To a young set of parents in Afghanistan, it was a life-saving immunization for their five-month-old son. To a woman with seven children in Malaysia, it was a loan to start a sewing business that enabled her to feed her children. To North Koreans, it was an ambulance that equipped a hospital to be able to take care of them. To thousands of college students in almost every country on earth, it was the chance to study abroad, with all expenses paid, and learn their educational specialty up close and personal.
Ask anyone who has been touched by The Rotary Foundation what it is and every answer will be different. Ask anyone who has been touched by The Rotary Foundation just how important it is, and every answer will be identical.
The Rotary Foundation was born as an endowment fund in 1917, the brainchild of RI President Arch C. Klumph. It was reborn 12 years later in the form we know today, The Rotary Foundation of Rotary international. However, it wouldn’t be until after the passing of Paul P. Harris in 1947 that TRF would reach the financial health and world importance that it enjoys today.
Technically speaking, it is a not-for-profit corporation that supports the efforts of Rotary International to achieve world understanding and peace through international humanitarian, educational, and cultural exchange programs. It is supported solely by voluntary contributions from Rotarians and friends of the Foundation who share its vision of a better world.
Its expenses are born solely by the interest earned on its contributions over a three year period.
As an endowment fund for Rotary “to do good in the world,” its initial contribution was US$26.50 in 1918. When it became The Rotary Foundation in 1928, it had a value of US$5,739.07. In the most recent year that we have complete figures, the Foundation had more than US$73 million contributed in 2000-01. But, that’s not what The Rotary Foundation is all about. Its event-filled 85 years has been a story of Rotarians learning the value of service to humanity, and the citizens of the earth benefiting from that service.
The Humanitarian Programs of the foundation help fuel international Rotary projects to improve the quality of life, providing health care, clean water, food, education, and other essential needs primarily in the developing world.
A major Humanitarian Program is PolioPlus, which seeks to eradicate the polio virus worldwide by Rotary’s 100th birthday in 2005. 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. Even its former participants in the Foundation’s programs can continue their affiliation with Rotary as Foundation Alumni.
More information about this important aspect of Rotary can be found at www.FoundationHistory.org