01. Reasons for Individual Philanthropy
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Define and give examples of the motivations for giving and serving.
      2. Benchmark MS.10 Identify reasons why historic figures acted for the common good.
      3. Benchmark MS.4 Identify and describe the actions of how citizens act for the common good.
      4. Benchmark MS.5 Describe the responsibility students have to act in the civil society sector to improve the common good.
  4. 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 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities and research.
      2. Benchmark MS.2 Identify specific learning objectives from the academic core curriculum that are being applied in the service-learning project.
    3. Standard VS 03. Providing Service
      1. Benchmark MS.1 Provide a needed service.
      2. Benchmark MS.2 Describe the goals of the project and their impact.
      3. Benchmark MS.3 Describe the task and the student role.
      4. Benchmark MS.6 Describe the procedures and the importance of sensitivity to the people with whom students are working.
    4. Standard VS 04. Raising Private Resources
      1. Benchmark MS.3 Develop a service plan.