Learning to Give, Philanthropy education resources that teach giving and civic engagement

Rallying to the Cause
Lesson 3
From Unit: Bridges for All
Academic Standards
Philanthropy Framework


Students will assess the importance of voluntarism during the Civil War and Reconstruction and today.


Three Forty-Five Minute Class Periods.


The learner will:

  • define the roles of various volunteers during the Civil War and Reconstruction.
  • plan and execute a volunteer effort within the community.

Service Experience:

Although this lesson contains a service project example, decisions about service plans and implementation should be made by students, as age appropriate.
Learn more about the stages of service-learning.

After completing a survey to determine interests and making arrangements with a local nonprofit organization, students will provide volunteer service as arranged.


  • Computer with Internet access and a printer for the computer
  • Pompoms (optional)
  • Transparencies of Brief Biographies (Attachment One)
  • Large poster of Core Democratic Values (Attachment Two)
  • It Can Be Done (Attachment Three)
  • Volunteer Responsibilities (Attachment Four)
  • Overhead projector
  • Overhead transparencies and markers
  • Telephone directories
Handout 1
Brief Biographies
Handout 2
Core Democratic Values - Fundamental Beliefs
Handout 3
It Can Be Done
Handout 4
Volunteer Responsibilities

Instructional Procedure(s):

Anticipatory Set:
Ask students if they have ever heard a cheer where the audience is asked to spell a word. What word is it? (Often the name of the team or its nickname is spelled. Also "victory" is spelled in cheers for sporting events.) Tell the class that you will lead a cheer in which they will supply the necessary letters. Ask for a volunteer to keep track of the letters on the board or chart paper as you lead the cheer. Begin your cheer, shaking your pompoms. Say, give me a "V." Continue until you have spelled "volunteer." At the end of the cheer, say, "What does it spell?" Wait for the correct response. Clap and stop.


Day One:

  • What is a "volunteer?" (One who freely offers his or her service; one who performs a service or good work for others without pay.) Encourage students to discover the definition as it relates to a service completed with no desire for restitution and contributes to the common good.

  • Select one of the Brief Biographies (Attachment One) to read with an emphasis on volunteering. Use markers to emphasize points in relation to the Core Democratic Values (Attachment Two). Students should have prior knowledge about the Core Democratic Values. If not, it will be necessary to develop an understanding of these concepts. Ask students to explain which Core Democratic Value was evident in the selection.

  • Distribute one Brief Biography (Attachment One) to each team of students. Tell students that they will have an opportunity to work with a partner to determine the virtues of an individual from Brief Biographies (Attachment One). They should mark, highlight, or make notes on the sheet. Allow ten minutes.

  • Reconvene students for group presentations. The presentations should focus on the volunteer action, who benefited, and the Core Democratic Value that was emphasized.

  • In a summary discussion, have students assess the importance of "volunteers" during the Civil War and Reconstruction.

Day Two:

  • Ask the learners to discuss whether they as students have a responsibility to act in the voluntary sector to improve the common good. Using It Can Be Done (Attachment Three), survey the class to determine for what type of organizations they would like to volunteer. Reiterate the format that should be used, placing emphasis on how you contact the organization to volunteer your services. What type of jobs can be done? What are the responsibilities of the jobs? Who will be the contact person? What is the address of the organization? How will it benefit the organization and which members of our community will ultimately benefit? Tell students that they are going to present their information to the class the next time you meet. The balance of the class period should be used for this assignment. If the work is not finished, encourage students to complete the assignment as homework.

  • Day Three: Explain to the students that they should pay close attention to the presentations because they will be voting later to select an organization for which to volunteer as a class. After all of the information has been presented and collected, write the names of the organizations on the board or chart paper. Tell students that they are to vote only once and that the organization with the most votes will be the class project for volunteerism and service. Take the vote.

  • Ask students why they think the organization selected would be a good choice. Divide them into groups of three or four to brainstorm about the jobs and responsibilities that are required to make this volunteer effort work. Volunteer Responsibilities (Attachment Four) should be used for gathering this information. Students should work cooperatively for 20-30 minutes. At the end of this time, ask for three volunteers to work in a group to contact the organization.

  • As the teacher, once you have presented the project to your administrator or appropriate supervisor, you will need to prepare a letter for parents/guardians to gain permission for the students to take part.


  • Students should assess their volunteer activity once the project is completed.

