For Teachers & Families

Giraffe Programs Help Kids Worldwide Become Courageous and Compassionate Citizens

Screen Shot 2019-12-21 at 10.11.43 AM.png

Exciting News—Giraffe Service Learning Program Honored by UNESCO

The Giraffe Project helped invent the concept and Best Practices of service learning two decades ago.. Now its Service Learning Guide will be included in a group of best practices in a UNESCO online s course for 2020! More information at

Giraffe Education Programs—a Brief Summary

In classrooms all across the United States and in English-speaking schools abroad, Giraffe K-12 programs help students build lives as courageous and compassionate citizens, while teaching academic and life skills. In launching its K-12 programs, beginning in 1991, the Project was a pioneer in creating the concept and Best Practices of what came to be called "service learning."

The basic progression in all Giraffe programs is:

~ Hear the Story—Students listen to, watch or read the inspiring stories of Giraffe Heroes—the exceptional people honored by the Giraffe Heroes Project for sticking their necks out for the common good.

~ Tell the Story—They find such heroes in books, in the media and in their own communities—and tell the stories in class.

~ Be The Story—Full of examples of civic involvement, they decide on a public problem that needs fixing, organize and carry out a service project to fix it—and become their own story of brave and compassionate action.

The "learning" in "service learning:" Recognizing that inspiration needs to be combined with skills-building and practice in order to be effective, the Project designed its K-12 programs to give kids meaningful opportunities from kindergarten on up to assess needs in their schools and communities, then design and carry out service projects that help meet them.

As they take on their projects, students learn and practice skills in language arts, social studies and math. They also learn and practice critical thinking skills, as well as the skills of civic engagement such as planning, working in teams, fundraising, resolving conflicts, speaking in public, campaigning for their cause, making good decisions and taking responsibility. They use democratic processes to campaign for their causes, to choose which one they’ll work together on, and each contributing what they do best to the team effort.

With funding from the Kellogg and two dozen other foundations, the Giraffe Project spent 10 years and over a million dollars creating and distributing K-12 programs that remain the gold standard for service learning worldwide.

You'll find an entire section on service learning, including examples and best practices, here.. The same resource in Spanish is here.

Gardeners copy.jpg

Civic Engagement. We also describe Giraffe K-12 programs as "civic engagement," to emphasis their role in helping kids become courageous and compassionate citizens. By guiding kids through real-world experiences in participating actively in civic affairs— starting in the schoolyard and extending out from there—the programs let kids see the positive difference their actions can make in their communities. They learn that they are valuable members of society now and can live their entire lives as involved citizens.

In an age when so much is thrown at kids that’s confusing and threatening, Giraffe K-12 programs give kids something to say Yes! to. They move beyond self-involvement. They see themselves not as objects but as subjects and agents of positive change. Their lives gain meaning from participating actively in their schools, neighborhoods and communities. Taking part in a Giraffe K-12 program gives young people confidence, and 21st century skills; perhaps most importantly, it gives them hope.

Character Education.Giraffe programs are value-based, and fit well into any kind of character education. Education Week, the newspaper of record for educators, has called Giraffe K-12 programs, "the ultimate character education."

Literacy Training. Voices of Hope, a key component of our range of programs, is used as a literacy training tool all over the world, especially in teaching English as a second language.


The Giraffe Program for grades K-2 is a free download here.

The Giraffe Heroes Kit is designed for kids 8-14.

The It's Up to Us program is also a free download and works best for kids 13-16.


Stick Your Neck Out and its Teaching Guide are a superb civic engagement training tool for upper level high school kids.

The Voices of Hope anthology of heroes' stories is best for kids 6-16.

The Voices of Hope Service-Learning Guide is a helpful tool for people from middle school kids to adults.( It is now being translated into Spanish.) Check out its concise, easy-to-follow, seven-step process for designing and completing a successful service project: Choose the Problem—Research the Problem—Decide on a Project—Create a Vision—Make a Plan—Take Action—Reflect, Celebrate and Begin Again,

Giraffe K-12 programs are all sound pedagogy, using the power of story to engage young hearts and minds, constantly drawing forth their own concerns, creativity and altruism. Throughout the process, they find and use the many academic skills they need to achieve goals they've set for themselves. Student-centered learning just makes sense to us, as does the basic psychology of the Hear, Tell, Be sequence.

"The Giraffe Heroes Program has an impact like nothing else does. It's not just something they've memorized—they are learning to live it. This is powerful, powerful stuff."— Sandra Barbaro, Fulmar Road Elementary, Mahopac NY

Check out what's free here ~

teach copy.jpg

That free lesson in Spanish

La Lección Gratuita de La Jirafa

Aquí hay un ejercicio que funciona para todos los niveles de las escuelas, aunque es mejor para el segundo grado y los grados más altos que el Kindergarten o el primer grado. Las respuestas serán diferentes según la edad, pero el proceso siempre...


And we have things you can buy ~


The Giraffe Heroes Kit

For classrooms and after-school programs


Heroes, Literacy and Service-Learning

Voices of Hope is a unique two-part curriculum that includes an anthology of heroes' stories that inspire kids, and a service-learning guide that shows kids how to be heroic themselves by getting engaged in solving civic problems, creating and carrying out projects that...

Screen Shot 2017-01-16 at 2.36.37 PM.png

The program for older teens

Stick Your Neck Out — A Street-Smart Guide to Creating Change in Your Community and Beyond



Here's our Teachers' Magazine—education-related stuff you'll want to read~

Screen Shot 2018-06-05 at 2.07.03 PM.png

Why is My Teenager So Angry?

by Umair Haque

If Sandy Hook didn’t lead to change, why should Parkland? Blogger Umair Haque makes a strong case that teen discontent, welling up from much more than school shootings, may spark the changes that nothing else has.. I don’t see things as bleak as Haque does. But his essay...

Screen Shot 2018-06-05 at 1.07.32 PM.png

Teaching by storytelling

A time-tested aspect of any successful education program is teaching by storytelling.

People have known for millennia that stories stick in the mind, even when the listener might brush off any principles embedded in those stories if they were presented as rules and admonitions. The love...


If your school needs backup information here are Evaluations, Correlations & Field Reports