Starting with an initial contribution of $26.50 during the 1917 Rotary International (RI) convention, outgoing Rotary president Arch Klumph proposed setting up an endowment “for the purpose of doing good in the world.” Over the next 100 years, The Rotary Foundation (TRF) would spend more than $3 billion on life-changing, sustainable projects. The service projects of RI and its more than 33,000 Rotary clubs and more than 1.2 million Rotarians worldwide have made an impact in saving and improving lives through providing clean water, supporting education, fighting disease and promoting world peace.
Known globally for its pioneering project to eradicate polio from the face of the earth, Rotary International and The Rotary Foundation have reduced the incidence of polio from an estimated 350,000 cases 30 years ago to only 12 reported so far in 2017.
In 2016, noted for its strong financial health and commitment to accountability and transparency, The Rotary Foundation received the highest possible score — 100 points out of 100 — from Charity Navigator, an American, independent charity watchdog organization that evaluates charitable organizations in the United States. It was the ninth straight year TRF earned a four-star rating from the watchdog, a distinction only 1% of charities have attained.
Also in 2016, The Association of Fundraising Professionals named the Foundation the World’s Outstanding Foundation for 2016. Both of the organizations followed the money donated and agreed that donating to The Rotary Foundation is a wise investment.

How It Works
“To ensure that the funds for the projects are there when needed,” said past Rotary International President Ron D. Burton, chair of the Foundation’s Investment Committee, “all contributions to the Foundation’s Annual Fund are invested for three years.”
After three years, the investment earnings on the donated funds go toward the operating expenses of the Foundation while the principal amount goes toward grants, programs and projects. The principal is split 50/50, with half going to the individual districts from whence the funds were donated and half going into the World Fund, a pool that the Trustees of The Rotary Foundation use to match grants where they are most needed.
Six elements of sustainability must be addressed in the design of a global grant project: start with the community, encourage local ownership, provide training, buy local, find local funding and measure success. These elements ensure that the project provides long-term solutions that the community itself can support after the grant ends. Before Rotarians design projects, they must talk to people in the community to understand what the community needs.

Recognizing Noteworthy Grants
To celebrate its 100th year, The Rotary Foundation recognized 20 global grants that exemplify what it believes a project should include: a sustainable endeavor; a project that aligns with one of Rotary’s areas of focus (promoting peace; fighting disease; providing clean water, sanitation and hygiene; saving mothers and children; supporting education; growing local economies; and ending polio forever); and is designed with the community to address a real need. Some of those 20 projects are outlined below.

Equipping a neonatal intensive care unit in Brazil
Area of focus: Saving mothers and children
Host sponsor: Rotary Club of Registro, Brazil
International sponsor: Rotary Club of Nakatsugawa, Japan
Total budget: $172,500
Neonatal mortality rates were significantly higher in the Ribeira Valley area of southern São Paulo state. The Rotarians worked with the Hospital Regional Dr. Leopoldo Bevilacqua in Pariquera-Açu to determine the best approach. The grant provided equipment for the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit and provided prenatal care and breast-feeding workshops for pregnant adolescents.
As a result, infant mortality in the region was halved, to seven per 1,000 live births.

Teaching peaceful problem-solving in Israel
Area of focus: Promoting peace
Host sponsor: Rotary Club of Haifa, Israel
International sponsor: Rotary Club of Coral Springs-Parkland, Fla., USA
Total budget: $161,750
Israel faces challenges with water scarcity and ongoing conflict. This water project has a “hidden” peace component: Water challenges form the basis of a science curriculum that helps schoolchildren from different backgrounds in Haifa find solutions peacefully and creatively.
Students from 10 schools worked together to present 38 science projects focused on water and sanitation. One project involving students from three schools won first prize in a national competition. Schools also participated in 15 cross-cultural activities.

Bringing clean water to public schools in Lebanon
Area of focus: Providing clean water
Host sponsor: Rotary Club of Baabda, Lebanon
International sponsor: Rotary Club of Kernersville, N.C., USA
Total budget: $43,550
Municipal water supplies in Lebanon are often tainted because of deteriorating infrastructure. Many public schools collect rainwater in rusty tanks, leading to contamination and illness. The influx of refugees from Syria has made schools even more crowded. This grant supplied new water tanks, pipes, filters and faucets to 19 schools; it also provided hygiene training.
Now, 6,743 children have access to clean water, and the project is being replicated throughout the country. Rotarians in Lebanon aim to bring clean water to every public school — more than 1,000.

