The Rotary Foundation

A Brief History of the Rotary Foundation


The mission of The Rotary Foundation is to enable Rotarians to advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through the improvement of health, the support of education, and the alleviation of poverty.

The Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation supported solely by voluntary contributions from Rotarians and friends of the Foundation who share its vision of a better world.


In1917, the outgoing RI President Arch C. Klumph proposed to set up an endowment for the purpose of doing good in the world. In 1928, it was renamed The Rotary Foundation, and it became a distinct entity within Rotary International.


In 1929, the Foundation made its first gift of $500 to the International Society for Crippled Children. The organization, created by Rotarian Edgar F. Daddy Allen, later grew into Easter Seals.

After Rotary founder Paul Harris died in 1947, contributions began pouring in to Rotary International. The Paul Harris Memorial Fund was created to help build the Foundation.


1947: The Foundation established its first program, Fellowships for Advance Study, later known as Ambassadorial Scholarships.

1965-66: Three programs were launched:

      Group Study Exchange,

      Awards for Technical Training,

      Grants for Activities in Keeping with the Objective of The Rotary Foundation, later called Matching Grants.

1978: Rotary introduced the Health, Hunger and Humanity (3-H) Grants. The first 3-H Grant funded a project to immunize 6 million Philippine children against polio.

1985: One of the most important programs was launched. This was the PolioPlus.The program was launched to eradicate polio worldwide and continues to this day. The founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates together with his wife Mellissa Gates, through their charity the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have generously donated funds to this cause for a number of years.(Please see our separate page concerning the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and his contributions)

1987-88: The first peace forums were held, leading to Rotary Peace Fellowships.

2013: New district, global, and packaged grants enable Rotarians around the world to respond to the world's greatest needs.

Since the first donation of $26.50 in 1917, the Foundation has received contributions totaling more than $1 billion.

For more information concerning Rotary Foundation please do not hesitate to contact our Club's Foundation Committee Chairman Dr. Seye Lokulo-Sodipe by email at or our Club President Joe Burchell at