Rotary Foundation

Rotarians partner together on National Immunization Day in Moradabad, India. Photo by Rotary Images.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.

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.

Programs of The Rotary Foundation

Through Foundation grants and programs, Rotarians and other contributors can help change the world. They can finance a well for a village that lacks clean water, improve the environment, or provide scholarships to educate the next generation. The grants and programs available to Rotarians allow them to realize Rotary’s humanitarian mission throughout the world, including its number-one goal of eradicating polio.

Polio Plus

PolioPlus, the most ambitious program in Rotary’s history, is the volunteer arm of the global partnership dedicated to eradicating polio. For more than 20 years, Rotary has led the private sector in the global effort to rid the world of this crippling disease. Today, PolioPlus and its role in the initiative is recognized worldwide as a model of public-private cooperation in pursuit of a humanitarian goal.

To eradicate polio, Rotarians have mobilized by the hundreds of thousands. They’re working to ensure that children are immunized against this crippling disease and that surveillance is strong despite the poor infrastructure, extreme poverty, and civil strife of many countries. Since the PolioPlus program’s inception in 1985, more than two billion children have received the oral polio vaccine. Rotary's US$200 Million Challenge is the Rotary Foundation's response to the two grants totaling $355 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help eradicate polio. Every dollar given to PolioPlus will be counted toward the $200 million match, which must be completed by 30 June 2012.

Humanitarian Grants Program

Disaster Recovery - The program was created in 2005-06, and the Foundation currently administers four Disaster Recovery accounts: Hurricanes Stan and Wilma (Guatemala and Mexico), Hurricane Wilma (United States), the Earthquake in India and Pakistan, and Solidarity in South Asia. Total contributions to the accounts were $6.4 million. District Simplified Grants - District Simplified Grants are a tool for Rotary districts to support short-term humanitarian projects that benefit the community. Districts can request up to 20 percent of their District Designated Fund (DDF) for a grant to support multiple projects locally or internationally. Matching Grants - Through Matching Grants, The Rotary Foundation matches contributions raised for international service projects by Rotary clubs and districts in two or more countries. The Foundation provides a one-to-one match for District Designated Fund (DDF)/SHARE contributions and a US$0.50 match for every new $1 cash contribution. Grant awards range from $5,000 to $200,000.

Educational Programs

Ambassadorial Scholarships - The Rotary Foundation's oldest and best-known program, was founded in 1947. Since then, more than 40,000 men and women from about 100 nations have studied abroad under its auspices. Today it is one of the world's largest privately funded international scholarships programs. Nearly 700 scholarships were awarded for study in 2009-10. Through grants totaling approximately US$16.2 million, recipients from about 70 countries studied in more than 80 nations. Group Study Exchange - This program is a unique cultural and vocational exchange opportunity for businesspeople and professionals between the ages of 25 and 40 who are in the early stages of their careers. The program provides travel grants for teams to exchange visits in paired areas of different countries. For four to six weeks, team members experience the host country's culture and institutions, observe how their vocations are practiced abroad, develop personal and professional relationships, and exchange ideas. 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.