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The Rotary Foundation

About The Rotary Foundation

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 Rotary Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation that is supported solely by voluntary contributions from Rotarians and friends of the Foundation who share its vision of a better world.

The Foundation was created in 1917 by Rotary International's sixth president, Arch C. Klumph, as an endowment fund for Rotary "to do good in the world." Upon the death of Paul Harris in 1947, an outpouring of Rotarian donations made in his honor, totaling US$2 million, launched the Foundation's first program — graduate fellowships, now called Ambassadorial Scholarships. It has grown from an initial contribution of US$26.50 to more than US$117.9 million contributed in 2004-05. Its event-filled history is a story of Rotarians learning the value of service to humanity.

Today, contributions to The Rotary Foundation total more than US$80 million annually and support a wide range of humanitarian grants and educational programs that enable Rotarians to bring hope and promote international understanding throughout the world.

Foundation's Humanitarian Programs

The Foundation's Humanitarian Programs fund international Rotary club and district projects to improve the quality of life, providing health care, clean water, food, education, and other essential needs primarily in the developing world. One of the major Humanitarian Programs is PolioPlus, which seeks to eradicate the poliovirus worldwide. Through its Educational Programs, the Foundation provides funding for some 1,200 students to study abroad each year. Grants are also awarded to university teachers to teach in developing countries and for exchanges of business and professional people. Former participants in the Foundation's programs have the opportunity to continue their affiliation with Rotary as Foundation Alumni.

Recognizing Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation

What do the National Council for International Health, the International Public Relations Association, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the World Food Programme all have in common? Each of these organizations has recognized Rotary International and its Foundation for their work in polio eradication.

Since launching the Polio Plus program in 1985, Rotary has garnered attention worldwide for its groundbreaking effort to rid the world of polio. Rotary has been officially recognized by organizations and governments on nearly 60 different occasions. This is something about which each of us can be extremely proud.

For example, in 1996, the National Council for International Health presented one of its four annual Leadership in Global Health awards to Rotary in recognition of PolioPlus. The NCIH president hailed Rotary's "outstanding leadership and progress toward the eradication of polio" as a model for private-sector support of international health.

In 2000, the International Public Relations Association presented Rotary with its President's Award, which recognizes individuals or institutions that have used mass communication to promote the principles of peace, social justice, or cultural understanding.

In 2002, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation named The Rotary Foundation as recipient of the Gates Award for Global Health. The award, which includes a US$1 million prize, recognized Rotary's leadership and impact in the field of public health, most notably for our top priority of eradicating polio.

In 2004, the American Academy of Pediatrics recognized Rotary's polio eradication efforts with its Excellence in Public Service Award. And in 2006, the World Food Programme presented Rotary with its Award for Exemplary Humanitarian Leadership for helping to give more than two billion children a life free from polio.

Countries all over the world also have thanked us for our efforts on behalf of their children.
In 1987, Peru honored Rotary with the Daniel Alcides Carrion Award, the country's highest honor in the field of health and medicine, for its support of Peru's Expanded Program on Immunization.

In 1994, the Philippines recognized The Rotary Foundation for its participation in the National Immunization Days of 1993, which reached 9.6 million children under the age of five. In 1996, Angola

honored Rotary for supporting its first NIDs, held despite the civil strife that racked the country — an amazing achievement.

Rotary's spearheading partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative — the World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — also have recognized us on many occasions throughout the years.

Rotary truly has been a pioneer in the field of global public health, particularly polio eradication. The success of the public-private partnership forged with WHO, UNICEF, and the CDC has served as a model for more recent global health initiatives, such as the measles campaign.

Those working on initiatives to alleviate poverty and improve health, such as the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, look to Rotary as a model for engaging civic organizations. At the annual Rotary-UN Day in November, I was often reminded of the extraordinary role our organization has played in providing the vision for a better and more peaceful world for everyone.

If you ever think that Rotary is not recognized for its work, I encourage you to review the full list of awards and recognitions Rotary has received for its polio eradication efforts.

History of The Rotary Foundation


Arch C. Klumph

In 1917, Arch C. Klumph, Rotary's sixth president, proposed to the Rotary International Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, the creation of an "endowment fund for Rotary . . . for the purpose of doing good in the world in charitable, educational, and other avenues of community service." A few months later, the endowment received its first contribution of $26.50 from the Rotary Club of Kansas City, Missouri, USA.

In 1928, when the endowment fund had grown to more than US$5,000, the fund 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 US$500 to the International Society for Crippled Children. The ISCC — created by Rotarian Edgar F. "Daddy" Allen — later grew into the Easter Seals organization.

The Great Depression and World War II both impeded significant growth for the Foundation, but the need for promoting a lasting world peace generated great post-war interest in developing the Foundation. After Rotary founder Paul P. Harris died in 1947, contributions began pouring into Rotary International, and the Paul Harris Memorial Fund was created for the purpose of building the Foundation.

That same year, the first Foundation program — the forerunner of the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarships program — was established. Then 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) program was launched in 1978, with the Rotary Volunteers program being created as a part of 3-H in 1980. The PolioPlus program was announced in 1984-85, and the following year saw the introduction of Rotary Grants for University Teachers. The first Peace Forums were held in 1987-88, leading to the establishment of Rotary Peace Programs. Then in 1989, 1963-64 RI President Carl P. Miller and his wife, Ruth, donated US$1 million to establish the Discovery Grants program.

Throughout this time, support of the Foundation grew tremendously. Since that first $26.50 donation in 1917, the Foundation has received contributions totaling more than US$1 billion. More than US$70 million was contributed in 2003-04 alone. To date, some 914,792 individuals have been recognized as Paul Harris Fellows — that is, someone who has contributed US$1000 or has had that amount contributed in his or her name.

Such strong support and involvement of Rotarians worldwide ensures a secure future for The Rotary Foundation as it continues its vital work for international understanding and world peace.