What would it take to change the world? Rotary International is the world’s first service club organization, with more than 1.2 million members in 33,000 clubs worldwide. Rotary club members are volunteers who work locally, regionally, and internationally to combat hunger, improve health and sanitation, provide education and job training, promote peace, and eradicate polio under the motto Service Above Self.
Rotary International is a volunteer organization of business and professional leaders who provide humanitarian service, and help to build goodwill and peace in the world. Founded in Chicago in 1905, Rotary celebrated 100 years of service in 2005. During the past 60 years, The Rotary Foundation has awarded more than US$1.1 billion in humanitarian and educational grants, which are administered at the local level.
What is the purpose of Rotary?
Rotary clubs exist to improve communities locally and around the world. Rotary also encourages high ethical standards in business and professions. Rotary clubs work to advance international understanding by partnering with clubs in other countries.
What do Rotary clubs do?
Rotary clubs address critical issues in communities worldwide. Examples of Rotary’s focus areas include the following:
Polio eradication — In 1985, Rotary’s members vowed to make the world free of the crippling disease polio. This commitment to end polio represents the largest private-sector support of a global health initiative to date. Rotary has already committed US $600 million and countless hours of volunteer work to help immunize nearly 2 billion children throughout the world. Fewer than 2,000 new polio cases were reported worldwide in 2005, a 99 percent reduction since 1988, when polio paralyzed more than 350,000 children a year. Rotary is a spearheading partner — along with UNICEF, WHO, and the CDC — in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
International education — Rotary is the world’s largest privately funded source of international scholarships. Each year, about 1,000 university students receive Rotary scholarships to study abroad. Rotary clubs also coordinate a high school-age student exchange program that sends nearly 8,000 students abroad for three months to a year.
Peace — In an effort to educate current and future peacemakers and ambassadors, Rotary administers two peace-related educational programs. The Rotary Centers for International Studies provides master’s level education in conflict resolution at eight prestigious universities worldwide to groups of 60 Rotary World Peace Fellows chosen annually. The Rotary Peace and Conflict Studies Program provides professional development training for up to 30 professionals chosen biannually from a wide variety of industries and professions.
Humanitarian projects — Rotary clubs initiate thousands of humanitarian projects every year. Rotary addresses problems that create instability and trigger conflicts — hunger, poverty, poor health, and illiteracy.
Literacy — Rotary clubs are engaged in the fight against illiteracy worldwide. One example is a program in Thailand that dramatically reduced school failure and was adopted by the Thai government for all the nation’s schools.
Water management — Recognizing the importance of clean water, many Rotary clubs help to install wells and develop water treatment and distribution systems to increase access to fresh drinking water for communities in need, especially in developing countries.