Rotary International
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Foundation Guide - The Rotary Foundation


The Rotary Foundation hopes to improve lives by building global relationships. The foundation’s goal is to create a better, more peaceful world for all and specifically to put an end to polio forever.

The Rotary Foundation is a global network. The foundation has satellite headquarters in New Delhi, India as well as in Parramatta, Australia. Projects are undertaken by over 35,000 clubs across the world in regions throughout Asia, North America, Central and South America, Australia, and the rest of the Pacific.

Supported Causes

The foundation is dedicated to six main areas of focus:

  • Promoting peace
  • Fighting disease
  • Ensuring clean water, hygiene, and sanitation
  • Saving children and their mothers
  • Promoting literacy and education
  • Enhancing local economies
  • Eradicating polio

Over USD 86 million has been allocated to a range of initiatives including:


Programs include:

  •  Rotary Peace Fellowships – Every year, 100 professionals from across the globe are selected to receive academic fellowships at Rotary Peace Centers.
  • Rotary Community Corps – Uniting foundation members with non-members in communities to work together to tackle challenges within the community.
  • Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) – A leadership development program geared for young people. The goal is to help them learn new skills and build confidence.
  • Rotary Youth Exchange – By facilitating exchange students, one young person at a time can help build peace across nations by learning new languages and discovering other cultures.
  • New Generations Service Exchange – A short-term customizable program aimed at helping university students and young professionals to design exchanges that link their professional goals to humanitarian projects.

The Foundation's History

The Rotary Foundation was founded by Chicago attorney Paul Harris in February 1905. His idea was to bring professionals from various backgrounds together so that they could exchange ideas and collaborate to give back to communities in need. The first donation to the Rotary Foundation in 1917 was USD 26.50. In 1930, the Rotary Foundation made its first official gift of USD 500 to the International Society for Crippled Children. Within 16 years of its founding, the organization established clubs across six continents. During World War II, clubs in Germany, Japan, Austria, Spain, and Italy were forced to break up. However, despite the risks, some clubs continued to meet informally and keep the dream alive until they could begin to rebuild after the end of the war. In 1979, the Rotary Foundation began fighting polio by launching a project to immunize six million Philippine children.