The Rotary Foundation

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 AT THE 1917 convention in Atlanta, Arch C. Klumph, then Rotary President, proposed setting up an endowment "for the purpose of doing good in the world."  The Rotary Club of Kansas City, MO., made the first contribution - $26.50.  In 1928, after the endowment fund had grown to more the $5,000, it was renamed The Rotary Foundation.


IN 1929, the Foundation made it's first grant - $500 to the International Society for Crippled Children, as requested by Rotary founder Paul P. Harris.


SHORTLY BEFORE Harris' death in 1947, the RI Board authorized a campaign to raise $2 million for the Foundation.  When Harris died, contributions began pouring in, and the fundraising drive became a memorial to him.  In the 16 months after his death, Rotarians donated $1,317,194 to the Paul Harris Memorial Fund.  Part of the money went towards the first 18 Rotary Foundation Fellowships for Advanced Study - precursor of today's Ambassadorial Scholarships.


THE MAY 1957 issue of the Rotarian announced that people who donated $1,000 or more to the Foundation would earn Paul Harris Fellow recognition.  In 2007, the Foundation celebrated the millionth Paul Harris Fellow by recognizing 34 individuals, one from each Rotary zone.  Notable Paul Harris Fellows include former US President Jimmy Carter, Russian President Boris Yeltsin, United Nations Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar, US astronaut James Lovell, and Jonas Salk, developer of the first polio vaccine.  All were honored with donations in their names.


THE FOUNDATION launched Group Study Exchange in 1965-66.  Since then, more than 70,000 people have traveled the globe as part of the program.


ALSO IN 1965-66, the Foundation began awarding what came to be called Matching Grants, to support international service projects.  More than $430 million has been awarded.


The first Health Hunger and Humanity Grant funded a project to immunize six million children in the Philippines against polio.  In 1979, RI President James L. Bomar Jr. administrated the first drops of vaccine, setting the stage for Rotary's decades-long commitment to polio eradication.


ROTARY held it's first peace forums in 1987-88, leading to the Foundation's peace and conflict studies program.  The Rotary Centers for International Studies in peace and conflict resolution opened in 2002.  Since then, 591 fellows have graduated.


ONE HUNDRED districts are participating in the three-year pilot of the new grant structure under the Future Vision Plan.


FROM IT'S START through June 2010, the Foundation had received contributions totaling more than $2.6 billion.