RI Foundation: Centennial Celebration Continues
The celebration of the Rotary International Foundation is not over. There may be a tendency for forget about his after our Foundation Dinner in October. However, the celebration will culminate at the Rotary International Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, in June 2017.
The program’s criteria have changed a few times during its seven decades, and so has its name — the students have been called Paul Harris Fellows, Ambassadorial Scholars, and Rotary Scholars. But the concept of sending promising students abroad for graduate study remains the same. Today, Rotary Scholars pursuing graduate degrees receive Foundation support through global grants and district grants, and Rotary Peace Fellows study at six Rotary Peace Centers.
In 1963-64, RI President Carl Miller focused on reducing the tensions of the Cold War by bringing people of different cultures and beliefs together. In 1964, the Trustees approved the Special Grants program, later called Matching Grants, which provided funding for clubs and districts to undertake projects that furthered international understanding. Members in two countries often worked together on humanitarian projects, and eventually this became a program requirement.
Over the course of the program, the Foundation awarded more than 37,000 Matching Grants worth well over $500 million in more than 200 countries. The projects addressed a wide range of needs, providing everything from technical training to literacy programs to clean water. For example, Rotarians from Korea and Mongolia used Matching Grants to support a multiyear project called Keep Mongolia Green. This massive reforestation effort in the Gobi Desert is reducing the effects of sandstorms that cause health and environmental damage as far away as Korea and China.
In the late 1970s, Rotary leaders began looking for a way to inspire large international projects to mark Rotary International’s 75th anniversary in 1980. In 1978, the Foundation created the Health, Hunger, and Humanity (3-H) program. In 1979, its first grant gave $760,000 to a multiyear project to immunize six million children in the Philippines against polio. 
In the mid-1980s, Rotary began a three-year fundraising campaign focused on educating club members about the need to eradicate polio and the many benefits of a polio-free world. Rotary leaders met with other nongovernmental organizations and government officials to convince them of the feasibility of their goal and gain their support. The campaign raised $247 million, more than double the goal. At that time, 350,000 children were afflicted by polio every year. Today, that number has been reduced by 99.9 percent, and polio is endemic in only two countries — Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Over the years, others have joined the effort, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and governments throughout the world. Rotary continued its fundraising efforts and as of 2015 had contributed more than $1.5 billion to the eradication effort. In addition, Rotary’s advocacy has resulted in contributions of over $9 billion from world governments.
Literacy was another major focus of 3-H grants. Australian Rotarian Richard Walker developed a literacy training method called Concentrated Language Encounter (CLE) and used a grant to start a literacy program in Thailand. The program proved so successful that it was replicated in Brazil (shown here at left) and South Africa (shown at right), among other countries.
In addition to fighting disease and supporting education, 3-H grants:
  •  Supplied food and milk to orphanages and hospitals in Romania
  •  Provided sewing machines and training to women in Uganda, so that they could support themselves and their families
  •  Built wells and sanitation systems in India, Bolivia, and many other parts of the world
District grants fund small-scale, short-term activities that address needs in local communities and communities abroad. Each district chooses which activities it will fund with these grants. District grants can fund many kinds of district and club efforts, including: 
  •  Humanitarian projects, including service travel and disaster recovery efforts
  •  Scholarships for any level, length of time, location, or area of study
  •  Vocational training teams
As you can see, your generous gift to the Rotary International Foundation has made a significant difference in the world. There are number of opportunities for contributing to the Foundation.  Use this link to learn about them: https://www.rotary.org/en/give