The Rotary Foundation



On Thursday evening, 23 February 1905 in Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A., three friends met with attorney Paul P. Harris, to discuss the formation of what would become the first Rotary club. He had given this much thought by the time he and Silvester Schiele walked over to Gus Loehr's office, in Room 711 that cold winter night in 1905, almost 9 years from his arrival in Chicago.  Several weeks later, Schiele was elected the first president of Rotary when the meeting was held in his office. Harris suggested several names, one of them being "Rotary."


Arch C. Klumph, Rotary's sixth president, proposed to the Rotary International Convention inAtlanta, Georgia, USA, the creation of an "endowment fund for Rotary . . . for the purpose of doing good in the world in charitable, educational, and other avenues of community service."

In July, the endowment received its first contribution of $26.50 from the Rotary Club of Kansas City, Missouri, USA, which represented the net proceeds from the 1918 International Convention.
The International Association of Rotary Clubs is shortened to Rotary International.
The first attempt to convert the Endowment Fund to The Rotary Foundation, led by RI President Harry H. Rogers at theOstend convention was defeated.

The endowment fund had grown to $US5,739.07, and it was renamed The Rotary Foundation. It became a distinct entity within Rotary International. Five Trustees, including Klumph, were appointed to "hold, invest, manage, and administer all of its property. . . as a single trust, for the furtherance of the purposes of RI."



The Foundation made its first grant of US $500 to the International Society for Crippled Children, created by Rotarian Edgar F. "Daddy" Allen, which grew into the Easter Seals organization.


Forty-nine Rotarians help draft the United Nations Charter in San Francisco. Many of the delegates from around the world were also members of Rotary clubs.


27 January: After a many years of ill health, Rotary founder Paul Harris passed away. Harris was prominent in other civic and professional work. He served as the first chairman of the board of the National Easter Seal Society of Crippled Children and Adults in the USA and of the International Society for Crippled Children.


The first Foundation program was established, Fellowships for Advanced Study, which was the forerunner of the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarships program, and the first 18 scholarships were granted.


In 1947, following the death of Rotary founder Paul P. Harris, 1926 RI president Harry Rogers, of RC of San Antonio, TX, USA,  was appointed the Chairman of The Rotary Foundation for his second term. Considered by many to be the greatest TRF chair since Arch Klumph, Harry spearheaded a US $2 million memorial campaign benefiting the Foundation, finally placing it on a sound footing for the first time in its existence.

The Rotary Foundation admits women as Ambassadorial Scholarship recipients

On Feb. 23, 1954, the first mass inoculation of children against polio with the Salk vaccine began in Pittsburgh.

Rotary's Golden Jubilee is celebrated on 23 February in Chicago
The "Paul Harris Fellow" designation (later to become "Paul Harris Fellow Recognition" was created in 1957 to recognize the gift of US$1,000 to The Rotary Foundation.

The first Paul Harris Fellow was Al Brush, from the

Rotary Club of Laurel Mississippi. He became the first Paul Harris Fellow in 1957. The second recipient was Rufus Chapin who in 1957 was still attending the Club he had joined in 1905, the Rotary Club of Chicago – Rotary's first club. 

 There were also several other awards, including ones for $500 and $100, but they were subsequently discontinued.

See our article by PRIP Cliff Dochterman

Three new programs were launched, Group Study Exchange, Awards for Technical Training, and Grants for Activities in Keeping with the Objective of The Rotary Foundation, which was later called Matching Grants.
The Health, Hunger and Humanity (3-H) program was launched
The Rotary Volunteers program was created as a part of 3-H
Rotary announces PolioPlus program to immunize all the children of the world against polio
Benefactor Recognition was approved in 1985
Rotary Grants for University Teachers were introduced
The first Peace Forums were held, leading to the establishment of Rotary Peace Programs
The Discovery Grants program was established, when 1963-64 RIP Carl P. Miller and his wife, Ruth, donated US$1 million
The Trustees approved Major Donor Recognition in 1991
Western Hemisphere declared polio-free by the Pan American Health Organization
At their October 1999 meeting, The Rotary Foundation Trustees approved the adoption of a bequest recognition society, The Rotary Foundation Bequest Society. Becoming a member is a simple process. Membership occurs when an individual or a couple place The Rotary Foundation in their estate plan for a minimum of US$10,000 and notify The Foundation. Open enrollment for membership to The Rotary Foundation Bequest Society, to include previous Benefactors who qualify for the Bequest Society, began in April 2000.

Benefactor or Bequest Society Member?
The introduction of the new Rotary Foundation Bequest Society will not directly alter Benefactor recognition. For those individuals who identify bequest commitments and life insurance policies ranging from US$1,000 to US$9,999, Benefactor recognition will be awarded. However, because their estate plan commitment is under the US$10,000 threshold for Bequest Society recognition, membership will not be awarded. Individuals who identify bequest commitments and unpaid whole and universal life insurance policies US$10,000 or over, will be awarded both benefactor recognition and be eligible for membership in the Bequest Society.

Rotary Centers for International Studies in Peace and Conflict Resolution established.
Western Pacific declared polio-free
30,000th Rotary club chartered
Europe declared polio-free and first class of 70 Rotary Peace Scholars begin study
The one-year fundraising campaign-Fulfilling Our Promise: Eradicate Polio- concluded in 2003, raising more than US$130 million by August 2004.
The District Simplified Grants and Individual Grants programs began in 2003, the latter providing continued support for Rotary Volunteers and other individuals to plan and carry out service projects.

Our Foundation Newsletter began by PDG Dr. Eddie Blender to preserve the history of TRF.

The first class of Rotary World Peace Scholars graduated in 2004, including this one from the Rotary Center for International Studies at the University of Queensland in Australia.
The PolioPlus Partners program was re-launched in 2004 with expanded responsibilities in support of global polio eradication.

