In this lesson, students will learn about the Millennium Development Goals that were created to support the world’s poorest people and the Millennium Villages Project that was created to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. The film Breaking the Poverty Trap will be shown to help students attain a working comprehension of these difficult topics.

Essential Questions

● Is it possible to achieve a shared vision?

●  Does our local community have issues similar to those in the Millennium Villages?

 Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to:

● Identify personal and group qualities needed for successful collaboration

● Describe the goals of the Millennium Villages Project

● Identify sub-Saharan Africa on the Introduction to the African Continent digital map

● Work collaboratively on building their MVP Glossary Board 

Common Core State Standards





MVP Glossary

Sub-Saharan Africa: geographically, the area of the continent of Africa that lies south of the Sahara. According to the UN, it consists of all African countries that are fully or partially located south of the Sahara. 

 Millennium Villages Project (MVP): was a rural development initiative that ran from 2005-2015 and operated in ten sub-Saharan African countries to achieve the eight Millennium Development Goals, which aimed to improve the lives of the world's poorest people. The MVP took a holistic, community-led approach to sustainable development by employing a multi-sector effort, targeting several aspects of society at once: health, agriculture, education, business development, and infrastructure.

  Sustainable Development is a concept — targeting sectors of society such as health, economy, agriculture, and education-that satisfies the needs of the present without depleting essential resources that will be required in the future.

Materials for Instructor

●  Whiteboard, blackboard, flip chart, or Jumbo Post-Its.

●  Millennium Development Goals

●  Breaking the Poverty Trap film


Materials for Students

●  MVP Journals

Room Setup

Be prepared to break into working groups comprised of 3-4 students. 

I.  Introduction to the Millennium Development Goals (10-12 min.)

Step One

Project the Millennium Development Goals onto the board and discuss their history.

In the year 2000, leaders of 189 countries met at the United Nations Headquarters and created the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs): eight goals with measurable targets and clear deadlines for improving the lives of the world's poorest people. The leaders came together and created a single mission and the steps to reach their goals.


1.    To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

2.    To achieve universal primary education

3.   To promote gender equality and empower women

4.   To reduce child mortality

5.   To improve maternal health

6.   To combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases

7.   To ensure environmental sustainability

8.   To develop a global partnership for development

Step Two

Class discussion entry-point questions can include:

● Why do you think these goals are considered significant?

● Do you think it makes a difference that 189 leaders signed the document rather than just several leaders? Do you think there is power in numbers?

● Is there a specific MDG you think would be helpful in your community?


II.  Group Brainstorming & Quick Writing Activity (5-7 min.)

Have students sit in groups of three to four to reflect on their personal experiences, collaborating within the group to reach a shared vision.

Step One

Discuss a time when you have collaborated within a group to reach a singular goal.

Step Two

Together, identify qualities a successful and effective group should possess in order to reach a shared goal. Write them in your MVP Journals.

Target answers: Group members should have the following qualities:

● Clear and defined roles

● Specific responsibilities

● Share ideas openly

● Share constructive criticism

● Share leadership responsibilities

● Clear communication

● The ability to create a clear plan with a timeline

● The ability to compromise


III.  Introduction to the Millennium Villages Project (5 min.)

Share with the class that we will now learn about the Millennium Villages Project, which was created to support the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Go over the full definition on the MVP Glossary Board with the class. Focus on the overarching goal of the project, which was to take a community-led approach to empower communities in sub-Saharan Africa to become part of the solution to ending their own poverty issues.


IV.  Introduce the Concept of Sustainable Development (5 min.)

Go to the MVP Glossary Board and introduce sustainable development. Explain to students that sustainable development is a concept — targeting sectors of society such as health, economy, agriculture, and education — that satisfies the needs of the present without depleting essential resources that will be required in the future.

To help students have a clearer understanding you can share the following examples:

● When someone is taught to read they will then be able to get a job and earn income to support their family.

● When a road is built or fixed in a community it not only helps current citizens connect to outside communities but also future generations.


V.  Watch Breaking the Poverty Trap (8 min.)

Share with students that we will now watch the film Breaking the Poverty Trap to learn more about the Millennium Villages Project and the Millennium Development Goals. Ask them to identify goals that the MVP team had set for the project.


VI.  Film Discussion (10 min.)

Launch the discussion by asking students, “What does it mean that the MVP took a community-led approach to support the villages?”

Target answer: To support the people of the village.

Follow-up questions can include:

● Can you list at least three of the goals discussed in the film for the shared vision and mission of the project?

● What are some examples of the community-led approach to development in the Mayange village cluster?

● Can you list one example of sustainable development within one of the projects?


Target answers:

            MVP teams training doctors and nurses.

            Providing mosquito nets for community members to use.

Building schools for them to educate children, which will create future income opportunities for the next generation.


VII.  Homework

Ask students to think of an example of community-led action at work in their own communities, and to come to the next class prepared to discuss it.