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    John Germ announces that Rotarians have met the challenge and need to continue to advocate and fundraise for polio eradication.

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    Rotary Peace Fellows study together at the International Christian University (ICU) located in Mitaka, Tokyo, Japan.

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    A local women's group in Uganda, who hope to sell their products internationally, are supported by the Humanitarian Project.

The mission of The Rotary Foundation is to enable Rotarians to advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through the improvement of health, the support of education, and the alleviation of poverty.

The Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation supported solely by voluntary contributions from Rotarians and friends of the Foundation who share its vision of a better world. Since 1947, Rotarians have contributed almost $2.9 billion to The Rotary Foundation to help Rotary do good in the world.

Rotary’s top priority remains the global eradication of polio, while Rotary’s six areas of focus provide direction for 34,000 clubs and 1.2 million members as they reach out to meet the diverse needs of families and communities in their own neighborhoods and around the world.


In 1917, RI President Arch C. Klumph proposed that an endowment be set up “for the purpose of doing good in the world.” In 1928, when the endowment fund had grown to more than US$5,000, it was renamed The Rotary Foundation, and it became a distinct entity within Rotary International. Five Trustees, including Klumph, were appointed to “hold, invest, manage, and administer all of its property . . . as a single trust, for the furtherance of the purposes of RI.”

Two years later, the Foundation made its first grant of $500 to the International Society for Crippled Children. The organization, created by Rotarian Edgar F. “Daddy” Allen, later grew into the Easter Seals.

The Great Depression and World War II both impeded the Foundation’s growth, but the need for lasting world peace generated great postwar interest in its development. After Rotary’s founder, Paul P. Harris, died in 1947, contributions began pouring into Rotary International, and the Paul Harris Memorial Fund was created to build the Foundation. That year, the first Foundation program – the forerunner of Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholarships – was established. In 1965-66, three new programs were launched: Group Study Exchange , Awards for Technical Training, and Grants for Activities in Keeping with the Objective of The Rotary Foundation, which was later called Matching Grants .

The Health, Hunger and Humanity (3-H) Grants program was launched in 1978, and Rotary Volunteers was created as a part of that program in 1980. PolioPlus was announced in 1984-85, and the next year brought Rotary Grants for University Teachers . The first peace forums were held in 1987-88, leading to the Foundation's peace and conflict studies programs .

Throughout this time, support of the Foundation grew tremendously. Since the first donation of $26.50 in 1917, it has received contributions totaling more than $1 billion. More than $70 million was donated in 2003-04 alone. To date, more than one million individuals have been recognized as Paul Harris Fellows – people who have given $1,000 to the Annual Programs Fund or have had that amount contributed in their name.

Ending Polio

Polio Plus is one of the important projects undertaken by the Rotary Foundation. After 25 years of hard work, Rotary and its partners are on the brink of eradicating this tenacious disease, but a strong push is needed now to root it out once and for all. It is a window of opportunity of historic proportions. Reaching the ultimate goal of a polio-free world presents ongoing challenges, not the least of which is a hundreds of million dollar funding gap. Of course, Rotary alone can't fill this gap, but continued Rotarian advocacy for government support can help enormously.

As long as polio threatens even one child anywhere in the world, children everywhere remain at risk. The stakes are that high. The Rotary Foundation continues to raise funds for this important project.

An army of Rotary volunteers is immunizing children, raising funds, and increasing awareness of polio. Polio has decreased 99 percent worldwide since the Global Polio Eradication Initiative began in 1988, and only four endemic countries remain: Afghanistan, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan. Confident in Rotary’s commitment to the effort, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded Rotary two grants totaling $355 million.

"If we all have the fortitude to see this effort through to the end, then we will eradicate polio." Bill Gates

Energized by the launch of a new strategic plan and the highly effective bivalent oral polio vaccine, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative has scored significant gains against the disease. Rotary is a spearheading partner in the GPEI, along with the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Polio declined by 95 percent between 2009 and 2010 in India and Nigeria, the sources of all recent wild poliovirus importations into previously polio-free countries. In addition, 15 countries in Africa have stopped outbreaks of the disease that started in 2009, according to the GPEI Independent Monitoring Board.

