Identifying Community Needs: Choosing and Focusing

9, 10, 11, 12
Students will identify areas of interest and carry out a plan to select a service project, match community needs with their interests, form groups, and contact local non-profit agencies to plan service experiences.
Lesson Rating 
PrintTwo to Three Forty-Five Minute Class Periods
The learner will:
  • Compile a list of community issues and events that are of interest or concern to them based upon a review of media resources.
  • examine what needs exist in the community and form a composite list.
  • form groups to provide service and contact local agencies to set up service experiences.
  • Newspapers and magazines
  • Local telephone book
  • Community Needs Survey (if available)
  • Student journals


  1. Anticipatory Set:Ask students to mention a few of the answers they gave in Lesson One when they were asked to consider the question, "Can one person make a difference in making the world a better place?” Tell students that now they will have the opportunity to test their conclusions by giving of their own time and service.

  2. Distribute a variety of current newspapers and magazines. Tell students to browse through the newspapers and magazines making note in their journals of issues or events that disturb them and ones that make them happy.
  3. Have the class discuss the issues and events that they identified.
  4. After the initial discussion concerning the student-identified issues, shift the discussion to those specific issues where students feel they could make a positive difference.
  5. Students should then form groups of three to five students according to the issues/events that were of interest to them.
  6. Students in each team should use phone books to get the necessary information to contact local nonprofit agencies that deal with the issues identified. Teams should set up appointments to meet with the agencies. Once at the agency they should interview the volunteer coordinator, learning as much as possible about the organization, and volunteer their time. (If a community needs survey is available, this document could be helpful in pairing students with nonprofit agencies.)
Student work in this lesson is part of the final assessment.
Cross Curriculum 
Students will contact local non-profit agencies to plan service experiences.

Philanthropy Framework

  1. Strand PHIL.IV Volunteering and Service
    1. Standard VS 01. Needs Assessment
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Identify a need in the school, local community, state, nation, or world.
    2. Standard VS 02. Service and Learning
      1. Benchmark HS.1 Select a service project based on interests, abilities, and research.