Providing safe water for rural communities in Peru
Area of focus: Providing clean water
Host sponsor: Rotary Club of Cajamarca Layzón, Peru
International sponsor: District 2201 (Spain)
Total budget: $258,195
Before the project, residents drank untreated spring water, and the rate of intestinal and respiratory diseases, especially among infants and the elderly, was high. The project repaired 32 reservoirs and installed gravity-fed drip chlorination systems for drinking water, and trained residents to administer and maintain the system.
More than 10,000 people now have clean drinking water. The Rotary Club of Cajamarca Layzón has only 11 members.

Improving literacy in Guatemala
Area of focus: Supporting education
Host sponsor: Rotary Club of Guatemala Vista Hermosa, Guatemala
International sponsor: Rotary Club of Summit County (Frisco), Colo., USA
Total budget: $339,191
The Guatemala Literacy Project is a 20-year partnership between Rotary clubs and districts and the nonprofit Cooperative for Education. This global grant provided textbooks, computer labs, teacher training and scholarships to impoverished schools. The sustainable model requires families to pay a fee to rent the donated textbooks; schools use the money to buy new books when the old ones wear out.
This grant served 5,880 students and trained 337 teachers. First-graders in the program scored 71% higher than the national average in letter naming.

Providing equipment for indigenous farmers in Paraguay
Area of focus: Growing local economies
Host sponsor: Rotary Club of Asunción, Paraguay
International sponsor: Rotary Club of Flensburg, Germany
Total budget: $52,500
Indigenous residents of the village of El Paraiso, 300 miles north of the capital, Asunción, relied on subsistence farming. The Rotarians provided agricultural equipment — a tractor, plow and harrow — and worked with an organization that provides vocational training to the village chiefs and makes regular visits to the village to monitor progress.
Two weeks after the launch of the project, the villagers planted 500 acres of sesame.

Fighting cervical cancer in rural Bangladesh
Area of focus: Fighting disease
Host sponsor: Rotary Club of Padma Rajshahi, Bangladesh
International sponsor: Rotary Club of North Columbus, Ga., USA
Total budget: $59,500
Bangladesh ranks fourth in the world in deaths from cervical cancer. Project sponsors worked with the Rajshahi Cancer Hospital and Research Center to reduce the incidence of cervical cancer through vaccinations, and worked to raise awareness about symptoms and funded training for female paramedics in 10 villages around Rajshahi.
Nearly 1,000 girls and women ages 9 to 45 participated in the program.

Bridging the health care gap in Mongolia with smartphones
Area of focus: Fighting disease
Host sponsor: Rotary Club of Khuree, Mongolia
International sponsor: Rotary Club of Cheonan-Dosol, Korea
Total budget: $50,000
More than 300 villages in Mongolia are so remote that access to advanced health services is limited. Doctors in 55 villages received smartphones and training in a tele-dermatology system through a user-friendly app. The app was developed in Mongolia.

Fighting dengue fever in Indonesia
Area of focus: Fighting disease
Host sponsor: Rotary Club of Solo Kartini, Indonesia
International sponsor: Rotary Club of Westport, Conn., USA
Total budget: $70,725
Dengue fever is the fastest-spreading tropical disease and a pandemic threat, according to the World Health Organization. The project aimed to interrupt the life cycle of the mosquito that carries dengue in parts of Surakarta by eliminating a common breeding site. The sponsors tiled the cement bathtubs that are common in Indonesian homes with white ceramic tiles, which make mosquito larvae more visible, and trained residents to check for the larvae and to empty, scrub, and cover their tubs to prevent infestation. Community social workers followed up weekly.
The Rotarians tiled 3,500 tubs. The government is now interested in taking up the project. The host club’s members are all women.

To make a donation to The Rotary Foundation, contact one of the local Rotary clubs listed on page 22 or go to