November 27, 2023 7:40 am

Students Who Give: The Value of Charitable Giving for Children

Students embrace the opportunity to donate to charitable organizations when given the option through educational technology.

November is a month often associated with gratitude and giving. In fact, one report states that 37% of all giving happens during the last three months of the calendar year.

Many people view donating to nonprofit organizations or individuals in need as a way to help others, but research has also found that charitable giving is good for the giver. Individuals who donate to others report feeling happy, while charitable giving also makes us feel good about ourselves and others. Additionally, giving to others helps us find meaning and purpose while giving us a sense of connection to the world.

Children who perform acts of kindness reported a higher likelihood of social acceptance and academic achievement and developed empathy for others. Studies have found that even very young children are innately compassionate and giving. Additionally, members of Generation Z—nicknamed “Philanthroteens”—have even stronger feelings about giving as they are concerned with the planet and the world around them. However, children often do not have much to contribute in the way of money or gifts, leaving an opportunity for parents or other family members to demonstrate the value of giving time and talents by incorporating simple acts of service into family time. Schools and educators can also incorporate age-appropriate service projects into classroom time, such as knitting hats for children going through cancer treatments or visiting elderly patients in nursing homes. Additionally, organizations can help encourage generosity in children by making donations accessible and applicable to needs that relate to kids. All these factors may be why thirty percent of Generation Z have already donated to an organization.

Math Students Pay It Forward

At Imagine Learning, charitable giving is built directly into our digital education programs. Students earn points when they complete math lessons in Imagine Math, and these points can be used toward upgrading student avatars, achieving class goals, or cash donations to charitable causes.

It is amazing how often students donate points toward local food banks, victims of natural disasters, or other meaningful causes. Time and time again, Imagine Math students choose to give rather than personally benefit from their earned points.

Since the Imagine Learning charitable giving program began in 2008, students who have used Imagine Math have donated 3.9 trillion math points, completed more than 6.1 million math lessons, and worked through more than 195 million math problems for a total giving of $909,690. In 2023 alone, Imagine Math students donated $71,000 to a variety of organizations, such as The American Red Cross, No Kid Hungry, 4-H, PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center, as well as regional food banks across the country. This November, Imagine Learning students donated $5000 each to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, an organization that covers secondary education expenses for children of fallen special operations soldiers, and Feeding America.

“Since 2015, Imagine Learning’s amazing students’ participation in the yearly ‘Do Math! Support a Veteran’ campaign has provided over $47,000 for college scholarships for children who lost a Special Operations parent in the line of duty… We have over 1100 children to educate, and we are gaining more every year. We now support 198 college students. Imagine Math student contributions make a real impact for them.”

Retired Colonel Sean Corrigan

Executive Vice President for Special Operations Warrior Foundation

Students Share Their “Why” For Giving

One of this year’s top-donating Imagine Math students, who gave their math points to PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center during October for Anti-Bullying Month, was asked why they donated. The student, who attends Wilson Community School in Alpena Public School District in Michigan, responded, “I want bullying to stop.”

Christian C., a student at STEAM Academy Middle School in the Ferguson-Florissant School District of Missouri, was also a top donating Imagine Math student this year, giving his points to PACER’s. Christian says he donated his points to charity because, “I’m a social cause junkie. I love to give back.”

Akiles L. of Shirley Dill Brothers Elementary, Alvin Independent School District (ISD) in Texas said, “I donated generously to the 4-H charity because it is the right thing to do. It makes me happy when I give my math points to charity because I am earning knowledge and helping people at the same time. I would tell students that it feels good to earn math points, but it feels better to help people in need.”

Aarush A. of Shirley Dill Brothers Elementary, Alvin ISD in Texas explained his “why” for donating Imagine Math points. “It was a hard decision to give away all of my hard-earned math points but what made it easier was the fact that it was going to a very good cause. I feel really bad to see people bullied and I am glad that finally I was able to help in my own little way.”

Teachers Witness the Benefits of Giving

Teachers also share that they love watching their students learn the joy of giving. Nathan Calcari, who teaches at STEAM Academy Middle School in Ferguson-Florissant School District, Missouri said, “I appreciate the [students’] generosity in giving up their hard-earned points to charity. This goes right along with the kindness piece of our school vision.”

Lisa Lubarsky, a teacher in Woodbridge Township School District in New Jersey shared, “I love that Imagine Math gives an opportunity for students to donate their Think Points. It is an added bonus to their hard work and efforts. Student choice is also a key component with many options for donations. When my students give money to charity, they are very proud!”

And, for the record, students are not donating their math points for notoriety. Only the child knows when they choose to give their points in Imagine Math. This tells us that students do not contribute to organizations for recognition; they donate because it feels good to help others.

In this day of selfies and social media, it is encouraging to see how the younger generation is inclined to help others in the world around them. With parents, educators, and organizations working to create opportunities to give and feel the benefits of giving, today’s children may become the most generous generation yet. 

About the Author

Lisa Wise, Customer Engagement Manager at Imagine Learning

Lisa Wise

Customer Engagement Manager at Imagine Learning

Lisa Wise has worked in the edtech industry for over 24 years, most recently as the Customer Engagement Manager at Imagine Learning. Lisa loves the opportunity to honor student achievement through engagement programs that get students excited about learning. A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, Lisa lives with her family, dog, and beautiful array of plants in Pittsburgh, PA. She loves sports, gardening, and visiting her local garden center.