District Foundation Chair Addresses Rotary Club
by Bob Augustin Jr.
Rufus Clifford, Rotary District 6760 Foundation Chairman, presented the program on Rotary International Foundation at the club's November 20, 2009 meeting. Bill Phillips, Lawrenceburg Rotary Club Foundation Chairman, introduced Clifford and gave the background on Rotary International Foundation. Phillips reminded the club of the Four Avenues of Service in Rotary: club service, vocational service, community service and international service. All Rotarians are familiar with the first three because they are involved with them on a daily basis. Most Rotarians are less familiar with international service which is the dominion of the Rotary Foundation.
Clifford then presented a brief history of the Rotary Foundation and its function in Rotary International. In 1917, Rotary International President Arch Klumph purposed the establisment of an endowment designed to "for the purpose of doing good in the world." The first donation to the new endowment fund was $26.50, From these humble beginnings, the endowment evolved into the Rotary Foundation, a non-profit corporation supported solely by voluntary contributions, to date over $1 billion, from Rotarians and friends of Rotary.
The Rotary Foundation is a distinct entity within Rotary International and acts as the functional branch of Rotary. Whereas Rotary International is the administrative branch of Rotary International, the Foundation is both the fund-raising branch and fund-distribution branch of Rotary International. The Foundation distributes over $100 million annually to projects around the world. Projects funded by the Foundation include bringing electricity to homes in Honduras, drilling wells in Africa, bringing basic literacy skills to children in Latin America and thousands more.
The Foundation's most visible project is the PolioPlus program. In 1985, Rotary embarked on a mission to eradicate Polio from the world. There were 906,000 new cases of polio in the world annually in 1985. In 2007, there were less than 1,000 new cases annually and Polio had been banished from everywhere in the world except Afganistan, Pakistan, northern India and Nigeria. The Foundation has committed over $620 million to date to PolioPlus. In 2007, the Bill Gates Foundation awarded the Rotary Foundation a matching grant of $100 million to continue the fight to eradicate Polio.
Another Foundation program that is more familiar is the Group Study Exchange (GSE) program. The GSE program is a unique cultural and vocational exchange opportunity for business and professional people. Rotary Districts in two different countries exchange teams comprised of non-Rotarian business professionals between the ages of 25 and 40 and a Rotarian team leader. For four to six weeks, team members experience the host country's culture and institutions, observe how their vocations are practiced abroad, develop personal and professional relationships, and exchange ideas. Rotary District 6760, to which the Lawrenceburg Rotary Club belongs, has participated in GSE exchanges with Japan, Argentina, Brazil, Sweden, Australia, England, India and many more.
Clifford explained that the Foundation provides matching grant programs to Rotary Clubs to assist in their projects around the world. The Lawrenceburg Rotary Club received matching grants from the Foundation for its projects in Honduras. For more information about the Lawrencburg Rotary Club's Honduran project, click here .
For more information on the Rotary Foundation, go to RI's web site at www.rotary.org .
Pictured above are Bill Phillips and Rufus Clifford.