Who Serves My Community? Creating a Map of Our Nonprofit Sector


Students research and report back to the class about the nonprofit organizations that are serving their community and the many facets of community life that nonprofits are involved in.

Author: Urban EdVenture Faculty

Lesson Rating 
Print90 minutes

Students will be introduced to key ideas about nonprofit organizations, including that nonprofits exist to achieve a mission, serve a target clientele, and are involved in all areas of public and private life.  

  • Internet-connected devices to conduct research online
  • List of local nonprofits with a variety of focus areas (such as sports, education, food, health, housing, etc.)
  • Map of the city. This can be a virtual map, a physical map, or both. Google Maps and Google Earth allow you to create wonderful digital tours that students can use to report out, but there is power in having a physical map of local nonprofits and the community on display in the class or hallway.
Teacher Preparation 

Compile a list of local nonprofit organizations that represent a wide cross-section of focus areas and of your community, geographically.

Vet the websites of the organizations or collect information sheets and promotional material from each organization appearing on the list. This is important because many nonprofits do not have particularly strong web presences due to limited staffing. You may also discover that websites of some organizations are blocked by your campus web filter (for instance, some filters block websites that were created using a blog platform).


Nonprofit, community partner, community, nongovernmental organization (NGO)


In a written reflection, students answer the following questions:

  • What are the main problems in our community that seem to be addressed by our nonprofit sector?
  • After observing the map, does there seem to be a pattern to the location of nonprofit organizations?  Are nonprofits with similar missions concentrated in certain areas of the city?
  • What questions do your observations raise?

A Word About Reflection: A teacher should gauge what he or she feels will work best for reflection: a whole class discussion, asking for volunteers to share after completing a reflection, or keeping written reflections private. The type of reflection a teacher asks students to do can depend on several factors, including the time left after other activities are completed, the tone of the class, how personal the reflection topic may be, and how strong the class bond is.  


Hands On Network’s Volunteer Action Centers at http://www.handsonnetwork.org/actioncenters/gmap


  1. Divide students into working pairs.

  2. Assign each student pair a local nonprofit organization from your list. If you prefer, use an existing resource that lists local nonprofits and allow students to choose; for instance, Hands On Network has more than 245 Volunteer Action Centers across the U.S. through which people can identify local organizations where they can volunteer. 

  3. Students should research their organization and identify the following:

    • Organization’s name
    • Mission
    • Clientele
    • Volunteer opportunities
    • Other needs
    • Interesting facts - like statistics on the organization’s efforts
  4. Students add their organization to the communal map and give a brief oral report to the class.

  5. Ask students to do the reflection and share thoughts from their reflection with the class.