WHO calls the progress encouraging “but the job is not yet finished,” said WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, at the World Health Assembly in May. “We must see this through to the end.” WHO estimates that one billion people suffer from neglected tropical diseases. One in six people can’t afford to pay for their own health care. Rotary’s work in disease prevention and treatment addresses these critical areas of need by providing immunization or medical care for patients and training for health care professionals.

Peace Centers

provide training in conflict resolution to a new generation of leaders. Rotary Peace Fellows are leaders promoting national and international cooperation, peace, and the successful resolution of conflict throughout their lives, in their careers, and through service activities. Fellows can earn either a master’s degree in international relations, public administration, sustainable development, peace studies, conflict resolution, or a related field, or a professional development certificate in peace and conflict resolution. Peace Centers are located at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand, Duke University and University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, USA, International Christian University, Tokyo, Japan, University of Bradford, West Yorkshire, England, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, and Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden. Fellows are chosen from countries and cultures around the globe based on their ability to have a significant, positive impact on world peace and conflict resolution during their careers.

Millions of people around the world have been displaced by armed conflict or persecution; others struggle in lawless states that resulted from political or natural disaster. The Rotary Peace Centers are at the heart of Rotary’s peace and conflict resolution/prevention efforts, equipping graduates with the tools to make an immediate impact in conflict and post-conflict areas.

More Rotary Foundation Programs

Water and Sanitation
Water, the source of life, carries death and disease in much of the developing world. One in six people in the world have no access to safe drinking water. With help from Rotary-sponsored water and sanitation projects, Rotarians have helped thousands of communities globally.

Maternal and Child Health
Nine million children under age 5 will die because of malnutrition, poor health care, and inadequate sanitation. With proper services and trained birthing professionals, maternal deaths at childbirth could be reduced by 80 percent. Rotary’s maternal and child health projects help educate mothers, provide health services such as immunizations, and give babies a better start in life.

Basic Education and Literacy
The key to a brighter future is access to basic education and literacy. Yet 75 million children worldwide — 41 million of them girls — have no access to education, and about 677 million people over the age of 15 are illiterate. Rotary volunteers worldwide have led low-cost literacy programs that fund teacher training, start student mentoring programs, and build schools and libraries.

Economic and Community Development
An estimated 878 million people — nearly half of them employed — live on less than $1.25 a day. Rotarians bring economic and community development to impoverished communities through projects that provide vocational training, support local entrepreneurs and community leaders, and assist long-term recovery needs in areas struck by natural disaster.

Rotary Foundation Grants

The Rotary Foundation offers multiple types of grants to serve the wide variety of projects Rotarians are doing around the world.

District grants
District grants fund smaller, short-term activities that address needs in both your local community and communities worldwide. Each district gets to choose which projects it will fund with these grants.

Global Grants
Global Grantssupport large international activities with sustainable, measurable outcomes in one or more of the six areas of focus. The Rotary Foundation accepts global grant applications on a rolling basis throughout the year. Global grants support large international activities with sustainable, measurable outcomes in one or more of the six areas of focus. Global grants must:

  • Be an international partnership between a Rotary club or district in the country where the activity takes place and a Rotary club or district outside of that country
  • Be sustainable and include plans for long-term success after the global grant funds have been spent
  • Include measurable goals that are demonstrated through progress reports
  • Align with one of our six areas of focus
  • Respond to real community needs
  • Include active participation from both Rotarians and community members
  • Have a minimum budget of US$30,000
  • Meet the eligibility requirements in the grants terms and conditions

You can use global grants to fund:
  • Humanitarian projects that support the goals of one or more of the areas of focus
  • Scholarships for graduate-level academic studies that relate to one or more of the areas of focus
  • Vocational training teams, which are groups of professionals traveling abroad either to learn more about their profession or teach local professionals about a particular field
Rotary Foundation
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The Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation supported solely by voluntary contributions from Rotarians and friends of the Foundation who share its vision of a better world.

Contribute now.
End Polio Now
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Polio has declined rapidly since 1985, but the fight isn't over. Rotary raises funds to make sure every child receives access to the polio vaccine.

See the impact your contribution can make.
Donate now.