Nonprofit Prophets

Note: Nonprofit Prophets began in 1995 as an initiative of Pacific Bell Education First. It remains online as a resource for those teachers and students who want to use the framework to develop their own community action projects. No support - other than occasional link checking - is provided.

Who | What | Where | When | Why | How

Resources: Research | Technology | Writing | Teaching Guide


Prophets defined
Who is this project created for? Prophets, that's who. Like the quotation says, people who can clearly see what's right and what's wrong in the world. But more than that. Prophets aren't whiners, they are doers! So who are these prophets? You, students, that's who! Who else do you think will change the world?

Specifically, students in 9th through 12th grade English, social studies, science, health, and applied technology classes will serve as core teams investigating a problem in local or global communities that they think needs fixing. Students in other grades can work as consultants, experts, researchers, data gatherers, technologists, graphic artists, etc. to help the core teams.

Professionals from your region as well as the world may also contribute expertise, feedback and support to the student teams developing the projects. What are these projects? Look at the next section!


Nonprofit Prophets is an community action project that challenges groups of students to investigate a problem that they see in the world and then create a World Wide Web Resource page on the Internet that teaches the world about the problem. What kinds of topics/problems will you work on? Here are some possible topics.

Viewing some of the many actual Web sites for nonprofit organizations might give you an idea of the kind of site you could create:

As you can see, there is no one way to create a World Wide Web Resource Page. Different groups use different formats. Some things that they do have in common, however, are:

  • Information that goes beyond what the typical person would know.
  • Expertise that shows an understanding of the complexity of the issues involved.
  • A focus on real world problems or issues.
  • Use of multimedia and online technologies that enhance the user's experience.
  • Quality layout, text, interface, etc. (edited, revised, and polished products)

These are the kinds of Web pages that real people made to understand, serve and solve problems they saw in the world. You should get the idea that Nonprofit Prophets is anything but "playing school" (i.e., doing something that only has value within the walls of a classroom). Explore these web sites so that you have a good feel for what Nonprofit Prophets is about.

More specifically, what you will do is:

Phase 1: Learn the Ropes
  1. To begin, choose a topic / issue that you really care about or that impacts your life directly. For ideas you can look at a list of possible topics. Feel free to choose a topic that doesn't appear on this page.
  2. Use the Resource Page for Topics/Research to help your investigation.
  3. Locate nonprofit partners on the World Wide Web and locally with whom you will collaborate. Use the Resource Page above again or try the Sacramento Community Directory.

    An "Agreements Letter" is available for potential Nonprofit Prophets partners that should help organizations understand if this is a good project for them to become involved with.

  4. Conduct on-going communications with peers, professionals in the field, resources on the internet, and consultants via e-mail and video conferencing.
  5. Write an article or assignment for publication (on the World Wide Web page or brochures you could be creating).
  6. Select a Technology Job that meets the needs of your class and organization then receive training via interactive telelearning (video conferencing) sessions.

Phase 2: Create Prototypes
  1. A very "1996" "Prophets Template" Web site shell is available as a starting point. It is horribly outdated for all but beginning Web developers, however, it might be helpful in terms of the content nonprofit partners might want to post on their World Wide Web page. You might be interested in another group of students at "Plugged In" Learn @ NCPL and Youth in Action Network who also develop Web-based social action pages for individuals and businesses. See, you're not alone!

  2. Develop the technology products that will make up your World Wide Web page or related products (brochures, videos, etc.)

  3. Work with teammates, mentors, contracted workers, nonprofit partners, etc. to create an outstanding project.

  4. Post your prototypes on the Internet's World Wide Web!

Phase 3: Get Feedback and Revise
  1. Get feedback on your posted prototypes from a variety of sources (other younger and older students, professionals, mentors, etc.)

  2. Work with teammates to plan and complete the revisions that you decide are needed.

Phase 4: "Publish!"
  1. Polish your World Wide Web page and any related products so that they show off the best work your team can do.

  2. Work with teammates to develop and revise a presentation of your Web site.

  3. Present your products to the community (including nonprofit partners, mentors, the World Wide Web audience, school members, Education First representatives, etc.).


Nonprofit Prophets takes place on the World Wide Web, through interactive videoconferencing, and in classrooms around the world. Students interact with other students, community people, professionals, social leaders, experts, etc. Part of the task and reward of this project is to create and nurture relationships between real world mentors and enthusiastic students. Once these connections have been made, the creative teacher will find many more ways to leverage the partnerships to everyone's benefit.


Nonprofit Prophets began in September, 1995, after teachers received training in the latter part of the summer. Other schools and nonprofits are invited to participate for on-going partnerships. The project usually spans at least a semester if not a school year, but this is determined by the school and nonprofit partners themselves.


One of the saddest things in the world is a youth who has given up. Too many students don't get involved because they mistakenly believe that they are powerless to change things for the better. Nonprofit Prophets strives to give students the deep feeling that even though sometimes the world is a hard place, answers come from their caring and commitment, not apathy and giving up.


Teachers can begin the process by contacting local non-profit organizations. Larger groups like the United Way might serve as a conduit to other smaller community public service organizations. Set a date and invite all interested groups to come to the school and hear more about the project. Include student teams who can briefly present their interests or skill sets. Allow the nonprofit groups to briefly describe their needs. Other than in person, successful meetings of a similar purpose have been carried out via video conferencing.

Who | What | Where | When | Why | How

Go to: Teacher's Guide | Topic/Research | Tech Jobs | Writing Tasks |

First launched February, 1996
Last revised February, 2005
Created by Tom March, tom at ozline dot com
Applications Design Team/Wired Learning