Habits of the Heart® is a program designed to involve young people actively and thoughtfully in philanthropy and voluntary action.

Developed by Indiana Humanities through generous support from Lilly Endowment, Inc., Habits of the Heart aims at transmitting the American philanthropic tradition to the next generation.  Habits of the Heart asks and seeks to answer the question: How can we create a philanthropic ethic — an ethic of serving, giving, and caring — in our children?

Habits of the Heart is an active and stimulating program for youth. Using an experience/reflection model of learning, Habits of the Heart seeks to involve young people in structured activities of serving, giving, and caring so they can learn about philanthropy by doing it. The program drives home experience-based learning by involving young people in active reflection, thereby integrating experience and learning. In short, Habits of the Heart aims to teach young people about philanthropy by helping them to develop positive habits that support serving and giving.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the goal of Habits of the Heart?

To engage young people actively and thoughtfully in developing habits of serving, giving and caring. Habits aims to help pass on the American tradition of philanthropy to future generations. The program:

    • builds youth leadership
    • informs young people about their community
    • helps young people begin to think about money, budgeting and planning for contributions
    • encourages young people to actively serve in the community

How did Habits of the Heart begin?

Habits of the Heart was developed through five years of research and development funded with $5 million in grants from the Lilly Endowment, Inc. The program was coordinated with the “Learning to Give” program of the Michigan Council on Foundations, with support from the Kellogg Foundation. Indiana Humanities oversaw the final evaluation and development of the program and its publications.

Who worked with Indiana Humanities to develop the program? Has it been tested?

Indiana Humanities worked with leaders in the fields of youth, philanthropy, and research, including the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, Community Partnerships with Youth, the Search Institute, the Hudson Institute and the Michigan Council on Foundations as primary partners. The program was developed through field-testing and reviewed by experienced national and regional youth trainers and writers.

How does Habits of the Heart benefit adopting organizations?

Habits of the Heart provides a successful model for engaging young people and members of your organization in enjoyable and productive activities. Habits will help your organization to create new ways for your members and youth to work together. The program is a win-win for youth and youth leaders.


“Young people completing this program will have a clearer view of themselves and their responsibilities to make this world a better place. The focus on giving, caring, and serving is positive and very much needed in our culture. Skills that young people acquire while planning and implementing service projects will be useful throughout their lives.” – Dorothy Linthicum, The Episcopal Children’s Curriculum

“[The materials are] the most imaginative, both in content and process that I have seen in this whole money area. Habits of the Heart has comprehensive resources, logical development, and creative use of design. This is first-class.” – Loren Mead, former executive director of the Alban Institute


Interested in a printed version? Binder kits are available for $50 while supplies last. Contact Bronwen Carlisle by clicking the link below or call 800.675.8897, ext.117 for more information.


Contact Bronwen Carlisle, 800.675.8897, extension 117, or email bcarlisle@indianahumanities.org.