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The Rotary Foundation - "Doing Good in the World"

Rotary International's Area of Focus for November is The Rotary Foundation. The Foundation’s Mission is to promote world understanding, goodwill, and peace by improving people's health, supporting quality education, protecting the environment, and alleviating poverty.

In 1917, at the Rotary Convention in Atlanta, Georgia USA, Rotary President (1916-1917) Arch Kumph proposed an endowment fund dedicated to “doing good in the world”. The Rotary Club of Kansas City, Missouri USA made the first contribution to the Rotary Foundation in the amount of $26.50 (which adjusted for inflation would be $566 today).

In 1928, at the Rotary Convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota USA, the Rotary Foundation was named and a Board of Trustees was created. Until this time the RI Board of Directors had oversight of the funds.

In 1930, The Rotary Foundation awarded $500 to the International Society of Crippled Children, which later became known as Easter Seals. (The International Society of Crippled Children was founded by Rotarian Edgar Allen, who worked closely with Paul Harris and other Rotarians to aid children with disabilities.) (500 USD adjusted for inflation is equivalent to $8,2000 today)

In 1957, Paul Harris Fellow (PHF) recognition began – the first form of donor recognition, expressing appreciation of eligible contributions of $1000. (CMIRC presently has 12 Paul Harris Fellows as members)

In 1979, Rotary International with Foundation funding began immunizing 6 million children in the Philippines against polio.

In 1981, The Foundation established the Endowment Fund, specifically for investing certain contributions in perpetuity, with the earnings going to support the Foundation's future ability to do good.

In 1985, The Polio Plus program was launched; the “plus” initially referred to the additional vaccines administered along with the polio vaccine. Today, it also reflects the fact that the infrastructure, fundraising, and advocacy methods developed for the polio eradication campaign also support efforts to fight other infectious diseases.

In 1988, The Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), originally composed of Rotary, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and UNICEF, was created to coordinate polio eradication work. Later it was joined by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

In 1990, The Foundation established SHARE a way to allocate a portion of Annual Fund contributions to districts so they can fund the Foundation programs of their choice.

In 1999, Rotary Peace Centers were founded.

In 2004, the Every Rotarian Every Year (EREY) initiative was created. The initiative encourages every Rotary member to give every year to the Foundation, with the goal of $100 in per capita contributions to the Annual Fund. CMIRC participates in this program, with $50 of each member's dues being contributed, plus additional member donations bringing the club to its goal of $100 per capita every year since receiving our Rotary Club charter.

In 2013, The Simplified Grant Model went into effect, introducing two new grant types: global and district which replaced older grant structure.

In 2015, the number of polio endemic countries dropped to two.

July 1, 2016, The Rotary Foundation began the celebration of its centennial year! At this milestone year The Rotary Foundation had spent over 3 billion dollars on programs and projects to support humanitarian efforts and scholarships.

In 2020, The Rotary Foundation created Programs of Scale Grants. The first grant was a six million dollars to Partners for a Malaria-Free Zambia. The funding was equally split between The Rotary Foundation, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and World Vision U.S.

In 2021, Rotary’s Seven Areas of Focus: Peace and conflict prevention/resolution; Disease prevention and treatment; Water and sanitation; Maternal and child health; Basic education and literacy; Economic and community development; and The Environment.

As a global organization that operates in nearly every country, Rotary takes stewardship of its funds seriously. The Foundation has received a four-star rating (highest rating) from Charity Navigator for the last thirteen years.

Donating to support the Rotary Foundation’s “Doing Good in the World” is easy. Just visit and follow the donation instructions.


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