Also, in 2004 the Children’s Fund was established within the Permanent Fund, to encourage Rotarians to increase help for children through the Foundation’s humanitarian programs.

The Every Rotarian, Every Year initiative began on 1 July 2004, encouraging every Rotarian to make an annual contribution of US$100 or more to the Foundation’s Annual Programs Fund.

Also, view TRF "Milestones" PowerPoint presentation of the activities to 2004


New recognition award for Major Donors, with the existing recognition for Bequest Society remaining the same.


Rotarians have mobilized by the hundreds of thousands to ensure that children are immunized against this crippling disease and that surveillance is strong, despite the poor infrastructure, extreme poverty, and civil strife of many countries. Since the PolioPlus program's inception in 1985, more than two billion children have received oral polio vaccine. To date, 210 countries, territories, and areas around the world are polio-free. As of June 2005, Rotary has committed more than $581 million to global polio eradication. 2004-05 expenditures: $33.1 million.

PolioPlus Partners is a program that allows Rotarians to participate in the polio eradication effort by contributing to specific social mobilization and surveillance activities in polio-endemic countries. As of 30 June 2005, clubs in 462districts have participated in 420 PolioPlus Partners projects, supporting National Immunization Days and other polio eradication activities around the world.

Health, Hunger and Humanity (3-H) Grants fund large-scale, two- to four-year projects that enhance health, help alleviate hunger, or improve human development. Since 1978, 276 projects in 74 countries have been funded at a cost of$71 million. In 2004-05, no new projects were approved as this program was in moratorium from 200110 2004. The moratorium was lifted on 1 January 2005. Proposals received in 2004-05 will be considered for funding in 2005-06.

Matching Grants provide matching funds for international service projects of Rotary clubs and districts. Since 1965,22,000 Matching Grant projects in 166 countries have been funded at a cost of more than $224 million. In 2004-05, 2,272new grants were approved for projects in 136 countries. Program awards were $25.8 million.

District Simplified Grants support the short-term service activities or humanitarian endeavors of districts in communities locally or internationally. This program began in 2003-04, and 772 grants have been approved for projects in 57 countries totaling more than $11 million. In 2004-05, 389 grants were approved. Program expenditures were$6.1million.

Individual Grants support the travel of individual Rotarians spouses of Rotarians, Rotaractors, and qualified Foundation alumni who are planning or implementing service projects. This program began in 2003-04, and 686 projects in 87countries have been funded at $2.7 million. In 2004-05, 372 grants were approved. Program awards were $1.6 million.

Solidarity in South Asia. Shortly after the deadly tsunami struck South Asia on 26 December 2004, The Rotary Foundation established the Solidarity in South Asia fund to assist Rotarians in supporting long-term recovery efforts in affected communities. In 2004-05, program expenditures were $5.5 million (includes DDF).

Rotary World Peace Scholars. Each year up to 70 scholars are sponsored to study at one of the seven Rotary Centers for International Studies in peace and conflict resolution for a master's-level degree. Since the program's inception in2002-03,18o Fellows from 50 different countries have participated at a cost of almost $u million. In 2004-05, 64 peace fellows from 27 countries began studies at the seven Rotary Centers totaling $3.5 million for the two-year program.

Ambassadorial Scholarships. The Foundation sponsors one of the largest international scholarship programs in the world. Scholars study in a country other than their own where they serve as unofficial ambassadors of goodwill. Since1947, more than 37,000 scholars from some no countries have received scholarships at a cost of more than $462 million. In 2004-05, 737 scholars from 70 countries studied in 62 countries. Program awards were $15.6 million.

Rotary Grants for University Teachers are awarded to faculty members to teach in a developing nation for 3 to 10months. Since 1985, 406 university teachers have shared their expertise with a college or university in a developing country. In 2004-05, 29 university teachers from 6 countries taught in 19 countries. Program awards were $396,000.

Group Study Exchange (GSE). These annual awards are made to paired Rotary districts to provide travel expenses for a team of non-Rotarians from a variety of vocations. Rotarian hosts organize a four- to six-week itinerary of educational and cultural points of interest. Since 1965, more than 52,000 individuals (almost 12,000 teams) from 102 countries have participated at a cost of more than $88 million. In 2004-05, 404 teams traveled abroad. Program awards were $3.4million.

*PEFC: Polio Eradication Fundraising Campaign

Also see the story of PolioPlus by PRIP Cliff Dochterman




Annual Programs Fund Goal set at US $105,000,000.00


Polio reduced to four countries: Afghanistan, India, Nigeria, and Pakistan. Polio cases worldwide have dropped by 99 percent since 1985.


Permanent Fund Update

As of 30 January 2006 the Permanent Fund's net assets were US$184 million.  The estimated expectancies to the Permanent Fund stood at approximately US$306.4 million as of 28 February 2006.  


Bequest Society Update 
As of 28 February 2006, there were 4726 Bequest Society commitments with an expected value of US$196 million. This is an increase of 47 new commitments with a value of US$1.34 million. These commitments represent a significant percentage of the expectancies to the Permanent Fund.


Donor Advised Fund Update 
As of 28 February 2006, there were 68 DAF accounts with a fair market value of US$6.7 million.


Rotary receives a challenge grant $100 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help eradicate polio.


First chair from Africa


Rotary receives a second challenge grant for $255 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help eradicate polio, bringing the Gates Foundation total to $355 million and doubling the Rotary challenge to $200 million. Also see the story of PolioPlus by PRIP Cliff Dochterman

The Rotary Foundation Trustees continue to work on the Future Vision Plan, which will help move The Rotary Foundation into its second century of service.



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