It all started with the vision of one man, Paul Harris, the founder of the Rotary International (RI) who started with Rotary Club of Chicago on February 23, 1905 which primarily focused on humanitarian services. He even expressed, “Whatever Rotary may mean to us, to the world it will be known by the results it achieves” describing the efforts and causes of Rotary International brought worldwide in making a significant difference in the lives of those in need.
One of the major campaigns that Rotary International has been working on is the “End Polio Now” campaign, mainly focused on eradicating poliomyelitis virus globally.
It all began on September 23, 1979 when volunteers administered the drops of oral polio vaccine into a child at a health center in Guadalupe Viejo, Makati, Philippines. RI President James L. Bojar Jr. ceremonially launched the Philippine poliomyelitis immunization effort by putting the first drops of vaccine into a child’s mouth, a part of the Rotary’s first Health, Hunger and Humanity (3-H) Grant project. With this, RI President Bomar and Philippines Minister of Health, Enrique M. Garcia, signed an agreement for the commitment of the Rotary International to the Philippine Government to do a multiyear joint effort in immunizing about 6 million children against polio at a cost of $760,000. This success has led the RI to make polio eradication a top priority. Rotary launched PolioPlus in 1985 and was a founding member of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative in 1988. Through decades of commitment and work by Rotary and our partners, more than 2.5 billion children have received the oral polio vaccine (The Roots of Rotary’s Polio Eradication Efforts, Rotary History of Rotary International, www.my.rotary.org).
Apart from the End Polio Now campaign, Rotary International established a charity, The Rotary Foundation (TRF), tapping into a global network of Rotarians who invest their time, money and expertise into priorities aligning with our seven areas of focus. Foundation grants empowers and financially equip members to provide sustainable solutions to major problems related to diseases, poverty, illiteracy, and malnutrition in their communities.
TRF was created in 1917 by Arch Klump, the Rotary International’s sixth president. TRF contribution has grown from an initial amount of 26.50 USD from the Rotary Club of Kansas City to more than 1 billion USD. Since then, it provides grants of over 1 million USD per day to support Rotary Clubs’ sustainable and impactful projects. Today, TRF has one of the largest and most prestigious international fellowship programs in the world (An Introduction To & Overview Of The Rotary Foundation by Rotary International District 7030, retrieved from www.rotarydistrict7030.org).
Currently, the Rotary International has extended this century of initiative to the Rotaract Clubs as part of the ‘Elevate Rotaract’ program which started in 2020 through a partnership with Rotary Clubs with ongoing Global Grants projects. Rotaract clubs can also receive funding from district grants through a Rotary club, and Rotaractors can apply for scholarships and Rotary Peace Fellowships through the Foundation (#Elevate Rotaract – FAQs, July 5, 2019, Rotaract News, retrieve from: www.rotaractnews.org/elevate-rotaract-faqs/).
Through these privileges, every Rotaract District has also encouraged Rotaract Clubs to donate to the TRF. Rotaract clubs that collectively contribute 100 USD or more annually to The Rotary Foundation will be eligible for a Rotaract Giving Certificate (Donor Recognition by Rotary International, www.rotary.org/en/donate/recognition).
In its many years of service, Rotary International doesn’t merely leave an indelible mark; it paints a masterpiece of long-lasting impact, reminding us that the true measure of success lies not just in what we have achieved, but rather to the positive difference we make in the lives of others. The Rotary Foundation’s journey from vision to action is not just a chronicle of the past; it is an anthem for the future—a future where compassion and service continue to resonate, creating hope and changes that echoes and inspires the upcoming generations.