The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International is a not-for-profit corporation that promotes world understanding through international humanitarian service programs and educational and cultural exchanges. It is supported solely by voluntary contributions from Rotarians and others who share its vision of a better world. Since 1917, the Foundation has awarded more than US$1.1 billion in humanitarian and educational grants, which are initiated and administered by local Rotary clubs and districts.
In 1947, the first Foundation program was established — Fellowships for Advanced Study, which was the forerunner of the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarships program. Then in 1965-66, 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 in 1978, with the Rotary Volunteers program being created as a part of 3-H in 1980.
The PolioPlus program was announced in 1984-85, and the following year saw the introduction of Rotary Grants for University Teachers. The first Peace Forums were held in 1987-88, leading to the establishment of Rotary Peace Programs. Then in 1989, 1963-64 RI President Carl P. Miller and his wife, Ruth, donated US$1 million to establish the Discovery Grants program.
Throughout this time, support of the Foundation grew tremendously. Since that first $26.50 donation in 1917, the Foundation has received contributions totaling more than US$1 billion. To date, almost 1 million individuals have been recognized as Paul Harris Fellows—that is, someone who has contributed US$1000 or has had that amount contributed in his or her name.
Such strong support and involvement of Rotarians worldwide ensures a secure future for The Rotary Foundation as it continues its vital work for international understanding and world peace.