PDG Marion Stark, the District 7255 Rotary Foundation Chair, gave a talk about The Rotary Foundation at our regular meeting on Wednesday, November 1st.
She began by defining the origin and function of The Rotary Foundation.
Starting in 1917 with a $26.50 donation, Rotary began accepting endowments for the purpose of doing good in the world in charitable, educational, and other avenues of community service. Accomplishments were modest until donations to the Foundation started pouring in immediately following the 1947 death of Rotary founder Paul Harris.
Today, The Rotary Foundation is the charitable arm of Rotary that helps fund Rotary’s humanitarian activities, from local service projects to global initiatives. The Foundation also takes the lead on worldwide Rotary campaigns such as eradicating polio and promoting peace. Rotarians and friends of Rotary support the Foundation’s work through voluntary contributions. Due to the hard work and generosity of Rotarians worldwide, The Rotary Foundation has improved the lives of millions of people for nearly 100 years.
The Rotary Foundation also offers district and global grants that any Rotary club or district can apply for to support a wide variety of projects, scholarships, and training.
Global Grants fund large international humanitarian projects, vocational training teams, and scholarships that have sustainable, measurable outcomes in one or more of Rotary International’s Areas of Focus. A key feature of global grants is partnership - grants are sponsored by at least one Rotary club or district in the country where the project will take place, and one or more outside that country.
District Grants are block grants that allow clubs and districts to address immediate needs, generally small-scale, short-term projects, in their communities and abroad. Each district chooses which activities it will fund with these grants.
Marion gave several examples of global and district grants, explaining how project funding can be magnified through district and Rotary International matching, emphasizing the economic and social impact of Rotary projects in depressed communities throughout the world.
She also discussed Polio Plus, Rotary’s premier humanitarian program for over three decades - a multi-billion dollar, multi-agency effort to eradicate polio worldwide.
Since 1988, when Rotary began working with its partners in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative to immunize more than 2 billion children, the incidence of polio has decreased 99 percent.  Today, there are only a dozen cases in three countries. Total eradication has proven to be an elusive goal however, with many unforeseen challenges. Since victory cannot be declared until there are no new cases for three years, the effort has become even more intense, with the Gates Foundation now joined in the fight with substantial additional funding.
Marion concluded by describing the Rotary Peace Scholarships, fully funded academic fellowships to pursue a Professional Development Certificate or Masters Degree Program, related to peace and conflict resolution and prevention at one of five peace centers around the world.
Marion is shown above with Babylon Rotary President Frank Seibert.