  • It Can Be Done is to be used as the lesson assessment.
Information Sheet Rubric

Points Awarded
Clear and detailed answers for 9-11 of the questions are provided
Answers in detail at least 7-8 of the questions
Provides answers to 5-6 of the questions
Detailed information provided for 4 or less of the questions

School/Home Connection:

  • Interactive Parent / Student Homework:
    Permission slip for student participation in the volunteer project.

Bibliographical References:

  • Altman, Susan. Extraordinary Black Americans: From Colonial to Contemporary Times. Chicago: Children's Press, 1989. ISBN0-516-00581-2

  • Fugate, Sandy. For the Benefit of All: A History of Philanthropy in Michigan. Battle Creek: W. K. Kellogg Foundation, 1997. ISBN 1-891445-00-6

  • Philanthropy Timelines http://www.learningtogive.org/timeline/

  • Boston African American National Historic Site http://www.nps.gov/boaf/

Lesson Developed By:

Ramona Purdy
Detroit Public Schools
Van Zile Elementary School
Detroit, MI 48234


Handout 1Print Handout 1

Brief Biographies

Frederick Douglass (1817-1895) became a great orator. He wrote Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave. In the book information was conveyed about slaves, their owners, and places where slavery was prevalent. As he traveled to Europe, Douglass spoke out in favor of Irish freedom, women's rights, and world peace. Frederick returned to the United States in 1847, establishing newspaper called The North Star. Douglass' affiliation with John Brown, who led the famous raid on Harper's Ferry, caused the governor of Virginia to believe him to be the mastermind. A warrant for his arrest was issued. Douglass escaped imprisonment by fleeing to Canada. Returning shortly after the Civil War began, Douglass encouraged President Lincoln to free the slaves and allow them to join the Union forces. Douglass recruited men for the Fifty-fourth and Fifty-fifth Massachusetts regiments. He held many public offices before his retirement. Afterward, Douglass focused on the problems of segregation and lynching, joining the crusade led by Mary Church Terrell and Ida Wells-Barnett.

Lewis Hayden (1815-1889) was born a slave and spent a lifetime trying to free others. He was traded for a pair of carriage horses. After escaping slavery via the Underground Railroad to Detroit, he established a school for black children. He then moved to Boston with his wife Harriet and became a leader in the abolitionist movement. In 1850, Southern slave owners were given authority by the Fugitive Slave Act to retrieve their runaway slaves. Boston, where Hayden and his wife Harriet lived, ceased to be a haven for escaped slaves. The Haydens turned their home into an Underground Railroad station. They reputedly kept two kegs of gunpowder under their front stoop. They greeted bounty hunters at the door with lit candles, saying that they would rather drop the candles and blow up the house than surrender the ex-slaves in their trust. In 1873, Hayden was elected to the state legislature. From 1859 until his death in 1889, he held the position of Messenger to the Secretary of State. Harriet Hayden survived her husband. In her will she established a scholarship fund for "needy and worthy colored students in the Harvard Medical School."

Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906), a liberal Quaker and dedicated American reformer, opposed the use of liquor and wanted an immediate end to slavery. She worked hard to end the injustices to humans in the name of slavery. Susan worked organizing meetings and giving lectures for the American Anti-Slavery Society. In 1863 during the American Civil War, she founded the Women's Loyal League to fight for the emancipation of slaves. After Reconstruction, Anthony fought for the vote for women and the nation's resistance to woman suffrage.

William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879) established The Liberator, an antislavery journal. Garrison's dedication to the abolition of slavery was strong. Garrison's outspoken stand in favor of immediate freedom for slaves made him and his newspaper unpopular with pro-slavery forces in the North and the South. In Columbia, South Carolina, the Vigilance Committee offered a $1500 reward for the arrest of anyone distributing The Liberator, and the Georgia House of Representatives offered $5000 for Garrison's capture and trial. He helped organize the New England Anti-Slavery Society, the first organization in the country based on the principle of immediate abolition.

He helped Prudence Crandall in her struggle to open a school for black girls. For his efforts, the pro-slavery forces in the community threatened to arrest him and turn him over to the state of Georgia for the $5000 reward. On October 21, 1835, Garrison was dragged through the streets of Boston with a rope around his neck. He was rescued and turned over to the mayor who ordered him jailed, claiming it was the only way to assure his safety. The mob, however, attacked the carriage transporting him and almost captured him again.

