American Philanthropists

9, 10, 11, 12

Students will see how American philanthropists have made a difference in making the world a better place.

Lesson Rating 
PrintFive to Seven Forty-Five Minute Class Periods

The learner will:

  • Understand how individual philanthropists have made a positive difference in peoples’ lives.
  • Use library and Internet resources to research a philanthropist.
  • Identify aspects of a successful multi-media presentation.
  • Make a multi-media presentation on a philanthropist of their choice to the class.
  • Philanthropist List (Handout One)
  • Multi-Media Philanthropists Assignment Guide and Rubric (Handout Two)Spanish version (Handout Three)
  • Library/Media Center with traditional and electronic resources
  • Student Journals


  1. Anticipatory Set: Ask students the essential question: Can one person make a difference in making the world a better place?

  2. Distribute Multi-Media Philanthropist Presentation Guide and Rubric (see Attachment Two).

    • Present a sample presentation on a philanthropist and ask students to evaluate the presentation according to the rubric. (This is a good way to show students your expectations.)
    • Distribute Philanthropist List (Attachment One). [As an option, the teacher may choose to allow students to conduct their own research and select a philanthropist of their own choice whose name does not come from a list. In such a case, do not distribute Attachment One.] Have students select a philanthropist whom they wish to study closely. This person will be the focus of a presentation to the class. They should choose one or two other classmates with whom they will work. In their journals students should write a brief explanation of why they chose their particular philanthropist.
    • Assign students to use library and Internet resources to research their chosen philanthropist.
    • Allow time for students to work in their groups to prepare their multi-media presentation. (Library/media specialists should be used here if they are available to help students use the available technology.)
    • Have students make their presentations to the class.
    • As students are viewing the presentations they should make note of successful aspects of a presentation. Once the presentations are completed, a discussion on what makes a presentation successful, using examples from the students’ presentations, would be meaningful.

Students will be assessed on their presentations with the Multi-Media Presentation rubric. They will also be given a short quiz on basic facts regarding the philanthropists who were included in the presentations.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.II Philanthropy and Civil Society
    1. 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.