Garrison had strong opinions about the methods that should be used to bring about emancipation. He did not believe that it could be done through the political process, and would not support any kind of political action. He attacked organized religion and its leaders for not doing enough to fight slavery; in addition, he opposed any attempt at active resistance, believing only in nonviolent disobedience. He also did not limit himself to the issue of slavery; his opinions were just as strong, and as outspoken, on the subject of women's rights. He used The Liberator to attack slavery, discrimination against women, smoking, drinking, the military, the clergy, the government, and cruelty to animals. Until his death in 1879, he concerned himself with other reform movements, especially temperance and women's suffrage.

Adapted from Web site http://www.nps.gov/boaf/williamlloydgarrison.htm

P.B.S. Pinchback (1837-1921) became the first black governor in U.S. history. He became a riverboat gambler, army recruiter, newspaper publisher, dynamic speaker, entrepreneur, civil rights leader and politician during Reconstruction. When his father died in 1848, Pinckney quit school, toiling on canal boats to elude threats to enslave him by his father's family. In 1862 he was recruiting troops for Corps de'Afrique, an all-black New Orleans Civil War regiment. He resigned the following year, citing military prejudice, but emerged after the war as a principal Republican Party organizer and a delegate to the 1867 Louisiana Constitutional Convention. Elected to the Louisiana State Senate in 1868, he was a supporter of universal suffrage, a free public school system, and civil rights for all people. He introduced legislation outlawing racial discrimination in public accommodations. Beginning in 1870 he published The Louisianan, a New Orleans weekly, for 11 years. Selected President Pro Tempore of the State Senate, he was elevated to lieutenant governor when Lt. Gov. Oscar J. Dunn died on Nov. 22, 1871. During impeachment proceedings a year later against Gov. Henry Clay Warmoth, Pinchback was Louisiana's acting governor for 35 days. He relinquished the executive mansion on Jan. 13, 1873. Pinchback ostensibly won the November 1872 election as Louisiana's Congressman-at-large but was refused the seat after a volatile debate. In January 1873, he was elected U.S. Senator but was denied the seat after an election contest that lasted three years. At age 50, he earned a law degree from Straight University, where he served as trustee, and was admitted to the Washington, D.C., bar in 1890. He died there Dec. 21, 1921 at age 84.

Harriet Tubman (1821-1913) received a fractured skull at age 13 while defending another slave from a cruel master. Guided by the North Star, Harriet made her way to freedom in Philadelphia. She was the greatest single conductor in the history of the Underground Railroad. An escaped slave herself, Tubman earned the nickname "Moses" for her heroic exploits in leading slaves to the promised land. Returning nineteen times to the dangerous South, Tubman led more than 300 slaves to freedom, including her own aged parents. Enraged Southern planters offered $40,000 for her capture without success. The wily and fearless Tubman carried a pistol on her freedom raids and if a slave had second thoughts about escaping she pulled her gun and said: "You'll be free or die!" During the Civil War, Tubman worked as a scout, spy, and nurse for the Union army. After the war, she tried to start schools for blacks and worked in support of women's suffrage.

Additional stories may be summarized and presented for student use using Extraordinary Black Americans or For the Benefit of All. See Bibliographical References for more information.

Handout 2Print Handout 2

Core Democratic Values - Fundamental Beliefs



The Pursuit of Happiness





Popular Sovereignty

Common Good


Handout 3Print Handout 3

It Can Be Done

Directions: You are to gather information about local community organizations for Volunteerism and Service. You will be required to make a presentation to the class. Use the back of this sheet if additional space is needed. Some suggestions are the local food bank, Red Cross, local PBS station, an elementary school as an after school reader/tutor, planting flowers, plants or bushes around school or in common area around the community.

1) What is the name of the organization?

2) How do you contact the organization to volunteer your services?

3) Who will be the contact person?

4) Where is the organization located?

5) Which days can volunteer services be utilized?

6) Any age restrictions?

7) What type of jobs can be done?

8) What are the responsibilities of the jobs?

9) Will it benefit the organization and which members of our community will ultimately benefit?

10) Why/how did I select this organization?

11) What do I hope to gain as a volunteer?

Handout 4Print Handout 4

Volunteer Responsibilities

Directions: Write jobs the selected organization may need completed. As a volunteer, list the responsibilities of the jobs or what the organization may expect from you. You may need to contact the organization to find out the titles and responsibilities

Name of Organization: ___________________________________________________________

Address: ______________________________________________________________________

Contact Person: ______________________________ Telephone Number: _________________

Job Title Responsibility


























Philanthropy Framework:

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Unit Contents:

Overview:Bridges for All Summary


Fighting Chance (1850-1877) (A)
Better Way (A)
Rallying to the Cause

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